The Toronto Marlies fell to their fourth straight road defeat in Rochester on Friday night.

The Amerks got out to an early two-goal advantage that Toronto rarely looked likely to recover from.

First Period

The opening period wasn’t short on excitement as the two teams split 27 shots and six penalties in the first 20 minutes.

Brendan Leipsic generated a couple of looks for the Marlies during the first 15 seconds but it wasn’t long before Rochester opened the scoring. Moments after having a goal waved off on a wraparound attempt, the Amerks took advantage of a gift from the visitors.

Skating toward his own goal, Colin Greening inexplicably handed the puck to Cal O’Reilly, who skated around the net before throwing it back out front to Cole Schneider. Schneider notched his ninth goal of the season one minute into the game.

Byron Froese and Leipsic tried to respond for the Marlies, but neither was able to find a way past Linus Ullmark despite a couple of generous rebounds. With seven minutes played, Colin Smith failed to find Tobias Lindberg on one of few odd-man rushes for Toronto in the game.

Another Marlies turnover, this time from Nielsen, almost led to a second Amerks goal before Leipsic took a slashing penalty. Toronto gave up an easy zone entry, gifting Rochester an odd-man advantage. It was easy pickings for the Amerks as Alex Nylander and Eric Cornel combined to tee up Nick Baptiste for his tenth of the season.

Toronto drew a penalty of their own but recorded only a single shot of note — Kasperi Kapanen snapped an effort from the right face-off dot that was well held by Ullmark.

Back at even strength, the Marlies had their chances but failed to make them count. Dymtro Timashov was the beneficiary of a turnover in the slot and should’ve done a better job of testing Ullmark.

An excellent play from Kapanen then led to a slapshot from Justin Holl and a big rebound from the Amerks netminder. Greening was the recipient in front but contrived to hit the outside of the post with a good portion of an empty net to aim at.

Leipsic and Rinat Valiev at least forced Ullmark into a few saves, but Toronto wasn’t driving the net to create screens or second opportunities with enough regularity.

The veterans were a major disappointment for the Marlies during this game and were mostly invisible offensively. Even on Brooks Laich’s best shift of the evening, he made the wrong choices from two promising positions.

It could have been worse for the visitors late in the opening frame, as Kapanen and Froese entered the penalty box within 35 seconds of one another. The last 30 seconds of the period were frantic, with Laich fanning on an easy opportunity to clear the puck, but Glass and the penalty killers did enough to prevent further damage.

Second Period

The start of the middle frame injected some hope into the Marlies cause. Toronto killed the remainder of both penalties and halved the deficit with under two minutes played.

After some good work from Lindberg and Smith down low, the Marlies retained possession and sent the puck back to Viktor Loov at the point. The Swedish defenseman didn’t hesitate in ripping a one-timer that beat Ullmark all ends up.

Rochester’s goaltender redeemed himself by turning aside Kapanen and Andrew Campbell before his team finally got their feet beneath them in the period. Nylander and Schneider both forced Jeff Glass into good saves before an excellent backcheck from Smith denied Schneider from what would have been an even better scoring opportunity following a turnover.

The parade to the penalty box began at the 9:05 mark, with the officials calling six penalties in a little over seven minutes. Toronto benefited for the most part, with a 4-on-3 for 26 seconds followed by a 5-on-3 for 1:19.

The Marlies let the opportunity slip by, however, as Kapanen’s one-timer from the left circle was denied by Ullmak before Leipsic’s effort hit the crossbar. That was as close as the Marlies came to tying the game up despite outshooting their hosts 11-4.

Third Period

The Marlies have trailed three times this season heading into the third period and have yet to record a point in that situation. They rarely looked like bucking the trend despite controlling the first four minutes of the third.

Kapanen should have put home a rebound attempt before Rochester’s first real foray into Toronto’s zone saw them restore a two-goal advantage. A high, long-range shot from Brady Austin appeared to be deflected in front by O’Reilly, with the puck clipping the top of Glass’ shoulder before looping up and behind him. The Amerks forward was quickest to react, putting home his own rebound.

Glass kept his team in the game at the midway mark of the period with a fantastic diving save to his right, denying Justin Bailey, who slammed his stick in frustration.

Any saves from Toronto’s netminder appeared to be in vain with the Marlies generating so little offensively. That was until Glass was pulled for the extra attacker and the Amerks unwisely retreated into a shell.

The last three minutes were all one-way traffic as Rochester’s survival instinct ensured Toronto had plenty of offensive zone time. That tactic backfired as Nielsen fired a bullet through traffic in front to bring his team to within one.

There was still 1:36 left on the clock and chances were forthcoming for Toronto as Rochester refused to change tack. Another effort from Nielsen almost bounced in behind Ullmark before puck refused to settle for Leipsic at the side of the net.

A last gasp effort from Kapanen was the Marlies’ final attempt to force overtime but it proved too little, too late for Toronto.

This was a deserved victory for a desperate Americans outfit, while the Marlies continue to frustrate with inconsistent efforts and too many underperforming players of late.

Post Game Notes

– Toronto has won just two of their last eight games.

– The Marlies lost the special teams battle and continue to give up far too many powerplay opportunities to opponents. The Toronto powerplay was scoreless through four attempts.

– Andrew Nielsen tallied his fifth goal of the season, while Viktor Loov opened his account with his first goal of the season. With his goal, Nielsen took over the lead in goal scoring by rookie defencemen.

– Kasperi Kapanen led the team with six shots and assisted on the second goal.

– Jeff Glass made 22 saves in his second start as a Marlie. He wasn’t at fault for this defeat and did his chances of further starts no harm with this performance.

– Garret Sparks’ suspension appears to be over. He served as the backup tonight.

Game Highlights

Sheldon Keefe Post Game