The Toronto Marlies were shut out but managed to grab a loser point in a 1-0 overtime loss on the road in Syracuse on Friday night.
Remarkably, this was the third time this season that the Toronto Marlies have gone to OT without a goal scored (they won the previous two contests against Belleville and Laval).
Syracuse held the edge in possession and offensive zone time in the opening frame, but Toronto did a good job of keeping the Crunch to the perimeter for the most part.
Michael Hutchinson gave up very few rebounds in making 14 saves and looked as composed as he’s ever been this season (his best stop was a glove save to deny Alex Barre-Boulet with three minutes left in the period). Those in front of him blocked a plethora of long-range shots, but Toronto needed to be a little more careful in possession against a team that is built for speed and capitalizes in transition.
Toronto created very little at even strength — the best opportunity was created off the rush by Adam Brooks and Trevor Moore, but Calle Rosen fired wide as a trailing man on the play.
The Marlies had one power play to work with, where Brooks and Moore both tested Eddie Pasquale but were unable to solve the Syracuse netminder.
The middle frame was a disjointed penalty fest. Toronto failed to take advantage of three power plays but saw off two for Syracuse as the penalty kills dominated the special teams battle.
The Marlies best chance of the period came while shorthanded as Colin Greening and Pierre Engvall combined to good effect, but the latter was unable to finish it off.
The Crunch were limited to five shots through the second period, with Boris Katchouk forcing a good double-save from Michael Hutchinson on their best scoring chance.
The final frame saw another three penalties called in nine minutes, but the penalty killing continued to win out and neither team could break the deadlock.
Toronto played their best hockey of the game in the third period and could easily have won in regulation in the final eight minutes.
The Moore-Brooks-Bracco line, in particular, were beginning to generate quality scoring chances. In one stretch of play, they were followed up by an excellent shift from the fourth line to hem the Crunch inside their own zone for about two minutes straight.
Neither Griffen Molino in tight or a rasping drive from Rasmus Sandin got by Pasquale, but the Marlies had one last chance to win the game inside the final 60 seconds.
Brooks found Michael Carcone just above the blue paint as Toronto carved the Crunch open, but the winger was denied by the right pad of Pasquale to ensure a point for each team.
Carcone would live to regret his miss in overtime as he made to look foolish on the eventual game-winner. Talented rookie Barre-Boulet beat Carcone on his inside at the goal line and proceed to cut across goal, out-waiting Hutchinson before firing back against the grain and scoring far post.
A point against the team with the best home record in the North Division isn’t a bad result, but Sheldon Keefe will be hoping for a more complete effort from his group when the two teams meet again on Saturday evening.
Post Game Notes
– This was the third occasion that Toronto has been shutout this season, but Toronto extended their points streak to four games (3-0-1).
– Michael Hutchinson posted 29 saves and deserved better fortunes for his performance.
“Hutchy held us in all game,” said Sheldon Keefe. “That was as locked in and as solid as we’ve seen him.”
– Friday’s lines: