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.
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.
- 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.