“I think we really looked to our veteran players and our power play, and they really stepped up when we needed them.”
- Goaltender Joseph Woll
Trailing 2-0 after 40 minutes and staring down the prospect of their sixth loss in seven games, the Toronto Marlies mounted a third-period comeback to snatch two points out of the grasp of the Texas Stars on Monday night.
It was another poor start by the Marlies, who found themselves behind inside the four minutes. From behind the goal line, Nicholas Caamano sent a speculative shot toward the net and the puck somehow banked in off of the back of Joseph Woll — a goal the rookie wanted back, and he never really settled in until the third period.
The Marlies responded the right way and were out-shooting Texas 12-5 at one point, but they were unable to find a way past Jake Oettinger, who pulled off saves of note on Scott Pooley and Kenny Agostino.
The Stars were presented with the first power-play of the game and proceeded to dominate the remainder of the period, registering eight shots unanswered, but they had to settle for a 1-0 lead through 20 minutes.
Oettinger continued to be a thorn in the side of the Marlies, turning aside Pooley and Korshkov inside the first three minutes of the second period.
60 seconds later, an excellent backcheck and defensive play by Mac Hollowell denied Caamano a second goal on what looked like a clear breakaway initially.
Both teams were unable to capitalize with a power-play apiece before Toronto lost the services of Korshkov after this incident.
Here's a clip of Egor Korshkov blocking a shot at 8:22 which hits him on the forearm, he then engages a bit with the opponent and heads straight to the bench at 8:18. pic.twitter.com/oF6sOKvXrg
— Wipe the slate, clear the canvas part 2 (@RodBlanchard) March 3, 2020
There was blood on the bench and on the Russian forward’s arm as the game was halted to allow him to skate directly out of the rink to receive urgent medical attention.
Matt Read came the closest to tying the game at 1-1 on a nice play by Tyler Gaudet behind the goal before Toronto gave up a second goal. Riley Tufte was denied on a wraparound attempt at one side of the net before regaining possession and finishing on Woll’s left side, with too many Toronto defenders watching instead of engaging.
Immediately from the restart, Agostino drove toward net, and with Toronto on a power-play that carried over from the middle frame, he drew another penalty, setting up a two-man advantage for 20 seconds followed by another hundred seconds of 5-on-4.
The opportunity went to waste as Toronto leaned heavily on Woll to keep them in the game, including a good glove save to deny Joel Kiviranta on an odd-man rush.
Wearing #32 (the first time that number has been worn since Josh Leivo, I believe), Korshkov returned to the game and set about making an immediate impact as he threw his body around and created a scoring chance on his first shift.
Who knows whether his miraculous recovery played its part in inspiring the Marlies, but they needed some puck luck and one goal to get them pointed in the right direction.
It arrived thanks to a shot by Hudson Elynuik that was blocked in front, with Garrett Wilson the first to respond as he chipped the puck into the net.
With Toronto now beginning to pick up a head of steam, it was important that Woll shut the door the rest of the way and he did just that with another save on Caamano as he crashed hard to the net.
Just 60 seconds later, at the midway mark of the period, a blast from Mac Hollowell at the point found its way into the net to tie the game at 2-2, but it was immediately waved off for goaltender interference (which isn’t reviewable in the AHL). Replays indicated it was a very soft call.
The Marlies were then forced to kill a penalty, which they did successfully before earning a power-play of their own with a little over six minutes remaining.
Finally, the Marlies struck with the man advantage. Matt Lorito combined with Agostino before Pontus Aberg finished alone at the back-door for a tap-in.
With Marlies now in control of the momentum, a nasty slash by L’Esperance put them back on the man advantage, and it took just 40 seconds for Toronto to capitalize.
Joseph Duszak, after striking the iron on his first shot from the point, produced a rebound with his second attempt that a diving Agostino was able to prod home at full stretch to give Toronto a 3-2 lead with 2:23 remaining.
After clawing way back from the jaws of defeat, there was no way the Marlies were going to give this one up. They did have to rely on Woll, who redeemed himself for the first-period softie with a couple of outstanding saves in the dying seconds while under intense pressure.
If ever there was a character win, this was it. Now the Marlies have to repeat the feat in Belleville on Wednesday evening.
Post Game Notes
– Veteran players stepped up to the plate in this game for the Marlies, including Kenny Agostino. He led all skaters with six shots and recorded two points (1-1-2), including the game-winner. It was his 25th goal of the season, setting a new single-season career-high in goals for the left-winger.
– Matt Lorito registered his first points in a Marlies uniform with a pair of secondary power-play assists.
– Pontus Aberg hit the 20-goal mark with the tying marker on the power-play.
– Garrett Wilson was handed fourth-line duties and he continued to hit anything that moved to create space for his linemates, Scott Pooley and Hudson Elynuik. After going eight games without a goal, his timing couldn’t have been better on his ninth of the season.
– Joey Duszak has been turning my head for a while now. This was just another fantastic performance from the rookie, who continues to quarterback the power play. The NY native has recorded a point in 10 of his last 13 games and registered a pair of assists in this game. His 17 points (3-14-17) in 20 games places him 16th amongst rookie defensemen in scoring, with all those above him having played 20-30+ more games.
– Joseph Woll gave up an awful first goal, but he came up huge when the team needed him after that, posting 28 saves for the victory. With Kasimir Kaskisuo still out injured, the Marlies are going to rely heavily on him to keep them in the playoff race.
– Monday’s lines: