Much of the post-game talk focused on this loss as a learning experience for a Toronto Marlies team guilty of letting its foot off of the gas.
The truth is that the club has yet to put together anything resembling a 60-minute effort for the current head coach.
The Laval Rocket accomplished in this game what Chicago Wolves could not over the most recent weekend back-to-back — namely, taking advantage of plentiful scoring chances and overpowering Toronto’s feeble special teams.
The Marlies relied heavily on superb goaltending to secure two wins against the Wolves. In this outing, Erik Källgren gave up one soft goal, but it was otherwise a solid performance until he was forced to leave the game due to injury.
In relief, Michael Hutchinson put on the kind of showing that reminds us why he is in the AHL right now (and why it’s Joseph Woll currently receiving a look in the NHL).
Toronto blew a 5-1 lead in a little over 22 minutes. The Marlies still held a three-goal advantage with just over 14 minutes remaining in regulation, but they allowed a power-play goal, a short-handed tally, gave Cole Caufield acres of space to score at four-on-four, and failed to capitalize on four power-play opportunities.
More than a third of Laval’s shots in regulation were high-danger scoring chances. That’s no recipe for success, and one of the league’s most potent offensive teams made the Marlies suffer.
Laval recorded the first five shots of the game, although Erik Källgren was only tested on one of those attempts. Toronto then turned the tables on the Rocket with five consecutive shots on goal of their own, the fifth of which opened the scoring.
It was a tale of perseverance, with Joseph Duszak and Marc Michaelis swarming the net and Brett Seney providing the finish in tight.
The Marlies doubled the lead just before the 11-minute mark. It was more of the same from Toronto, with Michaelis yet again unlucky to hit the crossbar, but he wasn’t easily deterred. Seney kept the play alive before Michaelis delivered a perfect feed for Josh Ho-Sang to rip home with a one-time shot.
Laval was far from disheartened despite falling a pair of goals behind and finished the period strongly. They were also gifted a foothold in the game by Källgren.
The Swedish netminder ventured from his net when he should have stayed firm. Flustered by the oncoming attack, Källgren made a mess of an attempted clearance, resulting in the simplest of tap-ins for Rafaël Harvey-Pinard.
The middle frame was not short on drama. Källgren’s evening ended five minutes into the frame after significant contact made by Kevin Roy. There was no attempt by the Laval forward to avoid the goaltender, who had to be helped off the ice and down the tunnel.
The officials decided the play was somehow not worthy of a penalty, but the Marlies channeled their emotions in the right way by netting a third goal. From behind the Laval net, Michaelis found Seney in the slot for his second of the game.
The Marlies’ extended their lead to four with two goals just 42 seconds apart — a pair of tap-ins for Joey Anderson and Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, who both seized on rebound opportunities in the slot.
Kevin Poulin replaced Michael McNiven between the pipes at that point with Laval trailing 5-1, but the visitors didn’t stop playing and out-shot Toronto 5-1 in the remaining six minutes of the period. They were rewarded with a goal from Gabriel Bourque on a shift in which the Marlies were out-worked by a more desperate team.
One of the most penalized teams in the AHL so far this season, the Marlies took a pair of penalties inside the first five minutes of the third period to place them firmly on the backfoot. A power-play tally for Louie Belpedio brought the Rocket within two, giving Montreal’s AHL affiliate real belief they could take something from the game.
The Marlies’ faltering power play then conspired to gift Lukas Vejdemo a short-handed tally at the eight-minute mark. Arguably, Hutchinson should have gotten a piece of the top-shelf finish as well as the power-play goal beforehand, but the Marlies goaltender wasn’t exactly receiving much in the way of help, either.
Der-Arguchintsev negated a fourth Toronto power play before Laval tied the game during four-on-four action. It was a case of “after you” as Cole Caufield escaped down the right-wing unimpeded and wired a shot from the top of the circle past Hutchinson.
The Marlies were left to hang on for a point through regulation after blowing a huge lead.
There were plenty of opportunities to finish the game in the extra frame. Neither team was clinical in front of the net when it mattered.
Jean-Sébastien Dea was twice denied by Hutchinson while Seney was twice robbed by Poulin and Der-Arguchintsev hit the crossbar.
Laval prevailed 3-2 in a nine-round shootout to secure the extra point.
Post Game Notes
– “I didn’t address the team after the game,” said Greg Moore. “I think it’s assumed that everyone is not happy with losing this one. We’ll come here tomorrow and we’ll address exactly where we are at and kind of digest the game… We really just leaked too much time and space for them as the game went on. Our special teams, especially our power play, put us in a tough spot. We have a lot of guys that think they’re individuals on the power play… AJ [MacLean] is doing a great job of delivering the message, but we have a bunch of guys who aren’t listening.”
– Semyon Der-Arguchintsev scored for the third consecutive game. This was also his first multi-point haul this season thanks to his secondary assist on Joey Anderson‘s goal.
– Marc Michaelis enjoyed his most effective game this season offensively with three assists, all of which were primary helpers.
– A three-point game for Brett Seney included two goals, marking the third time in 12 games this season that he’s bagged a pair and bringing his goal total up to seven on the season.
– Wednesday’s lines:
Seney – SDA – Anderson
Gogolev – Abramov – Steeves
Clune – Michealis – Ho-Sang
McMann – Douglas – Gabriel
Král – Biega
Rubins – Duszak
Hoefenmayer – Dahlström