Pavel Gogolev is making quite the name for himself after just 10 AHL games this season.
A third consecutive game-winner earned him first star honours, but just as important in this third-straight Marlies victory was the stellar play of Joseph Woll, who again brought his A-game. This overtime win marked just the second time this season that Toronto has won three straight games.
The opening frame was characterized by plenty of intensity — an indication of the dislike between the two clubs, which wasn’t helped by more dubious officiating.
Tempers flared as early as the seventh minute, when Tyler Gaudet and Yannick Veilleux dropped the gloves. There is history with Veilleux this season — the Laval forward was suspended for a homophobic slur aimed at the Marlies bench and then for boarding Joseph Duszak (who was possibly concussed), forcing the defenseman out of the lineup.
The only goal of the period was a power-play tally that owed much to the extra effort from Steffan Noesen, who fought off his man to keep the puck in the zone at the offensive blue line. A three-way passing play started with Calle Rosen, who received the puck back above the hashmarks via Mikko Kokkonen and Colt Conrad. The Swedish defenseman made no mistake with a trademark wrister for his fifth goal of the year.
Rich Clune came close to making it a 2-0 lead, but his tip from a Kokkonen shot hit the post and stayed out. Joseph Woll turned aside all 10 shots he faced — including three from the slot — to keep the 1-0 lead intact.
Laval recorded just one shot on target in the middle 20 and scored on that one effort.
The clock was only showing 42 seconds when Rafaël Harvey-Pinard scored on a breakaway with a good move and backhand finish. Toronto was undone by one long stretch pass after turning the puck over cheaply amid a line change.
The game opened up at this point, with teams exchanging rushes amid a stretch of few stoppages in play.
After Toronto couldn’t score on their next man advantage, Tyler Gaudet was denied by Michael McNiven on a partial breakaway back at 5v5.
The Marlies‘ go-ahead goal owed much to Pavel Gogolev yet again. He gained the zone on the left wing, showing strength and poise to hold off two defenders before laying off a perfectly weighted pass to Calle Rosen joining the play.
It appeared as if Rosen was going to shoot at first glance, but his hard slap pass found Kalle Kossila down low by the side of the net. Kossila only needed to redirect the puck behind the pads of McNiven to give Toronto a 2-1 lead.
Noticeable throughout the game — especially in the middle frame — was Toronto’s renewed commitment to getting in passing lanes and blocking shots, which was a big reason why the Rocket only registered one shot on target in the second period.
Gogolev almost made it a 3-1 lead with an individual effort at the 18-minute mark. With a burst of speed, the Russian forward split two defensemen but wired his effort just off target.
Laval wasn’t able to test Woll on a late power play as the Marlies carried a 2-1 lead into the third period.
Toronto killed the penalty that carried over from the middle frame, with Woll called on to make one save of note.
On a power play of their own, the Marlies generated a few good chances — the best of those fell to Conrad — but they weren’t able to connect on the finishing touch.
At this point, the Marlies were the dominant team and put together some impressive shifts in the offensive zone. A drive to the net from the left wing by Noel Hoefenmayer looked promising, but his backhand effort slid agonizingly wide of the target.
Laval was finding it difficult to generate much of anything offensively until they created a few chances while shorthanded. The Marlies were too casual without the puck on the power play, but Woll made consecutive saves to turn aside Veilleux and Cale Fleury.
There were more chances for Toronto to grab an insurance marker, but the puck luck wasn’t on their side in the final frame. Kokkonen was denied from the high slot, a goal was waved off due to a high-stick, and Gogolev whistled a rebound attempt just wide on the second effort.
Laval opted not to pull their goaltender as early as they’ve done it in recent losses, but they started to push, with their defensemen aggressively activating into the attack in search of an equalizer.
The tying marker arrived with 86 seconds remaining, and it was a fortunate one for the Rocket — a shot took two wild deflections in front of Woll and the puck ended up on the tape of Jordan Weal’s stick for a tap-in.
It’s been a tough season for Joseph Woll, but he’s turned the corner in recent performances, and he was in no mood to take the loss in extra time. His huge save to rob Harvey-Pinard on a breakaway gave the Marlies life after they didn’t touch the puck in the first 50 seconds of overtime.
Cometh the hour, cometh Pavel Gogolev. After Kossila sent the rookie off to the races for a 2-on-1 break with Kokkonen to his left, Gogolev chose to shoot and finished off his own rebound for the game-winner.
A third straight win for Toronto against the Canadian Division champions. Hockey, eh.
Post Game Notes
– Joseph Woll stopped 27 of 29 shots for the victory. The goaltender has won three of his last four starts, posting a combined .931 save percentage in those games. I have previously been critical of his puck handling outside of the crease, but he’s looked much better in that aspect of his game in recent performances.
– It’s fair to say that Kalle Kossila is enjoying the game at the moment alongside Pavel Gogolev. The Finnish forward is enjoying a stretch of good health and peak form, extending his points streak to seven games (2-8-10) with a goal and an assist. That marks his third straight multi-point haul.
– Calle Rosen started the scoring and added an assist for his third multi-point haul of the year. That said, he’s taken a step back defensively this season from what I’ve seen compared to the championship campaign. At times, he needs to simplify his game.
– A small note on Colt Conrad, who has played in the last two games after being out for almost five weeks: His work ethic and attitude are exemplary, and I thought he was given a bit of a raw deal by Greg Moore last season. He recorded the primary assist on the first Toronto goal, which hopefully gives him a confidence boost and earns him some more playing time in the final week of the season.
– How about Pavel Gogolev, or should I say Pavel Goal-golev? This has been a fairly crappy season to cover the Marlies regarding the talent on show and the overall results, but I have thoroughly enjoyed watching his progression through just 10 games.
The rookie has 10 points in as many games after going pointless in his first three appearances. I cannot remember a rookie scoring the game-winning goal in three consecutive games — not even Connor Brown, who potted seven game-winners during the entirety of his impressive first AHL campaign.
– Toronto has three more games left in their season: Laval on Monday followed by games in Belleville on Wednesday and Thursday.
– Saturday’s lines: