The Toronto Marlies bounced back from a disappointing defeat in Utica by dispatching the Manitoba Moose at the Ricoh Coliseum on Friday night.
They’re at the foot of the Western Conference, but the Moose were more than a match at times for the Marlies, who were flattered by the final margin of victory. This win came thanks to the Marlies‘ highly-effective powerplay and a great performance from Antoine Bibeau, who turned aside 27 shots over the final 40 minutes of play.
The opening three minutes were played at a frantic pace, with the best chance falling to the Moose when Brendan Lemieux fired wide from the high slot.
Toronto began to assert some pressure during a spell of four-on-four hockey three minutes into the first. Seth Griffith saw his low wrist shot turned aside by Eric Comrie after a good individual effort before Frank Corrado drew the first powerplay of the game.
Byron Froese was robbed by Comrie and then hit the crossbar before the Marlies made the man advantage count. Dmytro Timashov took possession in the left circle and his intended pass hit the skate of a defenseman in front before finding the net past a wrong-footed Comrie.
The visitors pushed back following the goal and were the better team at even strength for the ensuing eight minutes of play.
A wraparound attempt from Greening with a little under seven minutes on the clock was just Toronto’s fifth shot of the period, but it began a momentum shift back in favour of the Marlies.
Froese drew a tripping penalty in the slot area, leading to the Marlies doubling their lead at the 18:34 mark of the period. Timashov turned provider, sending a perfect cross-ice feed from the left circle to Trevor Moore on the opposite side of the rink. The puck was barely on the rookie’s stick before it was off the iron and goal-bound for Moore’s ninth of the season.
A powerplay for Manitoba carried over into the second period but Antoine Bibeau went untested on the PK.
The Moose were lucky not to fall further behind 74 seconds into the middle frame after gifting the puck to Froese and space to Griffith in the slot. After Comrie denied the latter, the visitors set about Toronto with gusto, absolutely dominating the hosts for the next eight or so minutes.
Patrice Cormier, Lemieux and JC Lipon were turned aside by Bibeau, who then made a wonderful save on Jimmy Lodge on the next penalty kill.
With the Marlies heavily under siege and unable to clear their lines, Sheldon Keefe was forced into a timeout with less than six minutes played, but it proved a futile attempt to stem the flow. Toronto won the faceoff to restart play but failed to corral the puck. Manitoba jumped on possession and Quinton Howden went uncontested as he ripped a shot past Bibeau from the slot 6:06 into the period.
The Marlies were a little fortunate not to concede a tying goal, but they worked their way into the period around the midway mark before netting the crucial next goal. Froese won possession on the left boards before handing off to Griffith, who found William Wrenn in the right circle. Wrenn — who was in the lineup because of Travis Dermott’s absence — ripped his shot off the post and it fell kindly for Moore, who had an easy finish into an empty net.
Toronto was now in the ascendancy and came close to adding a fourth goal on the powerplay. There probably should have been a penalty called on Gauthier’s subsequent rush — he was hauled back at the crucial moment — but it mattered little. After the restart, Moore struck the iron before Griffith found Froese between the hash marks. Froese netted his 24th of the season with an unstoppable one-timer.
Brett Findlay’s needless slashing penalty put Toronto under pressure to end the middle frame, but Bibeau was once again excellent when called upon. Jack Roslovic, an exciting young prospect for the Jets and Manitoba’s leading scorer, was denied his tenth goal of the season by Bibeau’s excellent glove save.
While the Marlies penalty kill stood firm, the Moose were again on top at the beginning of a period. Toronto was unable to exit their zone for almost a minute but managed to further extended their lead when they did.
The Moose pulled Comrie in favour of Jamie Phillips at the intermission and the replacement netminder was picking the puck of the net just 71 seconds into his game. Somehow Griffith was left unattended at the side of the net and couldn’t miss after Froese found him with a tape-to-tape feed.
The Marlies started to sit back and were sloppy in all aspects of their play through the rest of the third period. Giving up consecutive powerplay opportunities wasn’t helping Toronto’s cause, and Manitoba made them pay on the second man advantage when Chase De Leo’s effort took a deflection off the back of Andrew Campbell, giving Bibeau little chance.
There were still ten minutes left to play and the Moose were flying around the Marlies zone in pursuit of a third. A little too aggressive in a battle for the puck, a Manitoba penalty relieved the pressure for Toronto, although the Marlies never looked like scoring with the extra man.
Despite a strong late push, any thoughts of a comeback for Manitoba were extinguished as the final minutes wound down. Bibeau certainly didn’t deserve a third goal against with the way he played throughout the 60 minutes, and with 45 seconds remaining he robbed Scott Glennie with a tremendous glove save.
Post Game Notes
– This was the 25th victory of the season for Toronto, with nine of those wins coming in the last 12 games.
– The Marlies went two for four on the powerplay, taking their season total to 56 with the man advantage. That’s good for second-best in the league, only behind the Grand Rapids Griffins (60 powerplay goals).
– Byron Froese is now the AHL’s leading goal scorer with 24 to his name. He also notched his 100th career AHL point in the process. Of his 101 AHL career points, 49 are goals.
– After going two games without a point, Seth Griffith returned to the scoresheet in a big way with a goal and two assists on Friday.
– Trevor Moore continues to flourish on the top line, notching two goals and an assist in Friday’s game. He has put together five multi-point hauls in his last 13 games, including six goals. Moore’s recent form since his promotion up the lineup:
|TOR @ HFD||1||1||2||2|
|TOR @ BRI||0||0||0||0|
|TOR @ SPR||0||1||1||1|
|TOR @ RCH||0||1||1||3|
|TOR @ STJ||0||2||2||1|
|TOR @ STJ||0||1||1||3|
|SYR @ TOR||2||0||2||3|
|SYR @ TOR||0||0||0||3|
|UTI @ TOR||0||1||1||2|
|TOR @ UTI||1||2||3||1|
|ALB @ TOR||0||1||1||1|
|TOR @ UTI||0||0||0||2|
|MB @ TOR||2||1||3||3|
– Antoine Bibeau thrived under the heavy workload of 37 shots, recording his best save percentage since December 18, and this was undoubtedly his best performance of 2017. The Quebec native has won all three starts against Manitoba this season.
– Two assists for Frank Corrado extends his points streak to five and brings his season total up to 11 points in 13 games.
– Travis Dermott was absent from Friday’s game due to illness.
Post-Game: Sheldon Keefe
Game Sheet – Toronto 5 vs. Manitoba 2