TORONTO – After a big 5-1 win on Friday against the Texas Stars, the Toronto Marlies knew they had to improve on their 50-shots-against performance in game #2 on Monday night or else risk dropping their first game of the 2014 post season.
The first period started well for Toronto. After a Texas turnover inside the Marlies blueline in a 4-on-4 situation, Jerry D’Amigo picked up the puck and went barrelling down the ice and snapped a quick wrist shot over the glove of Christopher Nilstorp for his fourth of the post-season and a 1-0 Marlie lead.
The first period in game #2 was much like the one in game #1: A lot of back and forth action and once again it was the high-powered offense of the Stars leading the shots 7-1 midway through the frame. That wasn’t a good sign of what was to come and sure enough the Stars broke through with the Marlies on the PK. Korbinian Holzer made a no-look backhanded pass that landed on the stick of Chris Mueller, who made a perfect pass to Orangeville, Ontario native Brett Ritchie. Ritchie put his second of the post-season past a sprawling Drew MacIntyre to even things up at 1-1. Despite out-shooting Toronto 18-7 in the period, the score was tied at 1-1 as the two teams broke for the first intermission.
For the first time in the playoffs, the Marlies fell behind in the second period. Just over eight minutes played in the second, after a great toe save by Nilstorp on Peter Holland, the Stars grabbed the go-ahead goal. After the ensuing face-off, Mike Hedden sped past Korbinian Holzer, broke in on MacIntyre and was denied, but Scott Glennie was right on the door-step to tap home a juicy rebound for his second of the post-season, giving the Stars a 2-1 lead.
Toronto’s Josh Leivo answered right back with less than 10 minutes to go in the period on a power-play, batting home a rebound off a Spencer Abbott wrist shot for his third of the playoffs.
Before the period was out, Texas once again restored the upper-hand; Kevin Henderson out-muscled Trevor Smith behind the Toronto net and made a great pass to Brett Ritchie, who was left all alone in the slot to fire his second of the game past MacIntyre for a 3-2 Stars lead.
The second-period onslaught of scoring continued, as the Marlies continued to play catch up. Peter Holland picked up a loose puck in front of the net after coming off the half wall and dropping a slick back pass to Holzer for a point shot. Holland lifted the rebound over Nilstorp, who was down and out in his crease, tying things at three a piece.
Texas would once again restore the lead the period was out. With 1:01 remaining, Dylan Yeo and Trevor Smith got caught out of position which allowed Brendan Ranford to walk in and send a cross-crease feed to Chris Mueller for his fifth of the post-season. It was 4-3 Stars after two as the Marlies were in unfamiliar territory this playoff, sitting on the wrong end of the scoreline after 40.
Toronto were playing catch-up the entire night, and were never in control. In the third period, Toronto battled but couldn’t come up with a third reply after falling behind 4-3. The Marlies had their chances as the pushback was there, but Nilstorp stood strong. With just over five minutes left to play in the 3rd, the Stars pulled away. Scott Glennie found the back of the net for his 2nd of the game and 3rd of the playoffs, notching the back-breaker 5-3 goal. Travis Morin added an empty netter to make it a 6-3 final.
- The Scott Glennie goal in the second period ended a 512:05-long streak of never trailing for the Marlies. A remarkable feat and one bound to come to an end at some point.
- 102 shots against in two games – definitely some concern here. Toronto again got into the ‘track meet’ style of game again at times on Monday and are unlikely to win this series if it continues. The Texas speed up front has been giving the Marlies’ defence issues.
- Marlies’ discipline wasn’t what it needed to be tonight, giving up seven powerplay opportunities. Even if they only gave up one PP goal, it hurts flow and momentum and means a lot of work for MacIntyre.
- Steve Spott said that there wasn’t anything to like structure wise after game #1 and there were times in game #2 where the same mistakes recurred. Defensive zone coverage issues need to be addressed because this Stars team is too potent for MacIntyre to do it alone.
- Brad Ross drew into the lineup in an attempt to shake things up. He finished the night with 1 shot on goal.
- Peter Holland now has 6 goals in 6 games. Jerry D’Amigo is up to 13 points in 9 playoff games with his nice shot on the 1-0 goal.
- This is the first bit of adversity this Marlies team will undergo in these playoffs. Learning experiences here for the fledgling youth. Let’s hope it was the wake up call the team needed in time for the home leg of the series.
Stick tap to 100 Degree Hockey for the featured photo. Check out their site for the Texas perspective on the Western Conference Final series.