The Toronto Marlies completed a three-goal comeback but left Bridgeport pointless on Saturday.
The Marlies have found a way to generate offense all of a sudden but can’t seem to keep the puck out of their net this weekend, allowing four goals for the second consecutive game.
Toronto dug themselves a hole in the opening period, as has been commonplace for them on the road. After killing off an early penalty, Toronto allowed the first goal just four minutes in. Ross Johnston was allowed to coast around the back of the net and attempt a wraparound effort that was denied by Antoine Bibeau, creating a rebound for Ben Holstrom. The unmarked Bridgeport forward had plenty of space to fire home his fourth of the season.
When played resumed, a giveaway from Viktor Loov presented the puck to Kellen Jones, whose effort rang off the post. Toronto then gave up their second goal in the span of 69 seconds. After losing a series of board battles, Connor Jones shifted the puck to Ryan Pulock just inside the blue line and Pulock blasted a one-timer by Bibeau for Bridgeport’s second goal on their first three shots.
Toronto failed to generate anything in the way of offense until their powerplay at the eight-minute mark. Brendan Leipsic and debutant Seth Griffith were both denied by Jaroslav Halak before the best chance fell to Dmytro Timashov, who had his stick lifted at the critical moment.
A too-many-men penalty was the last thing the Marlies needed as they attempted to get a foothold in the game. It almost resulted in a shorthanded goal, however — Tony Cameranesi chased down a loose puck on the left side and drove across the net, but he was denied by a great pad save from Halak.
Toronto finally manufactured some sustained pressure in the final five minutes of the first. Leipsic fired high when looking to go top shelf from a tight angle, and Brett Findlay was denied from the slot by Halak after a nice set up by Kerby Rychel. Andreas Johnsson and Justin Holl failed to create a scoring chance on an odd man rush before Halak denied Leipsic after good work from Griffith.
A late penalty taken by Trevor Moore meant Toronto had to start the second period down a man, but the Marlies killed it off with ease.
Bad habits crept back into the Marlies‘ game back at even strength, however. Turning the puck over with regularity came back to bite Toronto as Bridgeport made it 3-0 less than five minutes into the period. Andrew Rowe couldn’t miss all alone in front of the blue paint.
A powerplay for the Marlies at the midway switched the momentum of the game after Andreas Johnsson managed to jam the puck home on a broken play off of a faceoff. The goal gave Toronto some much need impetus and they proceeded to hem the home team in their own zone.
The Marlies’ second goal in a five-minute span came from an unlikely source. Picking up his own rebound, Leipsic found Travis Dermott standing by the crease and the rookie defenseman squeezed the puck by Halak for his first professional goal.
Having their lead slashed to one seemed to jolt Bridgeport into life late in the period. The Sound Tigers really should have done better with an odd man rush, and they almost scored during the delayed portion of a powerplay but Bibeau kept them at bay twice before the buzzer sounded.
The final frame began with more pressure from Bridgeport, who were throwing everything they could at the Marlies net — including a hockey stick that flew high over the glass and into the crowd. With a few players distracted by that unusual event, Rychel and Findlay escaped on a breakaway together, where Findlay finished off Rychel’s rebound.
After fighting back from three goals down, Toronto got away from their game again. Steve Bernier rocked Johnsson and Loov took exception, dropping the gloves with Bernier. In what was more a grappling match than a fight, the officials ruled that Loov was worthy of an extra two minutes for roughing.
A curious call from the four man crew, but it was a situation Loov should have avoided with the game in the balance. On the penalty kill for the fifth time, the Marlies could no longer stave off the Bridgeport powerplay. Bibeau was unable to hold onto a drive from Pulock and Bracken Kearns was on hand to poke home the rebound for his 16th of the year.
With Toronto pressing for a tying goal, there was more space on the ice and chances were materializing at both ends. Pulock and Bernier had openings for Sound Tigers, while the Marlies were shooting on sight from the points but were having no luck as far as second opportunities.
Bibeau kept his team in the game as misplaced passes and poor decision-making were again causing the Marlies problems inside their own zone. A shot from Connor Jones hit Toronto’s goaltender flush in the mask and would have trickled in behind him if not for a last ditch clearance.
Having survived the near scare, the Marlies made a strong final push and pulled Bibeau during a period of sustained pressure. Toronto created two good chances to tie the game late on, both through Brendan Leipsic, but Halak was equal to both to secure his team’s third consecutive victory.
Post Game Notes
– A first professional goal for Travis Dermott, who was far and away Toronto’s best defenceman in this game.
– Andreas Johnsson potted his seventh powerplay goal of the season and his second in as many nights.
– Seth Griffith made a solid debut and recorded a secondary assist on Dermott’s goal. He found some instant chemistry alongside Froese and Leipsic.
– Brendan Leipsic’s lone helper was his 100th AHL career assist. He led the team with six shots on goal.
– Kerby Rychel registered two primary assists, giving him six helpers in his last two games.
– Tempers flared at the end of this game and the officials handed out ten minute misconducts to both Brendan Leipsic and Rich Clune.