Marlies manhandle Moose, remain perfect on home ice

After winning ugly against the Moose on Saturday, Sheldon Keefe would have been delighted by Sunday’s victory — his team absolutely dominated Manitoba, showcasing the kind of possession game that’s now expected from the Marlies.

First Period

It took just 54 seconds for Toronto to assert themselves over the visitors, despite the presence of a veteran goaltender between the pipes for Manitoba in Ondrej Pavelec. After Frederik Gauthier found Kasperi Kapanen with an excellent outlet pass, Kapanen had time to take aim from the right face-off dot, where he fired a shot into the top-right corner of Pavelec’s net — a goal reminiscent of Brooks Laich’s opening tally on Saturday

Antoine Bibeau began a little shakily and almost coughed up a tying goal two minutes later.
The Quebec native could only direct JC Lipon’s weak shot into the path of Andrew Copp, but he recovered to deny the Manitoba centreman with a fine save. Bibeau had to be alert again 30 seconds later when Marko Dano tested him with a snapshot.

Despite Toronto’s control of possession during the opening period, they were unable to expand their lead by the end of the first 20 minutes. Some of that was due to the lack of a killer final pass, but there also a couple of late saves from Pavelec. Rookie Trevor Moore was robbed by Pavelec after more fine play from Gauthier, and Colin Greening and Tobias Lindberg were also turned aside by the Moose netminder.

Second Period

Whatever was said during the first intermission worked for Toronto as they came out flying in the middle frame, driving the play and creating half a dozen chances in as many minutes.  Toronto blew the game open and effectively sealed the victory with a three-goal blast in a two-minute span, beginning at the eight-minute mark of the period.

The Marlies had the visitors hemmed inside their own zone for an extended period of time before a blast from Justin Holl was tipped into the net by the Moose’s Nelson Nogier. Lindberg, who was on the doorstep putting pressure the defenseman on the play, has used his big frame well so far this season in front of the opposition goal.

The Marlies made it 3-0 the midway point thanks to a dominant shift from the Kerby Rychel-Colin Smith-Andreas Johnsson line. Smith grabbed the final touch on a rebound in front after efforts from Rychel and Nielsen.

Manitoba called a timeout to try and settle themselves down, but it failed to stem the bleeding. After handing the Marlies a powerplay, they paid the price 17 seconds into the double minor after Byron Froese jammed home the puck after a scramble in front.

Gauthier is enjoying playing alongside Kapanen and is starting to show the results of the hard work he’s put into improve his skating and offensive skills. Taking the puck down the right side, the sophomore centreman skated swiftly around the net and dished a perfect pass out to Kapanen waiting in front, but Pavelec reacted with a sharp toe save.

Ending the second period on the penalty kill, Gauthier showed his defensive qualities with a huge shot block that left him writhing in pain, while Bibeau stayed solid to deny JC Lipon once again.

In terms of measuring the Marlies domination during the middle frame, the shot clock read 20-7 and the three goals scored could easily have been double that.

Third Period

The third period was very much a case of ‘After the Lord Mayor’s show’, with both teams knowing the game was essentially done as a contest. That said, the Toronto roster is so stacked and competitive that Marlies players have know every minute of ice time is a chance to make an impression.

Rychel is yet to light the lamp for Toronto, but he came close two and a half minutes into the final frame as his line continued to put on an impressive showing.

Certainly, Bibeau knows his place in the team is as under threat as anyone else’s, and no goaltender wants to give up a potential shutout. Andrew Nielsen didn’t help out his goaltender with a no-look reverse pass behind his own net, which fell kindly for Scott Kosmachuk. The right winger looked a good bet to score, but the Marlies netminder came up with his best save of the game.

As the game slipped into the final ten minutes, it was all about whether the Marlies could record their first duck egg of the season. A flurry of late penalties for and then against the Marlies put that issue in doubt. A final 33 seconds on the penalty kill was played with as much determination as the Marlies displayed throughout the game, earning their goaltender a first shutout of the season and a small piece of franchise history in the process.

Post Game Notes

– Antoine Bibeau has tied a franchise record for shutouts with his eighth on Sunday. Bibeau shares the record with Jussi Ryannas and Ben Scrivens.

– Jeff Glass served as the back-up, with Garret Sparks said to be feeling sore.

– Kerby Rychel had his best game of this young season and is beginning to find his feet in Toronto. He registered six shots on net, and I would not be surprised to see his play result in better numbers on the score sheet soon.

– A pair of assists for Brendan Leipsic, who has registered at least a point in ever game this season, places him tops in AHL scoring with nine points.

– Byron Froese scored for the third straight game and tallied four goals in total over the weekend.

– After failing to register a shot last week again Utica, Justin Holl put ten shots on goal in three games this past weekend and scored first goal as a result. He’s more than capable of overhauling last season’s goal tally of five.

– Toronto’s powerplay was 1/3 and the penalty kill was perfect on two occasions.

Game Highlights

Sheldon Keefe Post Game

Marlies 4 vs. Moose 0 – Game Sheet

Campbell, Andrew00011
Valiev, Rinat01011
Holl, Justin10041
Loov, Viktor00021
Nielsen, Andrew01011
Dermott, Travis01011
Smith, Colin11041
Froese, Byron10010
Johnsson, Andreas00020
Clune, Richard00000
Leipsic, Brendan02201
Soshnikov, Nikita00011
Kapanen, Kasperi10052
Gauthier, Frederik01012
Rychel, Kerby01061
Lindberg, Tobias00021
Greening, Colin00020
Moore, Trevor00400