Toronto Marlies completed a three-in-three weekend sweep with a gutsy come-from-behind victory over Binghamton on Sunday.
Despite twice falling behind and finishing the game with a depleted bench, the Toronto Marlies extended their points streak to 16 games and their home winning streak to seven with a comeback 5-2 victory over the Devils.
Playing just their second game of the weekend, the Binghamton Devils certainly had more pep in their step in the first period. Tim Kennedy struck the post for the visitors on the game’s first power play, although scoring chances were few and far between early.
Toronto failed to capitalize on a power play of their own before falling behind with 13:29 on the clock.
Positioned on the right boards at the blue line, left-handed shot Michael Kapla threw a speculative shot at net which dipped, bounced, and deceived Garret Sparks on its way into the net. It’s one the goaltender would want back, but the bounce — the puck caught a wicked edge — certainly wasn’t easy to read.
A tying goal appeared unlikely before the intermission but arrived two and a half minutes later thanks to some hard work on the right boards in the neutral zone. Toronto denied Binghamton a zone entry and then sprung on a break led by Ben Smith. The Marlies captain patiently laid out the perfect pass to find Nikita Soshnikov, who escaped coverage with a burst of speed through the middle and sent the puck top shelf to level the score heading into the intermission.
Toronto began the middle frame on a power play carried over from the previous period but again struggled to test goaltender Ken Appleby.
Back at even strength, a terrific stretch pass from Calle Rosen sent Mason Marchment away to the races, but Appleby came racing out to the top of his crease and snuffed out the danger.
The Marlies found themselves trailing again at the four-minute mark after getting hemmed inside their own zone. The Devils hunted down possession behind Sparks’ net and the puck eventually sprung loose out in the slot to Jan Mandat, who slammed home his first of the season.
Binghamton were in the ascendancy and quickly drew themselves another power play, leading to a controversial decision from the officials. A misplay from Appleby, who had ventured out to the left circle, allowed Andreas Johnsson the chance to skate in behind the net, where he was denied on a wraparound attempt.
As Rinat Valiev was about to ease the puck into the empty net, Appleby came crashing into the cage, sending the net off its moorings in what looked to be a deliberate act to deny a goal. The officials somehow deemed it was accidental and play continued.
To Toronto’s credit, they responded the right way — shortly after killing the remainder of the penalty, they found the tying goal.
Colin Greening was denied by a good save after an excellent feed from Jeremy Bracco, but the puck retrieval that followed was key as Greening and Chris Mueller battled hard for possession on the left boards. Greening came out with the puck and beat Appleby top shelf, short-side.
The Marlies were then left with five defensemen as Justin Holl left the game after he was caught by the puck on a lofted zone entry attempt by the Devils.
That was the last thing a tired Toronto team needed, but yet again, the Marlies regrouped and found a way to fight through adversity. The power play had struggled against Binghamton this weekend, but it finally clicked at just the right time as Calle Rosen, Dmytro Timashov, Mueller and Kerby Rychel combined to put the Marlies out ahead.
A chance went begging for a fourth Toronto goal, with Bracco opting not to shoot from a great position and his intended pass to Mueller just missing at the far post.
That didn’t matter, however, as Toronto now had some jump in their step and pressured the Devils in their own zone, inducing a turnover. Andreas Borgman made a good read to pinch down the wall and cut out a pass, and after getting denied on the initial attempt, picked up his own rebound for his first as a Marlie.
A two-goal cushion was just what the doctor ordered as the Marlies looked out on their legs during stretches of the final frame.
With Martin Marincin leaving the game due to injury, the Marlies were now down to four blue-liners and were reliant on Sparks, who turned aside Nathan Bastian and then Nick Lappin on three occasions.
A fifth Toronto goal looked unlikely, but it’s arrival cemented the victory for the Marlies. Greening fired home from the top of the left circle after taking a drop pass from Frederik Gauthier, extending the Marlies win streak to seven on home ice.
Post Game Notes
– Toronto leads the season series with Binghamton 5-0-0 with one game remaining.
– Two assists for Chris Mueller gives him six points (1-5-6) in his last four outings.
– Another pair of goals for Colin Greening, who has quietly been putting together quite a run offensively with eight goals in his last 14 games. He now has 23 points on the season — just one shy of the total he managed in 69 games last year.
– Kerby Rychel broke a 13-game scoreless streak with the game-winning goal on the power play.
– Andreas Johnsson extended his points streak to six games (5g-8a-13pts) with an assist, while Ben Smith has picked up a point in each of his last four games.
– Nikita Soshnikov finished his conditioning stint with a goal and led all skaters with five shots. Soshnikov recorded five points (2-3-5) in three games during his time back in the AHL and was certainly one of the livewires in this game despite having played in all three contests this weekend.
Soshnikov now resides in limbo having been recalled to the parent club while remaining on injury reserve.
“I think he did well for us,” Sheldon Keefe said after the game. “He played a lot with good players. He scored a huge goal for us today to get us going. Contributed on the power play and the penalty kill. We’ve seen a lot of Sosh over his time with the organization and he’s done well for us every time he is here. He works hard and he’s fun to have around for me. He’s a fun guy to talk to and spend time with. We were fortunate to have him here in the last little while.”
“[In a three-in-three situation] there are times I am looking up and down the bench trying to find guys that look like they have some energy to them. I look past the guys that are clearly fatigued, and he didn’t seem to be fazed at any point in time. That was good to see. I felt like I could always call on him. For a guy who hasn’t played a lot before this three-in-three here, it was a good sign to show where he’s at.”
– Garret Sparks posted 29 saves for his 20th victory of the season and came up big for the team in the third period. He’s just one shy of equalling last season’s win total (21) achieved in 31 games.
– Justin Holl appeared to be caught by the puck just below the nose but he was kept out of the game for precautionary reasons. Scans are required to make sure Holl is okay to go next week.
– Martin Marincin was hobbling on the bench and it may have been due to blocking a shot. Sheldon Keefe didn’t seem too concerned about his status in the post-game presser.
– Sunday’s lines: