The Marlies tied up their Western Conference Semifinal series with Abbotsford last night, handing the Heat their first loss in twelve games. Matt Frattin, Korbinian Holzer and Ben Scrivens played especially strong games in a good overall effort by the Marlies to get themselves back on even terms with the series headed to British Columbia for the next three outings.
It was a 5-1 victory earned more on the defensive side of the puck than the scoreline might suggest. The Marlies killed all nine Abbotsford powerplays including a full two minute 5 on 3 kill, and another two abbreviated two man disadvantages. The Heat also outshot the Marlies 38 to 29 as Scrivens won the goaltending battle by a sizable margin over Abbotsford goalie Danny Taylor, who entered last night red hot on a nine-game winning streak.
Talk of the town Jerry D’Amigo had his AHL post season-leading sixth goal in five playoff games. A burgeoning offensive game, his contributions to the AHL’s best penalty kill, and his added speed and size suggest the 21-year-old has a very good chance at earning some NHL appearances next season.
Nazem Kadri meanwhile scored an empty net goal and added two assists. Gardiner had two assists while captain Ryan Hamilton scored a rare powerplay goal on a nifty move to pull the puck out from beside the net and around Taylor.
On paper the slight advantage lies with Abbotsford after earning the split and returning home for three straight home games. However, the Marlies have the edge in talent and clearly had Abbotsford outside of their comfort zone by making them play from behind after the first. Game 3 goes Saturday.
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Alexei Ponikarovsky with an OT game winner in Game 3
Logically speaking, we would be winning games in round 2 of the playoffs if we still had him.