It was yet another frustrating loss at home for the Toronto Marlies, who really should have taken at least a point from their divisional matchup against Rochester on Saturday.
A lack of finish in the opening 20 minutes, a second-period no show, and a lack of discipline led to the Marlies‘ eventual demise in the second leg of the weekend home-and-home versus the North Division leaders.
The shot clock favoured Rochester 6-2 through the opening eight minutes, but the Marlies could have been ahead by a pair. Pierre Engvall couldn’t finish in tight after a surging rush down the rush by Calle Rose, and the latter was unable to bulge the twine after a swift give-and-go ended with a scoring chance in the slot.
Further chances for Carl Grundstrom, Adam Brooks and Chris Mueller went begging before — inevitably — Rochester struck first against the run of play. The Amerks netted with 13 seconds left on the first man advantage of the game through C.J. Smith.
Back at 5v5, Toronto again dominated the run of play, but the frustration was palpable as Michael Carcone’s booming shot rang off the crossbar and away to safety.
“Take away the first five minutes of the period and I thought it was as good of a first period as we’ve had in a long time — maybe all season — offensively,” said Sheldon Keefe after the game.
Despite trailing 1-0 at the intermission, the Marlies had plenty of reason to feel good about their game, but they never showed up for the middle frame. Rochester only found the net once during the second period, but they really should have put the game out of reach in the middle 20.
During 4-on-4 action, the Marlies left Smith alone in the left circle, where he put the Amerks ahead 2-0 with 25 minutes played.
Goaltender Michael Garteig faced a barrage of rubber and made a pair of spectacular pad saves to deny Smith and Justin Bailey to keep the Marlies in the game. Garteig also robbed Victor Olofsson on a breakaway opportunity as part of a 14-save second period.
The Marlies wasted a pair of power plays — Chris Mueller labeled it “embarrassing” after the game — and found themselves with a hill to climb heading into the final frame.
There was cause for hope inside three minutes of the final frame for the Marlies — Trevor Moore scored from a tight angle after Dmytro Timashov cut off an intended clearance by Matt Tennyson.
While the Marlies were immediately onto the PK afterward, they nearly tied the game when Moore and Brooks almost combined for a shorthanded marker.
However, the energy was quickly zapped out of the team and the building shortly afterward following a selfish, reckless play from Michael Carcone. Angry after a coming together with Jack Dougherty, Carcone cross-checked the Amerks defenseman during a TV timeout, earning him a five-minute major and a game misconduct.
“Our team was so dejected after that penalty, we may as well have just packed our stuff up and went home,” said Keefe after the game.
The moment of madness — likely to earn Carcone a lengthy suspension — allowed Rochester to close out the game with two power play goals. Smith then put the final nail in the coffin with an empty netter for his hat-trick as the Amerks left Toronto with a 5-1 victory.
Post Game Notes
– This was the eighth time in 21 home games this season that the Marlies have given up five or more goals. Their record at the Coca-Cola Coliseum slips to 9-10-2.
– The Marlies are clinging onto fourth place in the division, but just five points separate fourth from eighth place in the North.
– Trevor Moore’s goal was his 19th of the season in 30 games; he’s scoring on 20% of his shots in the AHL this season.
– Goaltender Michael Garteig‘s statistics took a beating in just his second start for the Marlies, but the loss can in no way be pinned on the B.C native, who posted 14 saves in the middle frame to keep Toronto in the game.
– Michael Carcone is almost certainly going to receive additional supplemental discipline from the league for his actions in the third period. Sheldon Keefe didn’t mince words after the game:
“Carcone [took] a very egregious penalty that puts himself ahead of the team. Things [went] real bad for the team after that. That’s a really good opportunity for that player to recognize just how selfish he was in that point in time.”
– Saturday’s lines: