The Toronto Marlies carried the play for large chunks of this game, but special teams and a few key defensive mistakes led to a third straight defeat after digging themselves another 2-0 hole.
“It’s a fine line between winning and losing,” said Sheldon Keefe. “We made a couple of mistakes and they end up in our net, and when they made mistakes, we didn’t make them pay.”
The opening period was relatively low-event until the first power play of the game resulted in Binghamton breaking the deadlock at the eight-minute mark.
The Devils got the set up they wanted and moved the puck with purpose before Colton White’s shot from the middle of the zone was tipped in by Blake Pietila past the returning Kasimir Kaskisuo.
The Marlies controlled the majority of the possession for the remaining 12 minutes, but they did very little with it. Two power plays were wasted, with the best chance of the period falling to Sam Gagner, who was robbed by Mackenzie Blackwood while looking top shelf.
The middle frame brought on more frustration for the Marlies as they dominated at even strength but couldn’t find their breakthrough on the scoreboard.
A coast-to-coast rush by Calle Rosen resulted in Blackwood turning aside his shot and Griffen Molino was called for goaltender interference in his desperate dive for the rebound.
Kaskisuo kept the Marlies wiithin one with a pair of saves during the penalty kill, but his counterpart at the other end of the ice also remained tough to beat through the middle frame.
Two frantic scrambles in front of the Devils netminder resulted in little puck luck for Toronto, and when Jeremy Bracco’s excellent piece of play around the net teed up Frank Corrado, the defenseman’s shot grazed the wrong side of the twine.
A third power play for the Marlies only resulted in two excellent shorthanded chances for the hard-working Devils PK units as Toronto were stubborn with their over-use of the drop pass on their entries.
Andrew Nielsen came the closest to tying up proceedings as he opted to shoot when leading a 2-on-1 rush, but his effort clipped the outside of the far post with Blackwood beaten.
The Marlies penchant for defensive-zone turnovers has cost them dearly this season, and after Adam Brooks allowed himself to be pickpocketed by Nick Lappin on the left boards, what followed felt inevitable. The Devils forward walked into the high slot and beat Kaskisuo blocker side with a low shot to give the Devils a 2-0 lead through 40 minutes.
The third period was extensively one-way traffic in Blackwood’s direction, but the Marlies fell short in their comeback attempt. Power plays four and five were both frittered away, as the Marlies seemingly had their eye on scoring the perfect goal instead of putting rubber toward the net.
Chris Mueller was denied by Blackwood’s best save of the game in tight, and Toronto really turned up the heat when Carl Grundstrom came even closer with a tip from the slot that hit the iron following a slap pass from Vincent LoVerde.
The Marlies finally solved Blackwood, although it took a 5-on-3 power play to do so. The puck was worked around to Sam Gagner in the slot, where the veteran scorer beat the Devils netminder with a perfect-placed top-shelf shot.
There was still over eight minute remaining to find a tying marker, but despite recording 24 shots in the final frame, a second goal eluded the Marlies, who fell to a third straight loss.
Post Game Notes
– While they’ve given up the fewest amount of power plays (60) in the Eastern Conference, Toronto’s penalty kill is ranked joint worst alongside Binghamton Devils at 75% and has allowed at least one goal against in six straight games.
– The Marlies posted a season-high shot total of 43.
“In terms of the process, in terms of how our guys worked here in a back-to-back against a rested team, and the way that we got better as the game went on, there were a lot of positive signs with our team just digging in and continuing to work,” said Keefe. “It would’ve been nice to get rewarded, but nobody just hands it to you.”
– Kasimir Kaskisuo returned to the line-up for the first time since a lower-body injury incurred on October 14 against Utica. The Finnish goaltender was solid in posting 23 saves.
– Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren were given a breather during the three-in-three weekend.
– Andrew Nielsen dressed for his first outing since October 19 and put in an adequate performance considering. He was unlucky not to score on an odd-man rush.
– Adam Brooks returned after concerns over his heart rate, while Giorgio Estephan made his Marlies debut.
– The secondary helper on the lone Marlies goal gives Calle Rosen five assists in as many games. He led all skaters with seven shots.
– Saturday’s lines: