After appearing to turn the corner heading into the Christmas break, the Toronto Marlies produced one of their most inept performances since their November struggles.
Whether it was a case of a holiday hangover or losing their momentum through the break, the Marlies were second best all over the ice against one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference in their 4-1 loss on Boxing Day.
“I thought we had a really good first period — it would’ve been nice to have a little bit more to show for it on the scoreboard — and then I can’t really explain what happened after that,” said Sheldon Keefe.
Kasimir Kaskisuo needed to be alert to make a pair of quick reaction saves in the opening seconds before the Marlies drew a double minor penalty shortly thereafter. The Marlies wasted their four minutes with the extra man and were indebted to Kaskisuo, who made another good save to deny Rudolfs Balcers on a shorthanded breakaway.
The period’s only goal came courtesy of a broken play at the eight-minute mark. Neither team could corral the bouncing puck just inside the Belleville blue line until Michael Carcone settled it down and seemed to catch Marcus Hogberg off guard to put the Marlies up 1-0.
The Marlies almost doubled their lead after killing their first penalty after Carl Grundstrom exited the box, but he missed the wide open net on a pass from Vincent LoVerde, who led the odd-man rush and put the pass right on his tape.
From the moment the puck dropped to begin the middle frame, the Marlies were second best and outworked in every department, and Belleville deservedly built themselves a lead.
The Marlies were unable to win a battle in front of their own net as goals from Erik Burgdoerfer and Logan Brown put the Marlies ahead at the midway point of the game.
The Senators wasted power play opportunities, including 25 seconds of a 5-on-3, and would have increased their advantage to two had Kaskisuo not pulled off a sharp save to turn aside a scoring chance odd-man break late in the frame.
The response never arrived from the Marlies in the final frame; it was a case of how many more Belleville would score after they netted back-to-back power-play goals inside ten minutes.
Christian Wolanin sniped home from the right circle less than three minutes into the final stanza and former Marlie Tobias Lindberg really should have scored his team’s fourth of the game after the resumption of play.
At the midway point of the period, Jordan Murray redirected a shot by Stefan Elliot past Kaskisuo to put the result beyond doubt, as Belleville improved their record when leading after two periods to 10-0-0 this season.
Post Game Notes
– The Marlies slipped to 7-8-2 on home ice (this game was held at Scotiabank Arena) and they’ve been outscored 58-42 in Toronto this season. With two games remaining in 2018 and a three-in-three to kick-off 2019, the Marlies need to get quickly get back on track to keep pace in the playoff hunt.
– Michael Carcone scored his first goal in a Marlies jersey and looked a real threat in the first period until fading the rest of the way, as the rest of the team did.
– Toronto lost their discipline in this outing, taking six penalties, including two for Carl Grundstrom. Special teams were not the difference between the two teams, but Toronto’s power play was out of sorts when it could have made a difference in the first period. The penalty kill wasn’t anywhere near the standard of late, and Belleville could have added to the two goals they scored on six opportunities.
“I don’t want to judge too much from this game here today,” said Keefe. “It’s a difficult game to play and prepare for. That said, their team was better than ours. Our power play had some good looks at good times. It probably wasn’t the ideal situation for us to get the four-minute power play so early when most of our power play guys hadn’t even touched the ice yet. But the other team didn’t seem to have an issue with it… You’ve got to be plus one or better on special teams if you’re going to win.”
– Wednesday’s lines: