The Toronto Marlies extended their points streak to three games with a hard-fought victory over the Laval Rocket at Coca-Cola Colesium on Tuesday night.
This was a much better defensive effort from the Marlies, who gave up just 12 shots in the opening 40 minutes and 20 through regulation time. Laval found it tough sledding gaining the zone as the Marlies stiffened up with better structure through neutral ice — an area head coach Sheldon Keefe was looking for improvement in after a leaky start to the season defensively.
This rare Tuesday night tilt was by no means a classic, with just three shots recorded in the opening ten minutes, as both teams were defense focused and minimized the amount of risk taking early on. Cal Grundstrom should have opened up the scoring, but he struck the post from low in the slot.
Jeff Glass faced just three shots in total through the opening 20 minutes, but his best stop was on Michael McCarron after the Laval forward was afforded too much space down the left side.
Scoreless through the opening frame, the second period also didn’t produce a goal despite power play opportunities for both teams.
The Marlies‘ first attempt with the extra man resulted in just one good look for Grundstrom before Laval took momentum from the kill and mustered their best spell of the game back at even strength. Glass kept the Rocket off the board with a glove save off a one-time slap-shot.
The Marlies then drew consecutive penalties resulting in 30 seconds of a two-man advantage. The Toronto power play unit passed up too many shooting opportunities as Laval’s third-ranked penalty kill won the special teams battle.
The Rocket could have broken the deadlock late in the frame, but Glass denied former Marlie Byron Froese on a backhand attempt in tight.
It felt like the first goal of the game was going to be vital at this point, and a Marlies penalty 41 seconds into the third period was tempting fate. The penalty kill remained steadfast, however, before the Marlies broke through with 13:47 remaining.
On what seemed like a fairly harmless play, Colin Greening picked up the puck off backboards on the cycle and jammed it past an off-guard Charlie Lindgren on the wraparound attempt.
Both teams squandered an additional power play opportunity as Toronto looked to see the game out without threatening a whole lot offensively.
It came out of nowhere that Laval tied the game up inside the final four minutes on a broken play. After Laval won the draw, a bobbling puck was swatted towards the net and eventually found Cale Fleury alone in the slot, where the rookie snuck a shot through Glass.
For the second time in three games, the Marlies headed to overtime. After Glass came up with a huge stop to deny Chaput, a shootout looked imminent only for a former Rocket, now-Marlie to take center stage.
Adam Cracknell curled around the offensive zone at 3-on-3 for a while before waltzing straight into the heart of the slot more or less unchallenged to beat Lindgren with a wrist shot blocker side.
Post Game Notes
– Adam Cracknell recorded his first game-winner and second goal of the season. That gives him six points in eight games, and yet it feels as though he has another level to find in his game still.
“He’s an experienced guy that has shown he can produce offensively,” said Sheldon Keefe. “He also helps on the penalty kill. Very reliable guy for us.”
– Pierre Engvall sat out for a second straight game due to injury.
– J.J. Piccinich recorded his first point of the season with the primary assist on Colin Greening’s goal.
– Jeff Glass posted 24 saves for his second consecutive victory. He made some good saves when called on and kept rebounds to a minimum. With Kasimir Kaskisuo out long-term and no immediate help forthcoming, the Marlies need Glass to build some momentum and confidence off of the recent victories.
“He’s just settling in,” said Keefe. “Our team playing better in front of him defensively has really helped. He’s looking calm and relaxed and is handling the puck very well. For both he and Kaskisuo, we made life very hard on them early on defensively, so it was tough to be a goaltender for our team. We are making life a little bit easier on them and they’re making the saves and giving us chances to win.”
– Adam Brooks is back skating but is at least a week away from returning to the lineup.
– Rasmus Sandin was officially loaned to Marlies last Friday, with Sheldon Keefe confirming the rookie is now healthy and that he will stay with the Marlies this season.
“We are taking it a day at a time with him,” said Keefe. “The only thing with him now is that it’s been quite some time since he’s played a game and we want to make sure he is ready by getting full practices and full reps. We expect him to be back in the near future here — if not next game, surely it will be the one after that.”
– Tuesday’s lines:
Grundstrom – Mueller – Bracco
Timashov – Cracknell – Gagner
Marchment – Jooris – Moore
Molino – Greening – Piccinich
Rosen – Liljegren
Borgman – LoVerde
Jardine – Subban