D’Amigo scores OT winner, Toronto Marlies take 3-0 series lead

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Photo: Christian Bonin at TSGphoto.com

Back and forth game leaves Wolves grasping for their playoff lives

TORONTO – On Wednesday night, the Toronto Marlies returned home for just their second home playoff game this post-season, game #3 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals versus the Chicago Wolves. Toronto only played one home game in the opening round, defeating the Milwaukee Admirals to complete the three-game sweep. The Marlies have been dominant in the first two games of the series, taking 3-0 leads in the first period of both games one & two.  On Wednesday, the Marlies were looking to move one step closer to reaching the Western Conference Finals.

In the first period came yet another dominant start. Just over five minutes into the opening period, Toronto drew first blood. With Sebastian Wannstrom in the box for closing his hand on the puck, Spencer Abbott found T.J. Brennan wide open at the point and Brennan rocketed his 3rd of the playoffs over Jake Allen’s shoulder for a 1-0 Toronto lead. Abbott’s assist is his third in as many games after missing over a month fighting an upper body injury; he hasn’t missed a beat since stepping back into the lineup.

Late in the first, Chicago would tie the game. Dimitri Jaskin has been, for the most part, unstoppable thus far in the playoffs, and played a large part in Chicago’s 5-game series win over the Rochester Americans in the 1st round. With Andrew MacWilliam in the box for closing his hand on the puck, Jaskin made Toronto pay. Mark Cundari and Joe Corvo worked the puck to Jaskin in front, who beat Drew MacIntyre off the post and in for his 4th of the post-season, tying the game at 1s.

The Marlies, however, wasted no time in responding. Just moments later, T.J. Brennan found Peter Holland all alone in front of Jake Allen and took full advantage of a defensive coverage breakdown by Chicago and buried a ‘gimme’ over the glove of Allen, restoring the Toronto lead at 2-1. To call the first period a very back and forth affair would be an understatement.  Less than two minutes later, Greg McKegg turned the puck over in the slot to former Marlie Keith Aucoin, who was stopped before Adam Cracknell buried the rebound past Drew MacIntyre for his 3rd of the post season, tying the game at two.  Might I remind you, that this all happened with less than three minutes remaining in the first.  Eleven seconds later the roller-coaster ride continued, this time swaying in favour of Toronto.  Brandon Kozun, while being tangled up by two Wolves players, somehow won the puck race and made a little chip shot from the side of the net that eluded Allen, giving the Marlies the 3-2 lead after one period of play.  Shots were tied 11-11 after 20.

In the second period, the Wolves came out swinging. As the saying goes — “I’d love to be a fly on the wall in the dressing room during intermission” — I can only imagine the frustration that head coach John Anderson was feeling. Toronto was guilty of some sloppy hockey and of receiving the play in the second period. Despite getting pinned in their own end and coughing up turnovers, Drew MacIntyre continued to stand strong and make the big saves when necessary. With just over 11 minutes played in the middle frame, the Wolves tied things up once more. After Jerred Smithson missed a hit on Eric Selleck, he found Tyler Shattock at the side of the net, who corralled a bouncing puck and put it into the empty side of the net for his 1st of the post-season, bringing things back to a deadlock at three a piece heading into the third period. Shots favoured the Wolves 14-5 in the period.

After a scoreless third period, the game headed to OT. Just 3:28 into OT, after a failed clearing attempt by the Wolves, Trevor Smith fired the puck from the blue line at Jake Allen, who couldn’t corral the rebound, allowing Jerry D’Amigo to take full advantage with three separate chances to bury the puck, eventually converting for his team-leading 4th of the playoffs and securing the 4-3 Toronto victory.

Lines:

Abbott-Holland-Ashton

Leivo-McKegg-Carrick

D’Amigo-Smith-Kozun

Broll-Smithson-Ryan

Notes:

  • After missing over a month with an upper-body injury, Spencer Abbott now has three points (all assists) in three games
  • Jerry D’Amigo leads the Marlies in all-time playoff goals with 14
  • Jake Allen had another rough night but seemed to have his moments where he bounced back and re-gained a little confidence.  Game #4 is on Friday and it’ll be interesting to see what John Anderson does, although I’d be surprised if Allen isn’t back in the net.
  • Despite his 1st period goal, Toronto has done a stellar job in general of keeping Dimitri Jaskin quiet and off the score-sheet.
  • The Wolves played a very strong game despite issues getting to Toronto on Wednesday.  Smoke in a Federal Aviation Administration radar facility near Chicago O’Hare Intl. Airport on Tuesday halted any air travel in the area creating a giant backlog of flights on Wednesday.  
  • Toronto was out-shot 30-35.
  • Great Dane

    Globe interview with Shanahan:

    “No all joking aside, you can chase and try and copy a lot of
    different teams and get into trouble. Let’s face it, I think we have
    certain strengths here. One of them is speed and an ability to
    counterattack. But in my own opinion it’s not where it needs to be. It’s
    not as complete as it needs to be. I think we have to have more
    mobility on the back end. I think we need to make more simple passes and
    clean exits. There needs to be more tape-to-tape passes coming out of
    our zone for the type of forwards we have.
    “While the ability to
    score on the rush is unique and a great asset to have, to be able to
    counterattack, we need more compete level and time in the offensive
    zone. That’s not a formula that’s really all that foreign to a lot of
    teams. It’s a matter of applying it. So I think we’ve got some good
    pieces but I don’t think we’ve got all of them in the proper place right
    now. We have some personnel changes to make.”
    To me, that is as close as we get to blue print of the plan moving forward for the Leafs.
    Also in the interview the “swarm” system is dead and RC has been told so.
    Furthermore I don’t believe in anymore Carlyle signings and there will certainly not be a roster spot for Orr or McLaren. Shanahan wants player that can play hockey at a high speed.

  • Great Dane

    Great win by the Marlies. Really like what I am seeing and there are absolutely a number of candidates for making the roster of the Leafs next season.   Filling up the third and fourth with our in-house developed players will free up a lot of cap money to sign top players.

  • Great Dane

    Habs kicked out the Big Bad Bruins like we should have done last season.

    One thing I noticed was that Subban and Markov both had around 26 minutes on the ice, but only 40 sec. on the PK.

    Without watching the game I am almost certain that those 40 secs were either the first 10 secs of the PK because they couldn’t get of the ice or in the last 20 secs. in order to setup the play 5v5.

    Compare that to how Phaneuf was misused and you have a very good reason why we have a problem on the defense.

    To para-phrase Shanahan: Some players were mismanaged, some players misused.

  • Zeus_WilliamMapleLeafs

    Great Dane  
    Agree with you. You cant expect a player to rack up the minutes 5 on 5 then do both the PP and PK. Even if the player is good enough for the purpose its just, like you say, bad management.
    But in our case – whats the option.?? Who else will do the job. Who else on the back end is better than Phanny at the PK. And if he works his socks off what kindof reward is taking him off the PP when thats like a pay bonus for these guys.
    We need to invest on the blue line thats for sure.

  • Great Dane

    Zeus_WilliamMapleLeafs Our Blue line is not nearly good enough. 
    But help is on the way. Two years from now we will be in much better shape.
    This summer however, what is the possibilities for the Leafs to get a significant upgrade on defense. Zip IMO.   Niskanen I fear would be another 5 million Clarkson contract, or the other words pay way too much for one seasons performance.
    Therefore the only solution I see is to trade Phaneuf for the best possible return in picks and prospects.  Draft high this year and next.

  • DJBrianBurke

    Marlies are kickin’ ass and taking names!

    They’re are making it easy on themselves. Play the least amount of game possible + being one of the youngest teams is a good formula for having the stamina to win in the playoffs.
    Keep it up boys! Toronto should have at least one winning team.

  • Zeus_WilliamMapleLeafs

    Great Dane Zeus_WilliamMapleLeafs 
    That makes no sense to me at all my friend. Trade Phanny and you end up with a d-man taking his place and next year be asking to trade him as we all say he cant do everything. The problem isnt with Kessel, Phaneuf and the need to trade them for picks. The problem is our pool of top class players is two. Rielly in 4 years time may make it 3. But then Phanny will be getting on and it may go back down to 2 again.
    We need to get better through trade. We have to be prepared to pair up also rans BEFORE the rest of teh league works out they are also rans. After all being their coaches, managers and keen audience if we cant see that before the other man maybe we are all in the wrong business.
    Kadri will  never be an elite center man. He cant take a face off for one and that has to come some way into things. I honestly believe if we trade Kadri and the 8th we will get a guy we can work with. Unfortunately we have a lame duck GM, who like his predecessor believes in value over ability. For instance I would trade 3 Kadris for a Kessel. People here would say thats too much. But two Kessels together would be much better than two Kessels apart. The sum of their parts is greater than the two individuals. for instance. But we will never know.

  • Zeus_WilliamMapleLeafs

    Great Dane Zeus_WilliamMapleLeafs 
    Oh yeah by the way. Any interest in trading the lesbian in the ESPN league.
    FYI the lesbian is Backstrom as thats what he looks like and is affectionately known as in hockey circles here in Sweden.

  • Burtonboy

    Sounds like Shanny is going to be really hands on , right down to direct contact with the players on a regular basis . Really fascinating stuff coming from him yesterday

  • Burtonboy

    http://www.torontosun.com/2014/05/14/shanahan-ready-to-show-leafs-the-way