It was the third game in as many days for both teams, but a combination of poor puck management, shoddy defensive coverage, and less-than-stellar goaltending meant the Toronto Marlies were on the receiving end of another heavy defeat in front of their home fans at Coca-Cola Colesium.
Sunday’s 5-0 loss to Charlotte marks the second occasion Toronto has been shut out this season on home ice and drops them to 8-9-2 at home this year with a -20 goal differential.
“Their goaltender was outstanding today,” said Sheldon Keefe after the loss. “We had a breakaway, a 2-on-0 and a penalty shot in the first period and had nothing to show for it. When we gave up chances, they ended up in our net. As we’ve seen all year, our team is fragile and has not found its way out of that. We have to be able to be resilient and keep playing.”
The result might have been different if Toronto had taken advantage of one of their early opportunities in the opening six minutes. Frank Corrado and Josh Jooris both missed the target and Pierre Engvall couldn’t combine with Colin Greening on a 2-on-1 break.
It was somewhat telling that Charlotte pounced on the first mistake from the Marlies to take the lead on just their third shot of the game with eight minutes played. Michael Carcone turned the puck over just inside the offensive blue line and was beaten up the ice tracking back after Frank Corrado stepped up in the neutral zone, allowing Trevor Carrick to race in alone on goal and beat Kasimir Kaskisuo through the five hole.
It was one-way traffic from that moment on, and Andrew Poturalski doubled the Checkers’ lead by tapping home a rebound following a scramble in front five minutes later.
Only Dmytro Timashov getting hauled down on a breakaway halted the Checkers’ momentum, but his resulting penalty shot was a poor attempt, and Charlotte led 3-0 at the break thanks to a power-play marker from Julien Gauthier.
The Marlies opened and closed the middle frame with some encouraging play and enough scoring chances, but they simply had no finish, with Pierre Engvall in particular left scratching his head as to how he didn’t score in this game.
In-between times, there were some curious calls from the officials and the lone goal of the period came during some 4-on-4 action. Martin Necas fired home a one-time shot from low in the left circle as Toronto yet again made it too easy on Charlotte in the defensive zone, with a Marlie caught way late getting back into the play.
The Checkers could have easily run up the score in the third period, but they found the net just the once, with Toronto again proving to be their own worst enemy. A bad turnover by Stefan Leblanc allowed Zach Nastasiuk to escape down the left side, where his floated cross-crease pass was finished off by Morgan Geekie at the back post.
The Marlies finished the game with 34 recorded shots on Alex Nedeljkovic, but he wasn’t troubled enough when the result was still in the balance.
Post Game Notes
– While it ended on a sour note, Toronto took four points from a three-in-three weekend, which they would likely have taken beforehand, especially with Syracuse and Charlotte on the docket.
– Pierre Engvall was one of few Marlies to emerge with credit for his performance. He led all skaters with eight shots, hit the post once, and personally, I’d like to see him switched with Dmytro Timashov in the lineup onto a line with Chris Mueller and Jeremy Bracco.
“I thought he was a dominant player in that second period,” said Keefe.
– Kasimir Kaskisuo put in a solid performance on Friday, but he failed to back that up in today’s outing. He wasn’t given much help at times, but he was beaten easily on the first goal, was swimming around in his crease, and continually spilled out rebounds into dangerous areas. His form must be of considerable concern to the coaching staff at this point.
– Steve Oleksy didn’t dress after sitting out the third period against Syracuse. He took a puck to the face and the extent of his injury isn’t known at this time.
– Sunday’s lines: