You could label this a gutsy and hard-fought Toronto Marlies victory.
In truth, the two points were earned on the back of Michael Hutchinson’s heroics in the final 40 minutes of regulation.
In a reversal from Saturday’s victory, the Marlies lost the special teams battle and were wasteful in front of goal.
Toronto was fortunate not to fall behind just 15 seconds in when Joseph Duszak inexplicably threw the puck into the slot area from behind Hutchinson’s net, but the Marlies goaltender was alert to deny David Gust.
The veteran netminder had to make three sharp saves in total through the opening 90 seconds before the Marlies finally gained a foothold in the game. Bobby McMann and Curtis Douglas were both denied in tight as the fourth line worked to gather some momentum.
Spencer Smallman fired high and wide on a breakaway opportunity at the five-minute mark as the Wolves continued to waste scoring chances throughout the weekend series.
Toronto squandered consecutive power-play opportunities, barely gaining the zone let alone testing Chicago’s rookie netminder. In between the man advantages, Rich Clune and Jack Kopacka both came close to opening the scoring before Chicago broke the deadlock.
Marc Michaelis nearly scored a short-handed tally for the second game running on a breakaway before Chicago made hay on the man advantage. After the penalty-killing structure was undone almost single-handedly by Jamieson Rees, Maxim Letunov slid the puck past a sprawling Hutchinson.
Mikhail Abramov attempted to tie the game in the final minute of the period on an odd-man rush, but his effort was gloved and held onto by Eetu Makiniemi.
Facing a team playing its third game inside three days, it was reasonable to expect the Marlies to ramp up the pace and put Chicago under considerable pressure with the long change. Instead, the Wolves dominated a low-event middle frame.
The Marlies could barely exit their zone through the first four minutes and were indebted to Hutchinson for pulling off three good saves in that span.
Out of the blue, the Marlies tied the game on their first offensive excursion. McMann pulled the strings as he made a sweeping move from right to left around the back of the Chicago net, threw the puck toward the net on his backhand, Douglas parked himself in the crease, and the puck deflected in off his skate to draw Toronto level.
Hutchinson continued to shut the door, stopping all 10 shots he faced, three or four of which were excellent scoring chances. The Marlies’ struggling power play continued to misfire as two more opportunities with the extra man were squandered.
One-way traffic characterized the final 20 minutes of regulation. The Marlies generated one high danger scoring chance but were otherwise out-worked and out-played by a hungrier opponent.
Individual mistakes from Duszak and Hutchinson inside the opening two minutes really should have directly led to goals against. A misjudged foray outside of his crease was the only blemish in Hutchinson’s performance.
After C.J Smith conspired to wire a rebound opportunity across the crease when it appeared easier to score, the Wolves held a 10-0 shot advantage in the period. The incessant pressure was only relieved by a Chicago penalty.
Even the steady veteran Alex Biega wasn’t immune to Toronto’s overall lackadaisical performance. He took two penalties on the same play, sending Chicago to a four-minute power play.
There were a couple of close calls, but Hutchinson continued to keep the scoreline tied with six minutes remaining.
The last best chance to win the game in regulation fell to Andrew Poturalski. The Chicago forward has been in scintillating form so far this season with 14 points in 10 games, and all he had to do was convert on a cross-crease feed. It was basically a tap-in chance, but Hutchinson pulled off a miraculous pad stop to force overtime.
Chicago continued to push the pace in the extra frame and recorded the first four shots.
The best of those chances fell to Rees, but Hutchinson refused to be beaten for a second time.
Toronto didn’t record a shot until 18 seconds remaining in overtime when Alex Steeves was denied on a breakaway — not once but twice — and it appeared as though a shootout was going to be necessary.
Semyon Der-Arguchintsev had other ideas, driving to the center of the ice from the left side of the blue line and letting fly with a bullet of a wrist shot that cleanly beat Makiniemi with just two seconds remaining.
Not a bad way to score your second goal of the year.
— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) November 14, 2021
Post Game Notes
– A weekend sweep of Chicago has propelled Toronto to third in the North Division with a record of 7-4-0.
– Toronto was out-shot 38-27 overall and 30-15 after the first period, with Michael Hutchinson posting 37 saves for the victory. Outside of one blemish, this was an exceptional performance from the veteran netminder, who has yet to let the Marlies down through four stints with the club.
– The power play failed to convert on five attempts while the penalty kill allowed the lone goal against.
– Bobby McMann put in a good performance considering how poorly the team fared. His line was able to sustain offensive zone time and combined for Toronto’s only goal in regulation.
– After nine games this season without a goal, Semyon Der-Arguchintsev now has two in as many games. Hopefully, it will give the rookie confidence to shoot a little more, which in turn will make a more dynamic threat to defend against instead of leaning heavily on a pass-first tendency.
– Sunday’s lines:
Seney – SDA – Ho-Sang
Steeves – Abramov – Gogolev
Kopacka – Michaelis – Clune
McMann – Douglas – Gabriel
Král – Biega
Dahlström – Duszak
Hoefenmayer – Rubins