The Toronto Marlies fell to defeat at the hands of the Manitoba Moose for the second time in 24 hours.

It’s the first time this season that Toronto has lost consecutive games, and the result never looked in doubt once Manitoba got their noses in front early in the second period.

First Period

Amid a bright start for the Marlies, Andreas Johnsson should have done better than to fire wide from the slot a minute into the game. Toronto then took the lead seven minutes later; Rinat Valiev rushed the puck up ice, gained the blue line, and dropped to Ben Smith, who seemed to catch Michael Hutchinson off guard with a (possibly slightly deflected) wrist shot from the high slot.

The advantage lasted just six minutes as the Moose capitalized seconds after their first power play of the game expired. Toronto failed to clear the zone on two occasions, and Justin Holl was yet to make it back into the play coming out of the box before Nic Petan found some space to fire home a one-timer from the slot.

Each team had an opportunity to grab the lead before the first intermission, but Calvin Pickard robbed Cam Maclise in tight and Kerby Rychel fired wide from a similar position on a set up from Smith.

Second Period

It was a pretty forgettable game for Justin Holl, who was out muscled two minutes into the second frame by Chase De Leo, but Pickard again came to his team’s rescue to deny the Manitoba forward on a breakaway opportunity.

Toronto’s goaltender was furious shortly afterwards when the visitors struck for a second time. Pickard was adamant the goal shouldn’t have counted — seemingly appealing for either goaltender interference or a high stick — but Kirill Gotovets didn’t care as he was initially credited with his first of the year (later given to Buddy Robinson for the deflection).

Despite outshooting the Moose 14-9 through the middle frame, Toronto really never gave Hutchinson any serious trouble in the Manitoba net.

Manitoba should have increased their lead inside the final five minutes when Buddy Robinson broke in alone with all the time in the world, but Pickard pulled off a ten-bell glove save to keep the game within reach.

While on the power play, a turnover inside the Marlie zone should have led to a short-handed marker for the Moose. A sloppy drop pass ended up on the stick of Robinson, who rounded Pickard and Aaltonen behind the net before sending the puck to Patrice Cormier, who had an empty net.

Enter into the fray Toronto’s third goaltender: Miro Aaltonen dove full length across the crease to deny a certain goal with the puck deflecting wide via his helmet.

Third Period

Much like the day before, Manitoba sat back and attempted to protect their slender lead in the final frame. The best opportunity for Toronto to level the game came during a 48-second 5-on-3 power play early in the period.

Jeremy Bracco was the recipient of a backdoor feed, but his effort wasn’t elevated enough to beat the left toe of Hutchinson.

The insurance marker for the visitors arrived with 8:30 remaining thanks to yet another avoidable turnover. Inside his own zone, Holl put the puck on a plate for Jack Roslovic, who beat Pickard glove side high from in tight.

Toronto went for broke by pulling Pickard with four minutes remaining, but it proved futile as Manitoba added salt to the wound with two empty-net markers in 40 seconds.

A 5-1 final is Toronto’s largest margin of defeat this season. They’ll need to respond with a pair of tough road games in Utica coming up this week.

Post Game Notes

– Toronto handed over top spot in the AHL standings to Manitoba this weekend after two consecutive defeats.

Ben Smith netted his 12th goal of the season and was one of Toronto’s few bright spots.

Andreas Johnsson played for the first time this weekend after being absent due to sickness. Understandably, he was far from his best.

Andrew Nielsen was benched for the third period after a series of turnovers.

Travis Dermott missed a second straight game presumably due to injury.

Michael Palliota played just his third game of the year and just his first since October 15. He’s likely to see more ice time with Martin Marincin’s call-up, Timothy Liljegren away with Sweden, Travis Dermott’s playing status being unknown, and Andrew Nielson’s less-than-stellar recent play.

Martins Dzierkals emerged from his first weekend in the AHL with no points, three shots on goal, and some encouraging words from his head coach.

“He skates, he’s good on the forecheck,” said Sheldon Keefe. “He had some energy and some life. It’s a big adjustment for a young player to come in and play against one of the top teams in both games.”

– Sunday’s lines:




Game Highlights

Post-Game: Sheldon Keefe