The Toronto Marlies will certainly feel they let one get away in Game 3.

Toronto was seconds away from victory in regulation, found iron instead of twine, and let numerous powerplay opportunities go to waste throughout the game before falling on an Albany man advantage in overtime.

First Period

Joseph Blandisi featured prominently in the action throughout starting inside the opening minute. After the first stoppage in play, the Albany forward went after Brendan Leipsic, looking to engage in the physicality stakes from the get-go.

Just ten shots were registered in the opening 20 minutes, but Toronto generated the better chances to strike early. Sam Carrick let fly two and a half minutes in, but Wedgewood held firm to deny a second opportunity. Another effort from Justin Holl at the blue line whistled past the post before Josh Leivo nearly pounced on the rebound from the back boards.

After an opening powerplay for the Marlies proved fruitless, Matt Lorito was denied by the mask of Bibeau after taking a shot from the high slot. Nick Lappin, and Lorito again, tested Bibeau in quick succession as Toronto’s goaltender was facing his first real action after a slow beginning.

A second powerplay for Toronto opened the scoring for the wrong team. Connor Carrick coughed up the puck in the offensive zone, allowing Mike Sislo and Rod Pelley a 2-on-1 break. Pelley appeared as though he kicked Sislo’s pass into the net, but the official behind the net was vehement that the goal should stand. It looked like a clear kicking motion, but video review isn’t allowed for such things in the AHL, so Albany had themselves a 1-0 lead.

Toronto were still on the powerplay, where Kasperi Kapanen had a great chance from the slot but failed to get enough on it to beat Wedgewood.

Albany’s first man advantage resulted in a shorthanded chance for Frederick Gauthier, with
Wedgewood doing well to hold onto the low shot as Rich Clune drove the net looking for the rebound.

The final six minutes of the first passed without a shot on net despite some four-on-four play to end the period.

Second Period

The Marlies were excellent in the second period and really deserved to be leading after 40 minutes of play.

It took almost four minutes for Toronto to record their first shot of the middle frame, but it was well worth the wait. Stuart Percy did well to keep the puck inside the offensive zone and promptly throw it on net. Blocked in front, Josh Leivo picked up possession and, with not much on, seemed to take Wedgewood by surprise with a lot shot that trickled in through the goaltender’s right pad.

Another powerplay opportunity almost put the road team in front. T.J Brennan wasted little time firing an effort on net with Leivo nearly putting home the rebound. Leivo took the next shot from the left circle, but Wedgewood flew to his right to keep the game tied.

Back at even strength, Ben Smith was denied from the slot after fine build-up play from his two linemates, Leipsic and Carrick.

A backhand attempt from Max Novak tied the shots at ten a piece at the midway mark of the game, but Bibeau became somewhat of a passenger as the remaining ten minutes were dictated by Toronto.

Andreas Johnson certainly found his stride in the second period, testing Albany’s netminder with a pair of efforts from the left circle.

The best opportunity fell to Connor Brown after Albany turned the puck over cheaply, allowing the Marlies a 2-on-0 break. Brown went in alone trying to go backhand on Wedgewood, who made a fantastic right pad save while falling backwards.

Zach Hyman couldn’t convert on two good opportunities in as many minutes; firstly, a one timer on a set-up by Nylander brought another top save out of Wedgewood, who saw the shot late through traffic. The next was on a rush after a rare save from Bibeau to turn aside Blandisi. With space afforded on the rush, Hyman drove to the net, but Wedgewood was equal to his backhand attempt as he cut across goal.

Kapanen will still be wondering how he failed to score in his game. Viktor Loov sent the winger away down the right with a perfect pass, but Kapanen’s attempt to go top shelf was thwarted by Wedgewood.

Only a late penalty taken by Stuart Percy stopped the assault and meant Toronto would begin the third period on the penalty kill.

Third Period

Toronto didn’t give up a single shot while down a man, with Albany looking more threatening at even strength.  Blandisi and Novak both tested Bibeau inside the opening three and a half minutes of the third period.

The Devils’ penalty trouble began shortly after those chances, as their overly aggressive play started to cost them. The first powerplay saw a Brennan shot create a huge rebound, but Mark Arcobello wasn’t close enough to the net to take advantage of the half empty cage. Kapanen then rang his effort off the left post of Wedgewood seconds before the penalty expired.

A second consecutive powerplay followed, where the Marlies created one opportunity of note. Leivo delivered a pinpoint centering pass to Arcobello, who somehow fanned on the shot. A mere five seconds after the man advantage expired, William Nylander took matters into his own hands off his strong-side half wall, releasing a snipe from just inside the top of the right circle to put Toronto up 2-1.

Timed at exactly 8:30, the Marlies could not afford to take their foot off the gas and for the most part kept Albany out of their zone, or to the outside when the Devils gained entry.

A sixth powerplay was negated by Justin Holl taking a penalty, but after negotiating a shortened kill, Toronto only needed to keep Albany at bay for under three minutes. The task appeared much easier when Sislo was called for slashing with the clock showing 18:26.

Once Wedgewood was pulled for the extra attacker with 50 seconds to go, though, the Marlies appeared to lose focus, with too many players coasting. Albany made them pay as Damon Severson was afforded far too much space from the point and blasted an uncontested shot on net that produced a rebound for Lappin to put home with 21 seconds to play. A second shorthanded goal for Albany sent the game to overtime.


Toronto were still on a powerplay carried over from the third, but the momentum was with the Devils, who killed the remaining seconds with ease.

The Marlies best chance to claim game three came during a sequence of four-on-four play.
A 2-on-1 break saw Nylander find Hyman, who fired his one-time effort back against the grain. Wedgewood made another fantastic save despite moving the wrong way.

With eight minutes to play came a scary moment for Stuart Percy, who was looking to corral the puck and was slammed into the boards from behind by Blandisi. The hit forced Percy into the wall head first in the corner, where he lay motionless on the ice for a while before leaving the ice under his own steam (and did not return). The officials deemed the hit wasn’t worthy of a penalty — not the first bad refereeing decision of the series and likely not the last.

Still reeling from that, Toronto were thankful to Bibeau for making a huge save on Reid Boucher’s breakaway.

The Marlies had one last chance to win this game on their eighth powerplay of the game, but an excellent one-time opportunity for Leipsic saw him fan on the shot.

As quickly as the man advantage expired, Toronto went to the penalty kill for a Connor Carrick trip. It took just twelve seconds for Albany to score the winner. Missed assignments allowed Brian O’Neill to shoot too easily from the high slot before a shot block in front worked to the Marlies’ detriment. The deflection fooled Bibeau, who was able to make the save but was unable to prevent the rebound from falling to Lappin, who proved Albany’s Game 3 hero.

Post Game Notes

– Special teams were again key. Toronto were 0/8 on the power play and allowed two shorthanded goals. Albany tallied once on their four powerplay opportunities. The non-call on the Percy hit followed by the marginal trip called on Carrick in overtime is frustrating, but the Marlies had double the powerplay opportunities overall and came out a negative three on special teams.

– This was the first time Toronto has allowed two shorthanded goals in a playoff game.

– Josh Leivo’s goal was his first of the 2016 playoffs.

– Antoine Bibeau made 36 saves in the losing effort.

– Andreas Johnson made his debut and grew into the game, especially prominent in the middle frame. Sheldon Keefe complimented the play of his line — alongside Nylander and Hyman — in the second period especially. A good chance he keeps his spot in the lineup for Game 4.

– Zach Hyman led all Marlies with five shots on goal and continues to be a spark plug no matter who he’s playing with in the lineup.

– Toronto’s second period was excellent, but 27 shots overall in 88 minutes of hockey despite eight powerplay opportunities is not going to cut it.

– Toronto’s all-time record when trailing 2-1 in a playoff series is 2-2. Both victories were attained in seven games.

Game Highlights

Sheldon Keefe Post Game

Marlies Player Stats — Albany 3 vs. Toronto 2

Brennan, T.J.D00-230
Carrick, ConnorD00-222
Johnson, AndreasRW00020
Percy, StuartD01212
Hyman, ZachRW00152
Leivo, JoshLW10-130
Carrick, SamC00-110
Clune, RichardLW00000
Leipsic, BrendanLW00114
Smith, BenRW00020
Gauthier, FrederikC00010
Arcobello, MarkC00010
Brown, ConnorRW00-110
Holl, JustinD01112
Kapanen, KasperiLW00010
Loov, ViktorD00100
Valiev, RinatD00000
Nylander, WilliamC10120