In one of the most extraordinary 20-minute periods in franchise history, the Toronto Marlies blew a three-goal lead in the third.
The Binghamton Senators struck seven times in the final frame, albeit with much help from the officials, during a Saturday afternoon tilt at the Air Canada Centre.
The madness began 30 seconds into the third period when Patrick Sieloff cross-checked Brendan Leipsic and Colin Greening. Greening had gone in to defend his teammate, yet both Marlies were sent to the box along with the Binghamton defenceman.
Roll forward another 20 seconds, Jack Rodewald sold a hit from Justin Holl, who joined his two teammates in the penalty box.
With two extra men, the Senators’ Jason Akeson netted his 15th of the season with a top-shelf finish. As the second penalty expired, Binghamton scored again to cut Toronto’s lead to 4-3 — a long-range effort from Ben Harpur appeared to change direction in front and Antoine Bibeau was unable to make the save despite a desperate diving attempt.
The indiscriminate calls weren’t done there, however; Andreas Johnsson was mysteriously called for high-sticking when a face wash was the worst infringement on the play. The Marlies made sure no damage was done by killing off the two minutes that followed.
Perhaps still reeling from the shock of what happened, Toronto rarely threatened the visitors’ net in next five or so minutes. The pivotal moment of the game then came with eight minutes remaining following another baffling decision from the officials.
Rinat Valiev clashed with Akeson just outside the Marlies blue line on the right boards.
You could accuse the Toronto defenceman of a little interference, but Akeson certainly hauled down Valiev as well. Play was allowed to continue as the Binghamton forward drove inside the offensive zone before rifling home the tying goal from low in the right circle.
By now, Toronto’s players had lost the plot. Adding to the home team’s anger was a lack of calls in their favour immediately before the goal and in previous moments between the third and fourth Senators tallies, with numerous cross-checks and hooks left unpunished.
Unable to regain their composure, the Marlies suffered an utter meltdown from this point on. It was only a matter of time before the visitors took the lead.
Shortly after Leipsic struck the post during a rare foray into Binghamton’s zone, a bad turnover from Kerby Rychel just inside the Marlies blue line proved costly. Max McCormick was the recipient of the turnover and no Toronto player was close enough to Nick Paul to prevent him from scoring on the rebound after Bibeau stopped McCormick’s initial effort.
Only 11 seconds elapsed before the Senators took a 6-4 lead, with Chad Nehring scoring from a bad angle on a backhand shot that Bibeau would want back.
The scoring still wasn’t finished after another brain fart of epic proportions from the Marlies. With Bibeau pulled for the extra attacker, Toronto was casual with the puck inside their own zone, gifting Rodewald the easiest goal he’ll score this season.
All hell broke loose upon the resumption of play, with Rychel going after Sieloff and McCormick jumping on top of both players as the third man into the altercation. The officials were quickly in to intervene but McCormick carried on, punching anyone within arm’s reach. He connected with the officials at least four times and should hopefully pay a price with the league for his actions.
With Rychel tabbed for instigating and Greening for roughing, Toronto found themselves back on the penalty kill. After Steve Oleksy was rightly tabbed for delay of game, the Marlies found themselves down by two men once again. Nehring tipped a shot from Brandon Gormley for his second of the game and Binghamton’s eighth, which finished off the scoring.
The third-period shenanigans belied what had been an efficient first 40 minutes of play from the Marlies. Toronto led 2-0 heading into the first intermission, outshooting Binghamton 15-6 in the process.
The Marlies struck with two extra men through Kerby Rychel, who jammed the puck by Chris Driedger after a power move from the side of the net.
A trailing Travis Dermott netted the second after Mike Sislo had his shot blocked on a set-up from Johnsson.
The middle frame was a more even affair, but Toronto was still able to score twice. The teams shared a pair of goals inside of a minute — Seth Griffith scored his fifth of the year with a one-timer from the left circle on a good passing play involving Andrew Nielsen and Brett Findlay before Binghamton’s Chris Carlyle tipped a shot from Paul.
A trademark power play goal from Mike Sislo then restored the Marlies three-goal lead heading into the third.
This was a thoroughly disappointing loss for Toronto, but it’s all about the response now. Sometimes the nature of this kind of defeat has the effect of rallying a team and providing extra focus.
There was no off day for the Marlies, who practiced Sunday and return to action on Tuesday evening when Rochester comes to town.
Post Game Notes
– Kerby Rychel scored his fifth goal in as many games.
– Mike Sislo recorded his third multi-point effort in just his seventh game for Toronto.
– Cal O’Reilly registered his second multi-assist game as a Marlie.
– Seth Griffith extended his points streak to five games. The goal was his first in a month, breaking a 12 game scoreless spell.
Post-Game: Sheldon Keefe
Game Sheet – Binghamton 8 vs. Toronto 4