There’s no place like the road for the Toronto Marlies, who got back to winning ways with a comprehensive victory in Belleville.
Toronto hit the 40-win mark with the 4-1 victory, with 25 of those victories coming away from the Ricoh Coliseum.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for the Marlies, as the Senators came to play in the opening 20 minutes. On the first chance of the game, Gabriel Gagne eased past Andreas Borgman and sneaked a shot through Garret Sparks, but the puck found the wrong side of the post for the Belleville forward.
Andreas Johnsson led a 3-on-1 break for Toronto at the five-minute mark but saw his pass cut out by the lone back-checking Senators player.
Justin Holl, who seemed to have his wheels back under him a few games after coming back from injury, drove the net and was shoved into goaltender Danny Taylor, leading to a dubious goaltending interference penalty at the 6:22 mark.
Toronto’s penalty kill did its job, but Belleville broke through back at even strength at the midway point. After a good save from Sparks on Max Reinhart, the Senators struck on their next foray into the offensive zone. It was a pretty passing move, but Toronto should have been tighter defensively as Daniel Ciampini and Tyler Randell set up Andreas Englund for his first goal of the season.
The Marlies struck back on the power play just 78 seconds later after almost allowing a short-handed goal. A pretty tic-tac-toe play involving Chris Mueller and Ben Smith was finished off by Trevor Moore in the slot.
There was no further scoring in the opening 20 minutes thanks to Toronto over-elaborating on a few scoring opportunities and Sparks’ two excellent stops on Gagne and Jack Rodewald.
Facing a Belleville team playing its third game in as many days, Toronto put down the hammer in the second period, outshooting the Senators by a resounding 22-4 count.
Trevor Moore was denied his second of the game but he chased down the loose puck with the help of Colin Greening and retrieved possession before dishing off to Justin Holl. The defenseman shifted to the center of the ice before throwing the puck on net, and it appeared to take a deflection on its way past Taylor.
Timed at just 30 seconds into the period, the go-ahead goal went straight to Toronto’s legs and Vincent LoVerde almost increased the advantage with a pair of shots in quick succession.
The Marlies‘ penalty kill had to go back to work five minutes into the period after another dubious call from the officials, but the Senators couldn’t create anything of note.
The Marlies earned a pair of power plays in the final 12 minutes of the middle frame and doubled their lead on the second attempt. Andrew Nielsen sent a pass right into the wheelhouse of LoVerde waiting in the left circle, where the veteran defenseman unloaded a canon of a one-timer past Taylor.
Toronto’s biggest task heading into the final frame was not getting too comfortable with their lead, and they successfully kept to the pedal to the metal in the final 20 minutes.
The Marlies out-hustled a tired Senators team while playing with the lead, forcing a turnover which saw Borgman snipe Toronto’s fourth goal of the game at the four-minute mark.
Johnsson nearly made it five but struck the crossbar on the power play. There were further chances for Adam Brooks and Mason Marchment in the final minute, to no avail.
With Sparks rarely called into action, Toronto coasted to victory in the third period and now have a week of practice to shape up ahead of some stiff tests next weekend.
Post Game Notes
– The 51 shots by the Marlies is a season-high, surpassing the 47 recorded against Syracuse this past week.
– There were three goals by Marlies defenseman as Vincent LoVerde and Andreas Borgman both recorded their third markers of the season. With his fifth of the year, Justin Holl surpassed his single AHL season career-high in points with 22.
“We missed [Holl] when he was gone,” said Sheldon Keefe. “He provides a lot for us back there. I thought all of our defense, though, had a good day today and skated well and moved the puck well and really helped us ensure we didn’t spend much time in our end and got us going offensively. That’s a big part of our team, our defense, and Hollsy is certainly a nice piece.”
– A goal and an assist for Trevor Moore, who hits the 20-point mark in his 54th game. Toronto’s opening goal was Moore’s fourth of the year on the power play.
– Ben Smith extended his points streak to five games (2-6-8) with a pair of assists.
– Garret Sparks only had to post 15 saves for the 71st victory of his AHL career. That draws him level with Justin Pogge for the winningest goaltender in Toronto Marlies franchise history.