Substance over style was the order of the day as the Toronto Marlies ground out a second straight victory against the Laval Rocket.
With their third consecutive shutout of Laval, the Marlies now lead the season series with a 4-2-1 record.
Unlike Friday’s game, the Marlies weren’t able to control the game for sustained stretches, instead playing a solid defensive game after taking an early lead.
The power play once more came through for the Marlies this weekend when Sam Gagner found the net with a wired slap shot from the top of the left circle just 2:20 into the game.
Kasimir Kaskisuo only needed to be steady in the first period — turning aside eight shots, mostly from distance — but he really stepped up with some important saves in the middle frame.
Less than five minutes in, with Toronto caught flatfooted in the neutral zone, Alex Belzile was sent in alone, but Kaskisuo stood firm despite the forward crashing into him.
A pair of power plays for Laval in the span of three minutes further tested Kaskisuo as he turned aside Byron Froese (twice), Daniel Audette, and robbed the latter again on the second penalty kill with a fantastic reaction save on a redirect attempt in tight.
Toronto really struggled to generate anything offensively in the middle frame until the final two minutes of play, when Pierre Engvall was be denied on a breakaway and Adam Brooks was similarly frustrated on a tipped effort following a cross-crease feed from Trevor Moore.
The Marlies finished the period with the man advantage, where LaCouvee somehow stonewalled Chris Mueller, who appeared certain to score on a backdoor play created by Moore.
The Marlies did an excellent job of keeping Laval to the perimeter in the defensive zone in the final 20 minutes while rarely threatening to extend their slim lead.
On a rare offensive foray at the seven-minute mark, Gabriel Gagner, Calle Rosen, and Trevor Moore all came close to doubling the lead, but the modus operandi appeared to be staying solid defensively and keeping numbers behind the puck with a limited appetite for risk-taking.
Kaskisuo was stoic between pipes in turning aside 12 shots in the final 20 minutes before the two points were secured by a pair of last-minute empty net goals.
Moore converted on a tic-tac-toe play that was created by a calm and collected piece of defensive play from Colin Greening that allowed Toronto to exit the zone. Mueller followed that up by finding the net from distance to secure a 3-0 victory and a weekend sweep for the Marlies.
Post Game Notes
– Trevor Moore recorded his 20th goal and 10th assist of the season to give him 30 points in 36 games on the season.
– A pair of assists for Calle Rosen takes him to 29 for the season (ranked ninth amongst all skaters). The defenseman has accrued eight points (1-7-8) in his last seven outings during a dominant run of form.
– Kasimir Kaskisuo posted 33 saves for his second shutout of the season, probably his best performance to date. Toronto did a great job of keeping Laval to the perimeter and limiting traffic in front of the crease for the most part, but Kaskisuo looked in control throughout and came up with a handful of excellent stops when needed.
“I think [Hutchinson’s] presence around here has really helped Kaskisuo settle in,” said Sheldon Keefe. “Jon Elkin is working extensively with Kas and trying to help him find his game and find some consistency. We’ve really like the way he’s responded here of late. He was really good today. I thought we protected him quite well, but nothing went in that shouldn’t have, and any time they really threatened, he was there tracking it and in position.”
– Sam Gagner’s game-winner was his 11th goal on the year and his second power-play marker in four games.
The latest injury news:
- Mason Marchment has a broken collarbone and is out long-term.
- Michael Carcone has been skating in his recovery and has taken part in one practice as he works his way back from a concussion.
- Timothy Liljegren is also skating but isn’t likely to feature in the next game on Tuesday.
- Rasmus Sandin remains the closest to a return and may feature in the next game against Belleville.
– Saturday’s lines: