With Freddie Gauthier and Josh Leivo on emergency recall for the Maple Leafs, the Toronto Marlies were truly down to the bare bones.

After having to dress James Martin as a forward Friday night, Tylor Spink was signed to an ATO and went straight into the lineup. The former graduate of Colgate University isn’t a total unknown, with Sheldon Keefe having coached against him when the right winger played for the Cornwall Colts.

Despite the depleted-looking lineup, the Marlies will feel they should have taken a least a point from a game in which they held the lead on three occasions. It proved to be a tale of special teams, turnovers and little help in front for Antoine Bibeau as the visiting Providence Bruins showcased their offensive abilities.

A strong start from the Marlies resulted in Toronto opening the scoring just over three minutes into the game. It wasn’t pretty, but the scoresheet never cares about that — a shot from John Kurtz banked in off the arm of Eric Faille.

Providence were limited to just one shot as Toronto went on the powerplay at the 6:44 mark. The Bruins special teams are tremendous, and their fourth ranked penalty kill shut down the Marlies with ease.

The visitors finally got going at the midway point of the first period. A booming shot from Matt Irwin brought a shoulder save from Antoine Bibeau, with Brendan Leipsic on hand to make sure the puck didn’t end up floating in behind his goaltender.

With a little over eight minutes of the opening period remaining, Toronto thought they had made it 2-0. Tobias Lindberg, after excellent drive down the right, dished a gorgeous cross-ice pass to Leipsic waiting at the backdoor. For all the world it looked as if the puck had hit the top of the net and bounced out, but play continued.

An outlet pass from Stuart Percy sent Brett Findlay on a partial breakaway, but Zane McIntyre made a fine save to turn him aside. An icing call finally gave the officials the chance to take a look at Leipsic’s possible goal, and despite replays showing it clearly went in those who mattered determined it shouldn’t count.

Providence capitalized on their piece of good fortune by scoring the tying goal shortly after on the powerplay, as Brandon DeFazio redirected a shot in front that gave Bibeau no chance.

To Toronto’s credit, they bounced back immediately as Faille won a battle behind the Bruins net before teeing up Brett Findlay, who was denied from the slot. The Marlies regained the lead shortly after as Mark Arcobello and Lindberg combined, with Arcobello rifling home from the high slot.

Kasperi Kapanen and Rich Clune came close to making it 3-1, but seconds later it was a tie game once again. DeFazio turned defense into offense with a stretch pass that sent leading scorer Frank Vatrano alone in on net and the rookie beat Bibeau all ends up. In a commotion that followed the goal, Vatrano, Clune and DeFazio all ended up in the box for roughing. Toronto was unable to take advantage and the game remained deadlocked heading into the middle frame.

If the Marlies edged the first period, the second most definitely belonged to the Bruins, who should have held a lead after 40 minutes of play.

Not even 90 seconds in, Alexander Khokhlachev broke away alone on Bibeau but the goaltender denied him with a smart poke check.

After a spell of four-on-four play, it was the visitors who began to assert themselves, albeit assisted by Toronto’s inability to clear their zone. Despite a pair of fine saves from Bibeau, Toronto would take their second penalty of the game and once again the Bruins struck. Playing with fire, the Marlies tried to be fancy instead of just clearing their zone and subsequently paid the price. Gifting possession to the visitors, a shot from DeFazio was redirected in front by veteran Max Talbot through the legs of Bibeau.

A following powerplay from Toronto produced a better effort, and with a little more puck luck they may have tied the game up. They nearly got caught at the end of the powerplay as Anton Blidh was sent on a breakaway on exiting the box, but Bibeau came up huge with the save to keep the deficit at one.

The errors kept coming from the home team, this time presenting the Bruins with a 2-on-1 break, but Bibeau made a blocker save on Colin Miller’s blast from the right circle.

Khokhlachev received his second breakaway chance of the period with six minutes left, but yet again Bibeau stood tall with a fine stop to his right.

The Marlies went to the penalty kill for the third time and came through unscathed on this occasion, using the momentum to tie the game with 1:37 left in the second period.

T.J Brennan’s superb outlet pass off the left boards took out a Bruins defenseman and found Faille. Opting to look for a teammate, his drop pass found Findlay, who chose to wait before shooting through the legs of a defender, fooling McIntyre.

Toronto were fortunate to be tied at three heading into the third period, but they began the final frame well and scored inside five minutes. A shot from Kapanen caused consternation in the Bruins ranks with McIntyre feeling he was impeded by Clune. Sam Carrick took control of the situation from behind the net, scoring with a wraparound attempt past a defenseman on the line, with the Bruins goaltender still pleading his case to the officials.

Providence responded by scoring twice in a three minutes span, and they could have had more in truth.

Another poor piece of play from the Marlies inside their own zone allowed Miller an opportunity to let loose. His shot was redirected by DeFazio, which beat Bibeau despite the second touch slowing the puck down significantly.

Clune missed a great chance from the slot before the Bruins tallied what turned out to be the game winner.

Brennan was guilty of turning the puck over before Colton Hargrove’s shot from the point was helped in via yet another redirection in front, this time from Austin Czarnik.

Despite trailing 5-4, there was still plenty of time for Toronto to answer back and they spent the majority of the last seven minutes on the powerplay.

Special teams proved decisive to the end as the Marlies just couldn’t find a way to solve the Bruins penalty kill. One fine glove save by McIntyre robbed Leipsic and Kapanen fanned on a huge rebound — those were the only opportunities of note as Toronto fell short of gaining the point they needed to secure a playoff berth.

The good news came later that evening — a playoff spot was cemented anyway with Rochester’s defeat in Binghamton.

Post Game Notes

Eric Faille recorded his first multi-point game of his short AHL career with a goal and an assist.

T.J Brennan took his points total to 62 and is just four shy of the overall AHL lead. His pair of assists gives him 40 for the season, but some of his play in his own end was poor in this game.

Sam Carrick scored his sixth goal in as many games.

Mark Arcobello missed the last two games last weekend and his presence was sorely missed. That’s his 23rd goal of the season and he’s currently riding a three-game point streak.

Tylor Spink wasn’t given a whole ton of ice time after playing Thursday and Friday night for Toledo Walleye with travel mixed in. Difficult to imagine him featuring during Sunday’s game.

Antoine Bibeau will no doubt receive some flack after allowing five goals, but apart from the fourth, which he’ll want back, he wasn’t given a great deal of support. One breakaway goal and four others were redirections in front of his crease.

Game Highlights

Sheldon Keefe Post Game

Marlies Player Stats — Providence 5 vs. Toronto 4

Campbell, AndrewD00012
Brennan, T.J.D02124
Faille, EricF11230
Percy, StuartD00012
Carrick, SamC10-110
Clune, RichardLW00-112
Leipsic, BrendanLW00150
Lindberg, TobiasRW01120
Martin, JamesD01120
Spink, TylorC00-110
Kolomatis, DavidD00000
Arcobello, MarkC10140
Findlay, BrettLW10250
Smith, ColinC00-100
Kurtz, JohnLW01210
Frattin, MattRW00-100
Holl, JustinD01000
Kapanen, KasperiRW01-140