The Toronto Marlies ended their three-game road trip on a high with a 3-1 win in Springfield on Saturday.
Against a team that was also struggling for results of late — Springfield had lost seven of eight heading into this game — the Marlies‘ success was built on a comprehensive edge in the special teams battle.
With just 1:09 on the clock, Toronto drew first blood after a shot from Calle Rosen ended up in a melee of players around the crease and fell kindly for Dmytro Timashov to sweep home.
Despite registering 15 shots on goal, the Marlies were unable to increase their advantage through 20 minutes, with their best opportunity resulting in no attempt at goal as Jeremy Bracco and Adam Brooks wasted a 2-on-1 look.
Jordan Subban ended up dropping the gloves with Paul Thompson after the Thunderbirds forward took a run at Andreas Borgman, with the Marlies diminutive defenseman acquitting himself well against a much larger opponent.
Toronto came out firing in the middle frame; had it not been for goaltender Samuel Montembeault, they could easily have built themselves a three-goal advantage.
The Springfield netminder robbed both Rosen and Timothy Liljegren with gloves saves, was fortunate Rasmus Sandin’s effort deflected just wide, and also turned aside Trevor Moore on a prime look from the slot.
Springfield then leveled the score at one apiece after Toronto turned the puck over inside their own zone. Chris Wideman had all the time in the world to line up a slap shot from the point before a redirect from Tomas Jurco gave Kasimir Kaskisuo no chance.
A giveaway from Rosen almost immediately cost Toronto upon the resumption of play, but the Thunderbirds weren’t able to capitalize on an odd-man rush.
With Andreas Borgman ruled out of the game (presumably an injury occurred on the dubious hit in the first period) and the Marlies playing their third game in four days, it took a while for Toronto find their legs again, but an excellent penalty kill seemed to give them a lift.
Some ill-discipline from Springfield coupled with dubious officiating then presented Toronto with a couple of 5-on-3 power plays that they took full advantage of late in the period. Jeremy Bracco batted home a feed from Moore before a nice tic-tac-toe play involving Timashov and Moore was finished off by Adam Brooks.
Michael Carcone almost made it a third straight power-play goal, but his wraparound attempt was denied by the excellent Samuel Montembeault and Toronto had to settle for a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes.
With nothing to lose, Springfield certainly “had a go” in the third period but rarely looked like mounting a comeback that would result in them taking anything from the game despite registering 15 shots on goal in the final 20.
Ryan Horvat fired high after losing his balance in the slot area just a minute in and Springfield didn’t fully test Toronto until the eight-minute mark.
A loose pass inside his own zone by Rosen allowed Matt Magene to let fly from the blue line, with Kaskisuo making the initial save and then doing incredibly well to deny a combination of Jake Horton and Sebastien Repo on rebound attempts. The puck then bounced kindly for Repo and what appeared to be a certain goal was denied by Rosen, who skated in behind Kaskisuo and made the save from his knees.
That’s as close as Springfield came to halving Toronto’s two-goal advantage as the Marlies coasted to a 3-1 victory to snap a three-game losing streak.
Post Game Notes
– With a secondary assist, Calle Rosen moved to the top of the AHL defenseman scoring charts with 40 points (6-34-40). Rosen led all skaters with six shots, his second highest single game total of the season.
– Jeremy Bracco’s goal — his 50th point of the season (15-35-50) in his 51st game — was his first game winner of the season and his fifth power play marker.
– Adam Brooks (1-1-2), Dmytro Timashov (1-1-2) and Trevor Moore (0-2-2) all recorded multi-point games
– Saturday’s lines: