The Cleveland Monsters have outplayed the Toronto Marlies in the two previous contests between the clubs this year, but the Marlies managed to snag three points from a pair of extra-time games.
In the third meeting of the season series, the Monsters took away a deserved two points in regulation as the Marlies conceded five or more goals for the seventh time this season.
The opening frame featured the Marlies‘ best 20 minutes of the game. However, they were undone by a combination of less-than-stellar goaltending, poor defensive coverage, and a lack of finish in front of goal.
Semyon Der-Arguchintsev and Alex Steeves tested goaltender Daniil Tarasov, but no player in blue crashed the net on either occasion to pick up the second opportunities available.
The Monsters should have opened the scoring inside three minutes on a breakaway for Trey Fix-Wolansky, but he lacked composure when in alone, failing to fully test Hutchinson.
The Marlies generated two more chances of note, both falling to Jack Kopacka, who first found Tarasov’s glove from close range from the slot. On a lone breakaway at the nine-minute mark, the Marlies left winger attempted a five-hole finish that wasn’t well executed.
The Marlies wasted the lone power play of the period before falling behind 2-0 after Cleveland struck twice inside the final four minutes.
After an odd-angle shot from Kevin Stenlund turned into a pass for Brett Gallant on the doorstep, Gallant flicked the puck toward the net and his effort trickled through Hutchinson to open the scoring.
The second goal came off a quick transition through three zones starting behind the Cleveland net. The Marlies lost three individual battles in the defensive zone, with Dylan Sikura brushing off the attention of Joseph Duszak before finishing off a pass from Stenlund.
Both teams wasted fantastic chances in the early stages of the middle frame. Joey Anderson picked up a turnover but wired his effort wide of the target from the slot, while Carson Meyer was wasteful at the other end on his breakaway opportunity, firing straight at Hutchinson.
The game took a turn when Cleveland strangely decided to fire up some physical antics in a game they were largely controlling. After a string of penalties led to a 4-on-3 power play, the Marlies made use of the extra space. Anderson won a battle in front for possession and swept the puck past Tarasov to halve the deficit.
Things may have turned out differently if Justin Scott didn’t waste another breakaway chance for the Marlies. Kurtis Gabriel and Brett Seney were also wasteful in front of goal to end the period, but in truth, the Marlies were lucky not to fall further behind. They narrowly survived a video review, with the puck barely escaping the goal line after hitting the post and Hutchinson’s left pad.
The game was over as a contest within three minutes of the final frame.
With Toronto unable to take advantage of another power play, Cleveland scored two seconds after the penalty expired. Liam Foudy breezed through all three zones as if he was out for a Sunday skate before cutting left to right across the crease and chipping the puck past Hutchinson.
A speculative effort from Steeves somehow hit the crossbar on a weird-looking play, but Cleveland didn’t let that faze them. A long-range shot from Jake Christiansen beat Hutchinson clean to make it a 4-1 scoreline with 13 minutes remaining.
Two minutes later, a visibly frustrated Fix-Wolansky finally got himself on the scoresheet after several near misses with his third goal of the season on the power play.
Cleveland coasted for the remainder of the game to close out a 5-1 victory.
Post Game Notes
– Toronto’s power play registered for just its seventh goal in 15 games. However, for all intents and purposes, it also gave up a short-handed marker on a 3-1 tally that essentially put the game out of reach.
– Brennan Menell left the game inside the first 10 minutes with a shoulder injury and did not return.
“For five D playing the game like that, they did a good job,” said Greg Moore. “We will have to get some guys in tomorrow and see how it goes.”
Pavel Gogolev and Josh Ho-Sang were also absent through illness. Noel Hoeffenmayer and Filip Kral remained in Toronto and presumably will play in Saturday’s rematch.
– Alex Steeves led the Marlies with six shots on goal. His primary assist on the lone Toronto goal was his 10th point (6-4-10) in as many games.
– Friday’s lines:
Seney – Abramov – Anderson
McMann – SDA – Steeves
Kopacka – Douglas – Gabriel
Clune – Chyzowski – McKenna
Dahlström – Biega
Rubins – Duszak
Hellickson – Menell