The Toronto Marlies’ winning streak came to a halt on the road on Saturday as they were made to pay for missed assignments, poor management of the puck at both ends of the ice, and a failure to really test a rookie goaltender who has struggled early in his North American pro career.
Whether it was a little overconfidence/complacency after the perfect start to the season or a case of playing down to their opponent, the Marlies were far too casual in their own zone and could easily have been in an even bigger hole after 40 minutes.
The Devils came out with some jump to start the game and were clearly the superior team, although they were helped by Toronto’s lackadaisical play with the puck inside their own zone.
It was little surprise when the Devils opened the scoring inside seven minutes on the power play. A failure to clear the zone followed by two missed assignments made it too easy for the Devils, with the wide-open Ben Street setting up Chris Connor, who was under no real pressure from the two Toronto defenders in the area.
The Marlies had recorded just one shot on net before finally getting their footing around the midway point of the period.
Matt Read was the catalyst — his surge down the right wing created chances for both Hudson Elynuik and Egor Korshkov, but both were turned aside, and so was Kristians Rubins on a broken play as the Marlies finally put Binghamton under some sustained pressure.
That line threatened again with seven minutes remaining when Elynuik sent Read away down the right side, but the rebound off the pad from the resulting shot evaded all Marlie attackers.
Toronto had Kasimir Kaskisuo to thank for not finding themselves in a bigger hole through 20 minutes; he pulled off two huge saves inside the final six minutes, robbing Brandon Baddock — who was the beneficiary of terrible Marles line change — and then Joey Anderson after Toronto turned the puck over in their own zone.
With the words of Sheldon Keefe ringing in their ears, the Marlies came out flying for the first eight minutes or so of the second period and really took over the game. Despite hemming Binghamton inside their own zone for over 60 seconds, there was no end product forthcoming as Toronto failed to get to the dangerous areas or get shots through from the point.
That relentless pressure did result in a Marles power play, but the Toronto special teams were out of sync throughout the game.
The theme from the first period carried over after a Marlies turnover in the Binghamton zone resulted in a quick transition play, leading to the 2-0 goal just before the half-way point of the game. Nathan Bastian, afforded space in the circle, had his shot deflect up into the air and Michael McLeod reacted first, leaping up to catch the puck and drop it at his feet before finishing the play off.
Seney and Bastian both should have extended the Binghamton lead in the final five minutes of the middle frame, but Kaskisuo was again keeping his team within reach. At the other end, Darren Archibald struck the crossbar on a 3-on-1 break for Toronto.
Much in the way the Maple Leafs‘ fourth line has been a catalyst this season, the Marlies’ unit of Archibald-MacMaster-O’Brien really gave the team a lift with an outstanding third-period display that sparked a third-period Toronto comeback.
it wouldn’t have been possible, though, if not for Kaskisuo shutting down Bastian during a 2-on-1 rush on yet another transition play starting in the Binghamton zone.
30 seconds after Kaskisuo’s big save, the Devils carelessly iced the puck and the Marlies took advantage. It was notable that Keefe opted to send out the fourth line for a offensive-zone faceoff, and it proved a masterstroke.
Rubins played no small part as he used his frame and reach to good effect to deny a zone exit at the right point. Archibald showed strength on the puck to see off two defenders, driving across the zone before wiring a low shot back across Gilles Senn from the left circle to halve the deficit.
Tanner MacMaster was the unlikely architect of the tying goal just before the seven-minute mark. He corralled possession in the far left corner in the Devils zone before working his way back toward the point, and with nothing else on, made the percentage play to find Rubins with space at the blue line. Rubins’ shot narrowly missed the target, with O’Brien on hand to pick up the loose puck and somehow sneak a shot between the rookie goaltender and his near post from an acute angle.
After trailing for the majority of the game, Toronto now looked the most likely to take the win in regulation. A second power play consisted of Bracco looking for redirects in front or the back door tap-in for Korshkov, but there were only near misses and no end product.
Pontus Aberg wasn’t at his best in this game, but he flashed his puck skills and ofund Pierre Engvall, who couldn’t muster a finish to match the set-up.
Overtime was a similar story: Engvall and Tyler Gaudet both had good looks to win the game before the Devils grabbed the extra point.
It was all too easy for Marian Studenic, who carried speed on a rush down the right side after circling his own net. Read was out-gunned by the forward’s speed and drive to the net, while Teemu Kivihalme failed to react quickly, with Kaskisuo unable to bail his teammates out this time.
Post Game Notes
– The winning streak might be over, but the point streak continues. That will be firmly tested by a trip to Syracuse on Sunday night.
– The Marlies failed to get inside the Devils defense and resorted to taking a high volume of shots from low danger areas. They recorded only eight shots below the hashmarks and just two between the dots as Gilles Senn was let off too easy for a goaltender who appeared uncertain in the net.
– Sheldon Keefe mixed up the defensive pairings but reverted to the previous partnerships in the third period, including reuniting Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren.
“We’re just sorting out who is going to play with who and what are the right pairings,” said Sheldon Keefe. “I thought our defense had a tough night tonight overall. We gave up the puck a lot on our half of the ice, with far too many chances against as a result… The speed and skill that their team has, they’ve got some lines that we thought would cause some real problems for us today and they did. We’ve got to clean all of those things up. When you can’t get out of your zone clean, it makes it tough on you.”
– Kristians Rubins registered his first points of the season with two assists.
– Zach O’Brien also recorded his first points with a goal and an assist, while Tanner MacMaster’s helper on the tying goal was his first assist of the season.
– Kasimir Kaskisuo might feel he should have done more on the second goal, but he was left hung out to dry on numerous occasions and a .889 save percentage plus the loss wasn’t what he deserved for his performance.
– Jeremy Bracco is without a point or shot through the last three games and played on the periphery all game. The only time he appeared at all dangerous was on the power play. It’s early in the season, but his form is cause for concern given he’s such an important part of the offense.
– Kalle Kossila remains out due to injury as well as Adam Brooks, who did not make the trip this weekend.
– Saturday’s lines: