The shoe was on the other foot for the Toronto Marlies in Laval on Saturday.
After mounting third-period comebacks in the last few games to keep their (now 10-game) points streak alive, the Marlies squandered a two-goal advantage late in the game before letting a point slip in the shootout.
Despite the 6-5 loss, the Marlies extended their points streak to 7-0-3, remain unbeaten in regulation, and sit atop the North Division by a single point.
Laval got off to a bright start, creating a couple of scoring chances inside the opening minute. After getting shelled early in his previous game, it was understandable that Joseph Woll was a little shaky under intense pressure to start the night, but the rookie goaltender kept his composure with a couple of early saves.
Woll’s eight saves through the opening six minutes set the stage for Toronto to open the scoring on the power play at the 6:37 mark. After the Marlies won the faceoff, Egor Korshkov redirected the puck in front on a feed from Jeremy Bracco, a goal that looked similar to all of the Chris Muller-Bracco connections from last season.
The Marlies killed a penalty at the midway mark of the period while generating a couple of short-handed chances through Korshkov and Garrett Wilson.
Woll went on to stop 14 shots total in the first period as the Marlies were a little fortunate to hold a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Both teams exchanged power-play opportunities in the opening six minutes of the middle frame. In between times, Tanner MacMaster was inches away from doubling Toronto’s lead before Xavier Ouellet came even closer at the other end as his shot struck Woll’s right post.
The Marlies then opened up a two-goal lead thanks to the effort of Tanner MacMaster. Laval allowed the Marlies forward to traverse all three zones too easily, but the left winger took full advantage, teeing up Rasmus Sandin waiting down low in the right circle. Sandin’s one-time finish gave Charlie Lindgren no chance.
Toronto then collapsed late in the period as Laval scored twice in under two minutes. A failure to clear their zone after a spell of offensive-zone pressure by Laval cost the Marlies as Joe Cox beat Woll with an excellent tip in front on Noah Juulsen’s initial shot.
Under two minutes later, an errant pass through the neutral zone followed by some sloppy defensive play allowed Dale Weise to escape behind the Toronto defense, where he beat Woll on his glove side to tie the game up at 2-2 through 40 minutes.
The Marlies were out-shot 33-17 after two periods of play, but a bright start to the final frame of regulation saw Toronto restore their two-goal advantage.
After early chances for Pierre Engvall and Kenny Agostino went begging, the hard-working Darren Archibald created a goal basically out of nothing. He was key in clearing the defensive zone before chasing puck down all the way to below Laval’s goal line, where his efforts forced a turnover before he finished off a setup from Garrett Wilson.
The Marlies doubled up before just before the eight-minute mark when a wonderful outlet pass from Nic Petan from just outside his own blue line found Bracco in stride down the right wing. Not necessarily known for his finishing prowess, Bracco netted his second in as many games with a confidence level we hadn’t seen since last season.
The Rocket struck back three minutes later after hemming the Marlies inside their own zone for the better part of two minutes. While the Marlies were able to get a partial change in, missed assignments allowed Lukas Vejdemo to get in behind the defense and tip home Weise’s pin-point pass.
The game continued to see-saw as the Rocket hit back just two minutes later. There was a little bit of good fortune to this power-play marker, but if you don’t shoot, you can’t score — Pontus Aberg’s shot took wicked deflections off Karl Alzner and Ouellet before the puck found its way behind Lindgren to put Toronto up 5-3.
The Marlies held that two-goal lead up until the final four minutes of the game when their penalty kill ultimately let them down.
Frustratingly, both goals came just as the two penalties were about to expire. Charles Hudon scored both, with the latter officially recorded as an even-strength marker just as Korshkov stepped out of the box, with the Rocket also having pulled their goalie.
Woll turned aside 44 shots to ensure the game went to overtime, where he posted another three in the extra frame to force a shootout. Toronto had opportunities to claim the extra point in overtime, with Kenny Agostino unable to finish on the best of the scoring chances.
The Marlies didn’t convert on their three attempts in the shootout, meaning the lone tally from Alex Belize secured a valuable extra point in what will be a key division rivalry this season.
Post Game Notes
– The Marlies were outshot 53-26, with Joseph Woll overworked at times, especially during the 19-shot second period. However, Sheldon Keefe wasn’t too down on the team’s performance in a back-to-back situation with an afternoon start and travel in between. The head coach noted the team gave up 50+ shots but allowed fewer scoring chances than the night before in Belleville.
“We knew this was going to be a tough game for us to play today,” said Keefe. “It was a quick turnaround here playing a team that I fully expected would be the toughest opponent that we’ve played to date. We knew offense is hard to come by and they shoot the puck a lot, spend a lot of time in your offensive zone, forecheck, and all of those things. I liked that we were able to play with the lead and do a lot of things to generate enough offense, and we were good on special teams up until the third there when we weren’t. All of the things we wanted to do well, we did, but we know we have to be better to compete on a regular basis.”
– Egor Korshkov scored his fourth power-play marker and his sixth goal of the year. An area for improvement in his game is discipline; he has now taken five minor penalties in ten games, with three of those coming in the last five outings.
– Timothy Liljegren (0-2-2) and Rasmus Sandin (1-1-2) both recorded multi-point hauls. Jeremy Bracco also registered his second straight multi-point haul (1-1-2) after going four games without scoring.
– Tanner MacMaster extended his point streak (1-3-4) with an assist.
– Pontus Aberg has now scored in three straight games and has five points total over that span.
– Somewhat under the radar, Garrett Wilson is riding a three-game points streak (2-2-4) after recording an assist in this game. He’s far from the superstar veteran on this team, but he is a consistent performer who has been productive after a slow start impacted by injury.