Throughout their current slump, the Toronto Marlies’ habit of falling behind early has frequently been their undoing.
This game differed slightly in that Toronto began brightly, but they still conceded late in the first period and proceeded to dig a hole they couldn’t climb out of despite a late push.
The first 15 minutes were exclusively dominated by the Marlies, who were creating chances from an excellent forechecking and cycle game. Providence was indebted to their goaltender, Zane McIntyre, for some impeccable play between the pipes, holding onto the majority of shots faced without giving out second opportunities.
The Bruins goaltender made 12 saves by the time of opening goal, the last of which was an especially good left pad stop to deny Byron Froese. The play quickly switched to the opposite end of the ice, where Jake DeBrusk released an innocent-looking shot from the left faceoff dot that beat Karri Ramo’s glove hand with five minutes remaining in the first frame.
That was the only goal of the first period despite the Marlies owning a 15-5 advantage on the shot clock. Of Toronto’s skaters, only Rinat Valiev, Viktor Loov, Marc-Andre Cliche, Brooks Laich and Colin Greening failed to record a shot on net during the opening period.
The Marlies could consider themselves unlucky to be trailing after one of their best first periods on the road this season.
Providence came out hard early in the second period, firing the first four shots and controlling play for the first couple of minutes.
After a penalty drawn by Kery Rychel helped stem the Bruins momentum, Kasperi Kapanen came the closest to scoring on the Marlies powerplay, but McIntyre made an excellent save shifting quickly to his right.
Unable to capitalize, Toronto quickly found themselves down 2-0 after giving up yet another avoidable goal. Greening, after a lazy prod at the puck, was stripped of possession at Toronto’s blue line. Danton Heinen wasted no time in finding Colby Cave on his left. Ramo was at the top of his crease to make the save, but a big rebound provided the easiest of tap-ins for Peter Cehlarik to net his ninth of the season.
The Marlies answered back a mere 40 seconds later after Tobias Lindberg stripped the puck from Chris Casto behind the Bruins net and found Froese out front. Froese roofed his effort past McIntyre to bring Toronto back within one.
There seemed to be little in the way of momentum gained from the goal as the Bruins looked more likely to extend their lead, especially with some of the poor puck management on display from the Marlies.
The first powerplay of the game for Providence saw them nose further ahead. After Brooks Laich intercepted an intended pass in the slot but failed to clear, Wayne Simpson stripped the veteran forward before Colton Hargrove scored to make it 3-1 Bruins.
Trailing after 40 minutes has become a common occurrence this season for the Marlies, especially of late. This was the seventh time in 23 games that Toronto was required to mount a comeback.
Toronto had an early opportunity to pull within one, but Andreas Johnsson fired wide on his backhand after putting in the hard graft to generate the scoring opportunity.
After Ramo produced a fine save reaching backwards to prevent Toronto from allowing a second powerplay goal, there was little in the way of offense generated by the Marlies. The home team was playing an astute game with the lead, but the fact that the Marlies failed to register a shot until the midway mark of the third period was inexcusable.
The game appeared to be dead as a contest when the Bruins tallied for the fourth time. Ramo’s glove hand let him down again as he spilled a shot from Casto, while Cehlarik had all the time in the world to corral the rebound and slot home his second of the game.
Toronto answered right back to halve the deficit with a little under six minutes remaining. Timashov finally netted his second of the season, having last scored during the season-opening weekend.
Any thoughts of a comeback appeared to dissipate with yet another Marlies penalty, but Toronto survived the powerplay as Providence retreated into a shell somewhat.
Ramo was promptly pulled for the extra attacker with two minutes left on the clock. Andrew Nielsen was denied with 1:20 to play as McIntyre continued to pull out the big saves when required despite a lull in activity in the first half of the period. With 51 seconds remaining, the Bruins netminder had little chance of preventing Andreas Johnsson from finding the net with a measured wrist shot from the top of the right circle through traffic.
Having seen their big lead disappear, the Bruins became a little more aggressive about recovering possession in their own zone and it paid dividends. Sean Kuraly iced the game for Providence with a well-measured empty net goal from distance.
The Bruins extended their point streak to a league-leading ten games while Toronto slumped to their sixth straight road defeat (0-5-1-0) and ninth loss in their last 12 games overall.
Post Game Notes
– After 15 shots in the first period, Toronto only mustered as many shots through the second and third periods combined.
– Milan Michalek and Brendan Leipsic were scratched after failing to finish the last game in Utica due to injury.
– In his second straight start since signing a PTO, Karri Ramo again struggled, allowing four goals on 22 shots.
– Underperformance from the veterans earning the big bucks continues to be a hindrance for the Marlies. Brooks Laich and Colin Greening were culpable for a goal against apiece and continue to produce very little offensively — they have a combined eleven points in 33 games between them.
– Byron Froese netted his 10th goal of the season and is on pace to surpass his career-high tally of 19 goals in 46 games in 2014-15.
– The goal for Andreas Johnsson was his sixth of the season and first at even strength. He broke out of his 15-game scoring slump with three goals in his last six, including one in the last two consecutive.
– Dymtro Timashov appears to be on an upward curve despite the team’s recent struggles. Not everyone adapts from junior to the professional game at the same pace, but he seems to be making some gains in that regard. Two points in his last three games should provide him with a little more confidence and assurance that he can produce at this level.
Sheldon Keefe Post Game
Game Sheet – Bruins 5 vs. Marlies 3