“Clearly, with the way we set this game up today, we made the decision that resting our players was more important than anything that was going to happen in the game.”
After the Toronto Marlies clinched a playoff berth with a victory on Friday night, Sheldon Keefe chose to rest a plethora of regulars with his team playing its third game in three different cities in the span of three days.
Pierre Engvall, Dmytro Timashov, Michael Carcone, Mason Marchment, Adam Brooks, Josh Jooris, Andreas Borgman, Timothy Liljegren, Rasmus Sandin and Kasimir Kaskisuo were all given the night off, while Trey Bradley, Erik Brown and defenseman Alex Basso made their AHL debuts.
Toronto’s disheveled lineup was given the run-around early and inevitably fell behind with 7:31 on the clock. After another giveaway in the defensive zone, John Ramage’s intended pass banked in off Steve Oleksy to put Binghamton ahead.
The Marlies created very little offensively until the last third of the period when they weren’t able to turn a couple of scoring chances into a tying goal. Tanner MacMaster, Jeremy Bracco, Griffen Molino, and Hudson Elynuik were all turned aside by Cam Johnson, ensuring the Devils led 1-0 at the first intermission.
The officiating was suspect throughout the game and Toronto ended up on the bitter end of it in the second period: Nick Saracino pounced on the first power play of the game after McAdam made the first save and the rebound fell kindly for the Devils forward. At the nine-minute mark, Molino clearly took an elbow to the head — leaving blood on the ice — but no call was made and Jordan Subban subsequently talked himself into a penalty. Saracino then doubled up on the power play, giving the Devils a 3-0 lead after 31 minutes.
It took until the final seven minutes of the middle frame for the Marlies to register a shot on goal as Nicholas Baptiste combined with Colt Conrad, but the latter was turned aside by Johnson.
The Marlies then went back on the penalty kill for a third straight time, but they were able to stave that one off before finishing the period with a much-needed breakthrough. After Conrad was denied for a second time, Toronto got themselves on the board with 67 seconds remaining when Bracco chipped home a rebound on an initial shot from MacMaster to give Toronto some hope heading into the final 20 minutes.
That goal went to the Toronto legs in the first five minutes of the third period, but they were only able to generate one shot on goal in that time.
The Marlies’ penalty kill then went back to work for a fourth straight occasion and did an admirable job before game almost slipped away from Toronto at the nine-minute work. A lack of awareness from Subban (not for the first time this season) allowed a breakaway in behind him, but the overworked McAdam again came up big to keep the deficit at two.
Less than three minutes later, McAdam was rewarded for his efforts at the other end as the Marlies closed within one. Baptiste and Conrad combined for a second occasion, this time with Conrad snapping a shot by Johnson from the left circle for his second professional goal.
The miraculous then occurred with 5:07 remaining — after much hacking, slashing and tripping by the Devils, the Marlies were finally awarded a power play.
It took just seven seconds for the Marlies to capitalize and unsurprisingly it was the dynamic duo of Bracco and Chris Mueller who tied the game at 3-3, with the veteran tipping home a pass from the sophomore right winger.
A great drive to the net from debutant Erik Brown then drew another penalty, but a tired-looking Marlies team were unable to make it a two-for-two with the man advantage.
Overtime was needed to decide the game, and it was a mistake from Subban that led to Binghamton taking the extra point on offer. McAdam had already bailed out the defenseman on his first turnover that led to two grade-A scoring opportunities, but he could do nothing after a lazy poke check from Subban caused him to lose the handle on his stick.
Opting to retrieve his twig instead of taking the man, Subban allowed Colton White the time and space to take a pass from Blake Pietila and beat McAdam with a shot from between the hashmarks.
Post Game Notes
– Toronto finished the season series against Binghamton with a 3-2-1 record.
– The Marlies set a new record for combined overtimes and shootouts in a season with 25, beating the mark set in 2009-10. Their OT record is now 12-8 and in shootouts they are 1-4.
– Colt Conrad picked up his second goal in his fourth game. He’s noticeably confident in possession, has surprised opponents with his bursts of pace, and is building a nice case for himself to start in the AHL next season.
– Trey Bradley picked up an assist on his debut with the secondary helper on Conrad’s goal.
“I thought the new guys here that we were trying to give the opportunity to showed well,” said Keefe. “They moved their feet. For a lot of them, it is not only their first game but their first day with the team and they haven’t had practices or anything with our group. It was good to see from that standpoint.”
– Eamon McAdam turned aside 38 shots and deserved a better fate than an overtime loss.
– Chris Mueller hit a career-high in power play goals (16) and is now at 33 for the season.
– Jeremy Bracco opened the scoring for the Marlies and added an assist on the tying goal. He’s now at 77 points (21-56-77) and is tied for the league lead in scoring with Carter Verhaeghe.
– Semyon Der-Arguchintsev was reassigned to Newfoundland for playing time and picked up an assist on debut Friday evening. Last night (Saturday), SDA scored his professional goal while playing in the second-line center role.
– Saturday’s lines: