The Toronto Marlies wrapped up their road-trip in style by claiming a second victory in as many nights over Binghamton.
The Marlies strung together an impressive 5-1-0 record on the trip and now sit at 11-4-0 on the season heading into a well-earned six-day break.
The first period began brightly for Toronto, but they were unable to take advantage of chances for Miro Aaltonen and Chris Mueller.
The Devils opened the scoring on the power play after Toronto wasted their first man advantage of the game. Within seconds of winning the faceoff, the puck switched to the right circle and Joe Blandisi launched a one-time slap-shot that beat a screened Calvin Pickard.
The goal tilted the balance of play for the remainder of the period. The Marlies were indebted to Pickard, who made four stops on a second Toronto penalty kill to keep them within one after 20 minutes.
After Binghamton carried the play early in the second period and failed to trouble Pickard, Toronto began to find their feet. Their second power play was a better effort, although it didn’t result in anything tangible. By the midway point of the game, the Marlies were in total control but couldn’t forge a way past Ken Appleby between the Binghamton pipes.
Appleby turned aside 14 shots while the Devils registered just one effort on goal at the other end. That was a good scoring chance, however, as Andrew Nielsen gave the puck away in front of his own net and was thankful for Pickard bailing him out with a fantastic save on Brandon Gignac.
Toronto thought they had levelled the score late in the period. Martin Marincin let fly from the left point and Nikita Soshnikov redirected the shot past Appleby, but the goal was immediately waived off by referee Terry Koharski for a high stick. The replay clearly showed Soshnikov’s stick was below his waist — let alone the crossbar — and that Toronto had been stripped of a valid goal, but there is no video review available in the AHL.
To their credit, Toronto kept coming and put the screws to Binghamton in the third period in search of a tying goal.
Kasperi Kapanen, Mason Marchment and Aaltonen were all turned aside by Appleby while Pickard had to be alert on a partial breakaway effort by Ben Thomson.
The deserved breakthrough finally arrived with 7:04 on the clock with two Marlies goals in quick succession.
Andreas Johnsson fought hard for possession down the right wing before playing pitch and catch with Justin Holl at the offensive blue line. Johnsson created some room for himself in the process and fired home from just above the hash marks through a maze of traffic in front.
25 seconds later, Toronto took the lead. Andrew Nielsen took possession from Holl and from the half boards threw a floated shot toward goal that was tipped in by Ben Smith.
After Blandisi could have easily tied the game up only to lose the handle in tight, Toronto scored their third in six minutes.
Soshnikov was turned aside on a drive to the net from below the goal line, but Smith was on hand to clean up the leftovers in front for his second of the night.
A fourth unanswered goal was just reward after the Marlies kept the puck alive inside the Binghamton zone with a long, hard-working offensive zone shift. The Devils were back on their heels as Dmytro Timashov worked possession back to Calle Rosen at the left point. Rosen’s shot was tipped by Mueller and Kapanen was on hand to sweep home a juicy rebound.
Toronto coasted to victory from that point on and will now head home after six games in 12 days on the road.
Post Game Notes
– Toronto outshot Binghamton by a combined 27-6 through the second and third periods and 39-17 overall. “It would’ve been easy for us to just mail it in after going down early, but we just stuck with it and played some of our best hockey of the season,” said Sheldon Keefe.
“We just feel really good about our team. It’s a perfect way to finish up a trip.”
– The Marlies’ fourth goal was their 50th of the season and marked the eighth time they’ve scored four or more in a game this season.
– Trailing after 40 minutes for the fourth time this year, this was the first occasion the Marlies have taken points from that situation.
– Two goals for Ben Smith takes his season tally to eight. He’s also at point per game pace as a Marlies ever present (15 games) and ranks 8th in AHL scoring.
– Nikita Soshnikov couldn’t extend his goals streak to four games due to the disallowed goal but did pick up an assist for his fourth point in as many games.
– Kasperi Kapanen scored in his return to action after being reassigned — his fourth AHL goal in seven games.
– Justin Holl recorded a pair of assists for his first multi-point haul of the season and led all skaters with six shots.
– Jeremy Bracco played in consecutive games for the first time this season.
– Saturday’s lines:
Post-Game: Sheldon Keefe
Game Sheet: Toronto 4 vs. Binghamton 1