Power play goals, a shorthanded tally, two defensemen out through injury, and a late hit followed by a line brawl just about sums up a crazy North Division tilt between Toronto and Binghamton on Wednesday night.
The 3-1 win marks just the second time this season that the Marlies have strung together three successive victories.
“A lot of different challenges today that we had to face,” said Sheldon Keefe. “We faced it head on and found a way to win a very tough, very physical hockey game. Really good for our team.”
The opening frame was action packed with plenty of scoring chances, but the Marlies couldn’t solve Binghamton netminder Cam Johnson.
Sam Gagner could have had a hat-trick inside the first nine minutes, but he couldn’t convert on a breakaway, a one-time effort during a 2-on-1 break, and then on the game’s first power play.
Trevor Moore also failed to capitalize on the man advantage as the trailer coming down the middle of the ice.
The Marlies continued to create opportunities, with Carl Grundstrom robbed in tight following a slap pass from Vincent LoVerde and Colin Greening denied in alone from the slot.
The tide somewhat turned with Binghamton’s first power play of the period with six minutes remaining — Eamon McAdam was forced into two good saves, giving the Devils a jolt for the remainder of the period.
They somehow didn’t score during a mad scramble in the Toronto crease following an initial shot by Blake Pietila, with bodies sprawled out around McAdam, who did enough to keep the puck out.
Moore then almost produced an opening goal out of nothing by stealing the puck on the Binghamton goal line; with his back to net, he whistled a no-look backhand attempt just wide of the post.
Sam Jardine ended up dropping the gloves at the end of the period with Brandon Baddock after the Binghamton forward attempted to run over McAdam.
The Marlies were not as much of a threat offensively in the middle frame and almost fell behind inside 15 seconds as Kevin Rooney’s shot rang the iron.
A parade to the penalty box by the Devils gave Toronto a pair of shortened 5-on-3 power plays they weren’t able to convert on, but they finally opened the scoring with one extra man at the 8:30 mark. Carl Grundstrom sniped short-side blocker on Johnson from the left faceoff circle dot after a nice zone entry and drop pass from Dmytro Timashov.
The lead lasted less than four minutes as the Devils struck back on a power play of their own. It was one McAdam would likely want back, as Blake Speers’ shot snuck through his equipment and trickled across the goal line.
After already losing Calle Rosen to injury in the first period, Andreas Borgman also didn’t return after picking up a knock, and the Marlies lacked fluency without two of their top-four defenseman.
Toronto nearly snatched the lead in the final seconds nonetheless, but Mason Marchment’s initial shot was denied, Adam Brooks was also stopped on the rebound, and Marchment’s follow-up effort was directed high over the net.
The final frame was a tightly-contested 20 minutes and a non-event as far as scoring chances went until nine minutes were left in the game. The Marlies capitalized on their sixth power play of the night, with Moore slotting home from in tight after his intended pass bounced back to him off a defenseman’s skate.
Just two minutes later, all hell broke loose following a late and reckless high hit by Morgan Klimchuk on Michael McLeod. A line brawl ensued that involved Johnson crossing the red line, although McAdam showed no interest in engaging his opposite number. The resulting brawl saw Toronto lose their third defenseman of the night as Sam Jardine was ejected from the game along with Morgan Klimchuk and Pierre Engvall.
The final count-up after an incredibly long delay as the officials sifted through the carnage: Two minutes of 4v4 and a three-minute power play for the Devils.
Toronto’s shortened bench did an excellent job of killing the penalty and went the extra mile by netting a shorthanded insurance marker. Marchment stripped the puck away from Pietila before Moore retrieved the loose puck and dished it back to Marchment, who fired home top shelf past Johnson.
That secured a 3-1 victory on home ice and extended the Marlies’ current win streak to three games.
Post Game Notes
– A third straight multi-point game for Trevor Moore (1-1-2) moves him up to third in league goal scoring with his 16th tally of the season.
With the blue line shorthanded, Sheldon Keefe used him for a few shifts on defense.
“He was the first guy that I went to,” said Keefe. “He’s got such good instincts and such good speed. He is competitive. Also, in his first year for us here, he spent some time on defense in practice and was very good, very strong, and very confident. I’ve always kind of had that in the back of my mind. I was excited to do it, to be honest. With a player like that, he can bring a lot from the backend offensively.”
– Jeremy Bracco extended his point streak to four games (3-5-8) with an assist.
– Carl Grundstrom opened the scoring and now has goals in back-to-back games after going nine without finding the net.
– Eamon McAdam posted 29 saves for his seventh victory this season.
– No update on how serious the injuries are to Calle Rosen and Andreas Borgman. The Marlies do have Stefan LeBlanc and Jordan Subban waiting in the wings, however, as immediate cover.
“For the D that were left and had to take on so much extra, it’s pretty gutsy on their part,” said Keefe. “You’re asking a lot of them. We had forwards stepping up. We ended up giving Trevor Moore one, maybe two shifts on the back and had a number of other guys volunteering and wanting to go. Sam Gagner was out there for a little bit killing a penalty no less. It was a very interesting game but one you’re thrilled to be on the right side of.”
– Morgan Klimchuk should be suspended for his late and needless hit in this game, although the length of that suspension is difficult to judge. My best guess is two games, but an announcement should be forthcoming on Thursday.
– Wednesday’s lines: