Spencer Abbott was looking for a clean start. He decided he’d get it with a clean shave.

Abbott, stuck in a playoffs-long slump, bucked hockey tradition and shaved his playoff beard. The newly fresh-faced Marlies winger — well, he’s down to stubble — took his lumps in the dressing room for it.

But he went out and scored a natural hat trick Thursday night as Toronto beat the Texas Stars 4-1, tying the best-of-seven AHL Western final at two games apiece.

“It wasn’t working for me. I had to switch something up,” said Abbott of his decision to shave. “(The hat trick) was big for me and the team. I was in a slump and it’s nice to get it off my back.”

“I think I’ll maybe get some razors,” joked coach Steve Spott, with Game 5 set for Saturday at Ricoh Coliseum. “It’s funny how superstition plays a part in this, but it’s whatever works and it definitely worked for Spencer Abbott.”

The shave surprised his teammates.

“It’s pretty obvious we were giving him the gears before the game,” said a still bearded Peter Holland, who had two assists and has points in eight straight playoff games. “Whatever you need to do. If you’re going to score three goals and help us win, that’s fine by us, but we’re going to ride him now a bit longer.”

Abbott was elated to be the butt of those jokes. He’d been drawing the attention of Spott for the wrong reasons. The coach had been calling out his forwards, especially the ones who were supposed to score but hadn’t been. Abbott’s name was at the top of the list.

“At one point this year, he was the second-leading scorer in this league,” said Spott. “We need him to find that offence.”

Abbott had no goals in 11 playoff games after scoring 17 in the regular season. He was glad to be part of the Marlies’ success, which had seen offence come from all quarters.

Jerry D’Amigo added an empty-netter, his sixth goal of the playoffs. T.J. Brennan had three assists. Kevin Marshall and Trevor Smith added one assist each. Josh Leivo was held off the scoresheet, but was instrumental as a screen on Abbott’s first and third goals.

Drew MacIntyre stopped 27 of 28 shots, robbed of his third shutout with less than two minutes remaining.

Abbott’s offensive awakening was aided by Texas penalties and Spott’s inclination to play four forwards on the power-play unit. Abbott usually plays the point with Brennan — as he has since the Leafs traded John-Michael Liles in January — on the first power-play unit and it connected.

“(Abbott) can find seams, and he’s got a low threshold of panic with the puck,” said Spott. “He can find T.J. (Brennan) through seams and Peter Holland through seams. It was nice to see him get rewarded.

“No one has been gripping the stick tighter than Spencer Abbott. He knows how important he is to our team offensively.”