Toronto fell to a second consecutive home defeat with an uninspired performance against the bottom-ranked team in the AHL in the school-day game at the Ricoh Coliseum on Wednesday.
With the 3-1 loss to Binghamton, Toronto has now lost three of their last four games while scoring just a combined four goal in those losses.
The opening seven minutes of the game were controlled by the Marlies, who really should have gone out to an early lead. Miro Aaltonen failed to take advantage of a giveaway inside 30 seconds, and Toronto passed up shooting opportunities far too often despite generating plenty of offensive zone time.
A power play produced two excellent chances for Kerby Rychel and various other good looks, but the Marlies weren’t clinical enough in front of goal.
After a giveaway from Rychel in the defensive zone hemmed the Marlies in for well over a minute, the momentum in the period seemed to shift in favour of Binghamton, who were now settling into the period.
Calvin Pickard was keeping the Marlies level as the Devils tested him heavily, and Toronto benefitted from a stroke of luck when Jacob MacDonald’s blast on the power play struck the post.
The Marlies were throwing the puck away with increasing frequency, allowing the Devils to attack in waves, but Binghamton was unable to take advantage late on in the period. Pickard denied Jan Mandat and made a couple of important stops on the penalty kill to ensure the game was scoreless through 20 minutes.
A spell of 4-on-4 play two and a half minutes into the middle frame led to a breakaway chance for Trevor Moore, but Ken Appleby denied the five-hole attempt. Rich Clune exited the box and his energetic shift led to a couple of good offensive sequences for the Marlies, but they couldn’t find a breakthrough before Binghamton broke the deadlock just before the midway point of the contest.
With the Marlies overloaded on the right side of the defensive zone, Michael Latta was left undetected at the backpost and had all the time in the world to measure his shot, beating Pickard bar-down.
It took until the final six minutes of the period for Toronto to threaten the Devils’ lead.
Mueller’s effort from the high slot brought a good save out of Appleby, who also turned aside a handful of other attempts, with the second and third opportunities not falling for the Marlies.
The dagger blow for Toronto arrived 43 seconds before the intermission buzzer when, after a high-sticking penalty to Colin Greening, Christoph Bertschy struck on the power play to send the Devils into the third period with a two-goal lead.
The late second-period strike seemed to shake Toronto, who looked lacklustre and short on ideas in the final frame.
A spark was badly needed and arrived at the tail-end of a Marlies power play. With two seconds left in the man advantage and the Devils caught pushing up ice while down a man, Toronto broke on a 2-on-1 and Dmytro Timashov rifled home a top-shelf shot from the right circle that beat Appleby all ends up.
Inside the final ten minutes, the game turned into a bit of a track meet as Toronto went for broke, looking to overload Binghamton but leaving themselves at the mercy of some odd-man breaks back the other way.
The Devils certainly out-worked the Marlies throughout the majority of game and that was no more apparent than when defending the lead late. They won the lion’s share of the puck battles and continued to hold the upper hand in that department when Pickard was pulled for the extra skater.
It appeared as if Binghamton had the extra man on the ice as the Devils out-fought the Marlies for a loose puck and sealed a 3-1 victory with an empty-net goal by Tim Kennedy.
It was just reward for an excellent team effort from Binghamton, but the Marlies need to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and manufacture a response with far greater tests ahead on the horizon (Rochester, Syracuse).
Post Games Notes
– This was the sixth and final game of the season series with Binghamton. Toronto held the upper hand with a 5-1 record, outscoring the Devils 20-8.
– The Marlies have given up a power play goal against in three straight games.
– Dmytro Timashov scored his 11th goal of the year in his 49th appearance of the season, matching the total from his rookie campaign (63 games).
– Justin Holl is back skating and is waiting for doctor’s clearance before being deemed available for game action.
– Andreas Johnsson is day-to-day with an upper body injury, which Sheldon Keefe doesn’t believe to be serious.
– Wednesday’s lines: