The Toronto Marlies set a new franchise record by winning their eighth consecutive game on Saturday evening.
It proved to be one of the easier road victories of the season. The Marlies ran up a first-period 3-0 lead, with Binghamton unable to exert much pressure offensively despite playing from behind nearly the entire 60 minutes.
The Devils were the masters of their own demise just 68 seconds in when an errant pass from Brian Strait allowed Andreas Johnsson to head in alone on goal. The Swedish winger made no mistake through the five-hole of MacKenzie Blackwood.
Inside six minutes, the Marlies doubled their lead. Jean Dupuy played a give-and-go to himself off the right boards and with space to measure his shot, beat Blackwood glove side for his first goal as a Marlie.
Calvin Pickard was then called into his first action of the game with a couple of sharp saves, but the Marlies were firmly on top in the opening 20 and drew consecutive power plays at the end of the period.
Calle Rosen hammered the post with a blistering shot on the first power play before Toronto broke through on the second man advantage. Jeremy Bracco jammed home a rebound at the side of the goal to put the Marlies up 3-0 heading into the intermission.
The Devils generated the first scoring opportunity of the middle frame, but Pickard was more than equal to the effort. Binghamton then proceeded to ice the puck on four separate occasions as they struggled to cope with Toronto’s speed and persistent forecheck.
Trevor Moore tested Blackwood with a high shot that forced a blocker save before Andrew Nielsen was sent to the box for closing his hand on the puck. Toronto’s vaunted penalty kill stood firm, limiting the Binghamton power play to one look of note.
Dmytro Timashov was flying back at even strength, creating two excellent chances for Chris Mueller, who should’ve done better with either of those scoring opportunities.
Consecutive power plays for the Marlies at the end of the middle frame resulted in little more than eating clock before the intermission buzzer sounded.
With the second of those power plays carrying over into third period, the Marlies came within an inch or two of netting a fourth, but the luckless Calle Rosen hit the iron once again.
A third consecutive attempt with the extra man resulted in an excellent shorthanded chance for the Devils, but Pickard denied Bracken Kearns on the breakaway.
That near-miss seemed to give the home team a little bit of momentum; allied with some sloppy play from Toronto, Binghamton exerted their first real spell of offensive-zone pressure in the game.
Former Marlie Viktor Loov had the Devils’ best chance, but Pickard got a piece of his glove on his stinging shot from the left side, keeping his shutout bid intact.
As much as Toronto was coasting toward victory — and a piece of franchise history — Pickard was dialled in in pursuit of his first clean sheet in a Marlies jersey. A turnover from Nielsen presented a breakaway chance for Kevin Rooney, but Pickard denied him with eight seconds left on the clock to notch the 12th shutout of his AHL career and a 3-0 win for the Marlies.
Post Game Notes
– The Marlies had won seven straight games on four previous occasions (including once this season) before setting a new record tonight. The eight-game win streak stretches back to December 31, 2017, and includes five victories on the road.
– The Marlies have outscored their opponents 32-9 and won seven in regulation (shootout success against Lehigh).
– Toronto currently leads the season series with Binghamton 3-0 and have outscored the Devils 11-2. The three remaining games in the series are to be played at Ricoh Coliseum.
– The Marlies are the first team to 30 wins this season in the AHL and are 19-4-0 on the road, with a chance to hit 20 in Bridgeport on Sunday.
– The penalty kill went a perfect 2-for-2, marking the 26th game this season in which they have not allowed a power play goal against.
– Calvin Pickard earned his first shutout for Toronto by posting 23 saves. After several near shutouts in his first 17 games, this was a long-overdue clean sheet. He’s now 13-5-0 this season with a save percentage of .930.
“It’s no secret that out goaltenders have been a huge part of our success this season,” said Sheldon Keefe. “Any time you have an opportunity to have a clean sheet for them is great. He was good as he’s always been this year. I thought, for the most part, our guys did a good job. I didn’t think we gave up a whole lot today.”
– Andreas Johnsson registered a goal and an assist, giving him six points (4-2-6) in the last five games.
– Jeremy Bracco has recorded goals in back-to-back outings. Tonight’s tally was his first career power play goal.
– Calle Rosen must be wondering what he has to do to score his first AHL goal. He struck the iron twice but did grab his 10th assist of the year with the helper on Dupuy’s goal.
– Timothy Liljegren, Adam Brooks and Rich Clune were healthy scratches in the middle game of a three-in-three weekend.
– Saturday’s lines: