They rescued a point after twice trailing by a pair of goals against Belleville on Friday night, but the frustrating part is that the defensive issues continue to rear their ugly head for the Toronto Marlies.

With a 5-4 overtime loss, the Marlies finished their road trip 1-2-2 and remain rooted to the foot of the North Division with a 5-6-3 record.

First Period

The Marlies carried the play for majority of this game and almost took the lead 12 seconds in, when Chris Mueller tested Filip Gustavsson following an offensive zone faceoff win.

That bright start was undone after the Marlies conceded the first goal of the game with Dmytro Timashov in the box. Jack Rodewald struck on the Senators power play with just 2:03 on the clock, as the penalty kill was over-aggressive at the blue line, allowing a tic-tac-toe play to carve them up.

The Marlies took control of the period following the opening goal, but they were unable to solve Gustavsson, who frustrated Pierre Engvall, Jeremy Bracco, Brady Ferguson, and Mueller.

Eamon McAdam held the fort down for Toronto at the other end with three excellent saves to deny Paul Carey and Rudolfs Balcers twice, keeping the deficit at one heading into the middle frame.

Second Period

On a power play that carried over from the first period, Timashov was the next player turned aside by Gustavsson and the Senators rewarded their goaltender at the other end with another early-period strike to go 2-0 up.

Just 1:48 into the middle frame, the normally-reliable Vincent LoVerde was pick-pocketed by Carey in the right circle before the puck found its way to rookie Logan Brown for his first professional goal.

To Toronto’s credit, their response was excellent and they halved Belleville’s advantage just two minutes later. Andreas Borgman’s cross-crease feed found Mueller, who was Johnny-on-the-spot to redirect from the blue paint.

From that point on, the Marlies were a little fortunate to remain competitive as Belleville didn’t capitalize on some good opportunities. A turnover resulted in the Marlies taking a penalty on the play and McAdam making another good save before the rookie goaltender remained steadfast on the ensuing Senators man advantage.

Despite registering just five shots on goal in the second period, the Marlies tied the score with four minutes remaining against the run of play. After a lobbed pass from Sam Gagner created in a race for the loose puck, Engvall outskated the Senators defense and produced a chipped finish past Gustavsson.

The officials drew some head-shaking throughout this game, with the Marlies coaching crew infuriated about a double minor penalty (a holding infraction and unsportsmanlike for disputing it) called on Jordan Subban with four minutes remaining in the period after missing a high stick on Bracco, a rugby tackle on Timashov, and a trip on Grundstrom.

Toronto’s penalty kill stepped up to keep Belleville off the board, with McAdam barely called on as the scoreline remain tied at 2-2 heading into the third period.

Third Period

The Marlies’ penchant for defensive breakdowns and their inability to start periods on time led an early-period goal against once again in the final frame. Stuart Percy found Jordan Murray waiting to the left of the net, and while McAdam was out of position, the fact that the Murray was so wide open is the more concerning part for the Marlies.

Just 17 seconds elapsed before Belleville re-established their two-goal lead on an odd-man rush. Jack Rodewald teed up Christian Wolanin to slam home a one-timer, giving the Senators a 4-2 inside 90 seconds of the third period.

Ben Sexton almost made it a third quick goal but his effort found the iron and the hosts rather sat back on their lead from that moment on.

The Marlies’ struggling power play wasted three straight opportunities before their rookie defenseman showed them the way with a little over five minutes remaining. Rasmus Sandin let fly with a one-time shot from between the top of the circles to bring Toronto within one.

After another power play went to waste, with time slipping away, McAdam was pulled for the extra attacker. It paid dividends, as Sam Gagner’s shot-pass toward the net was tipped by Mueller, tying the game at 4-4 with less than 15 seconds remaining.

Overtime resulted in just one shot apiece, and it was Belleville who made theirs count.
A turnover from Dmytro Timashov eventually resulted in an odd-man rush for the Senators, with Timashov ending up as the last man back.

A forward defending a 2v1  was easy picks for Chase Balisy to tee up Wolanin for his second of the game to seal the extra point for Belleville.

Post Game Notes

Sheldon Keefe summed the Marlies night up well after the game: “We did fight back twice in the game, which is great, and I thought we carried play for large chunks of time. The concerns are that we continue to make big mistakes that end up costing us. We got a really good goaltending performance today and we spoiled that by making it hard with the types of chances we gave up as a result of either missed assignments without the puck or turnovers with it.”

– Two assists for Jeremy Bracco extend his points streak to five games (seven assists).

Chris Mueller scored a pair of goals for the second straight game and is currently riding a six-game point streak (6-4-10).

Rasmus Sandin scored his third goal in just six games and increased his points tally to five on the season as the dream start continues for him individually. The rookie defenseman also registered a career-high four shots on goal.

Sam Gagner assisted on both tying goals and took his season total to 14 points (6-8-14) in as many games.

Andreas Borgman extended his points streak to six games with a lone assist (1-6-7).

Brady Ferguson made his season debut and certainly didn’t look out of place, ringing a scoring chance off the goaltenders mask and forcing a good pad save out of Gustavsson on another.

Rich Clune returned to the lineup with one veteran spot open due to Adam Cracknell’s absence through injury.

Kasimir Kaskisuo backed up McAdam and is 100% healthy, according to Todd Crocker. Expect the Finnish goaltender to start in Saturday’s home game against the Binghamton Devils.

– Friday’s lines:

Timashov – Mueller – Bracco
Engvall – Gagner – Grundstrom
Marchment-Ferguson – Jooris
Clune – Greening – Molino

Rosen – Liljegren
Sandin – LoVerde
Borgman – Subban


Post-Game: Sheldon Keefe