The Toronto Marlies returned to winning ways despite a faltering penalty kill and another slow start.

“Once we got through the first 15 minutes of the game, it was a good, structured effort where everyone was buying into what we needed to do to win a hockey game,” said Greg Moore after his team’s 4-3 overtime victory on Saturday.

First Period

Cleveland controlled much of the first frame and registered the first nine shots without reply. The Monsters were unable to connect on the game’s first power play and debutant Keith Petruzzelli held firm between the pipes, albeit with one slice of luck in the form of a crossbar.

It took until almost the 15 minute for the Marlies to test Jean-Francois Berube, who comfortably turned aside Joey Anderson’s effort.

You could not deny Cleveland deserved to hold a lead through 20 minutes. They struck first with a little under two minutes remaining after Dillon Simpson’s top-shelf finish from the high slot beat Petruzzelli through a screen of players.

A blistering one-time shot from Josh Ho-Sang standing in the left circle on a feed from Joseph Duszak was as close as Toronto come to registering levelling the game before the first intermission.

Second Period

Momentum shifted rapidly inside three minutes of the second period after an extra effort by Brett Seney — who had been tabbed for two penalties in the opening frame — drew a penalty of his own just 92 seconds in.

Sustained possession in the offensive zone appeared to be all for nought until a piece of magic and a deal of patience from Ho-Sang. The winger drove down the middle of the offensive zone and sent a seeing-eye shot through a maze of bodies in front of Berube to even the score at 1-1.

Building on the momentum of the goal, the Marlies grabbed a go-ahead marker just 23 seconds later when Curtis Douglas found rookie Ryan Chyzowski in the right circle with a pass perfectly in his wheelhouse. He may have found his AHL debut Friday night tough going, but Chyzowski’s one-time slapshot beat Berube cleanly. The celebrations on the ice and bench, as well as Chyzowski’s big grin, were heartwarming as the Kamloops native celebrated his first AHL tally.

As is Toronto’s way this season, they almost gave up the lead within a few shifts. A miscommunication between Semyon Der-Arguchintsev and Joseph Duszak at the offensive blue line allowed Carson Meyer a free path toward the Marlies‘ goal, but Meyer’s effort was terrible as he fired the puck wildly off-target.

Alex Steeves came within millimeters of extending Toronto’s lead on the power play, but he rang a shot off the post after splitting the Monsters’ penalty kill.

In a period where defense seemed to take a back seat — both teams combined for 23 shots — more goals were inevitable.

Cleveland tied the game up for a second time, again on the power play. With Seney hurt and left prone on the ice, it was essentially a two-man advantage for the Monsters, and Kevin Stenlnd made no mistake with a clinical blocker-side finish from the slot.

To Toronto’s credit, they picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and scored for the third time in the middle frame. After a loop around the net with his head up all the way, Anderson picked out Der-Arguchintsev unmarked in the slot to score his fourth of the season.

A reckless high-sticking infraction by Duszak gave back some momentum to the Monsters, but the Marlies clung onto a narrow lead through 40 minutes.

Third Period

Toronto climbed into a shell in the final frame of regulation and eventually paid the price.

Neither team could make use of further power-play opportunities, and the Marlies had only two scoring chances of note to grab an insurance marker — a wraparound attempt by Mikhail Abramov — who drew a penalty in the process — and a breakaway for Seney, who tried to be too fine with a shot intended for the top corner and missed the target.

The tying marker arrived with 2:41 remaining when Cleveland completely carved Toronto open with a series of one-touch passes. Adam Helewka finished off a tic-tac-play courtesy of a feed from rookie Tyler Angle.

It could have taken a turn for the even worse for the Marlies if their rookie goaltender wasn’t alert upon the restart of play. Justin Scott had a fantastic chance in tight, but Petruzzelli flung himself to his left to smother the shot and the Marlies forced overtime despite being second-best in the third period.

Overtime

Seney took a ridiculous holding penalty just 23 seconds in to put the Marlies on the back foot, but stoic work while down a man paid dividends — not only to keep Cleveland off the board but also to somehow confuse the Monsters into taking a too-many-men penalty.

With neither team able to make a man-advantage count, a shootout looked inevitable. That was until Alex Steeves entered the fray. On a stretch pass from Carl Dahlström, Steeves was alone on goal but rang his initial shot off the post. After corralling his own rebound, the rookie forward scored from a more acute angle than his first attempt to earn the Marlies the extra point.


Post Game Notes

Keith Petruzzelli turned aside 30 shots for a victory in his AHL debut. He kept Toronto in the game during the first period and made a number of key saves throughout the game. In my opinion, he’s shown enough to earn as many starts as possible until Ian Scott returns.

“He reminds me a lot of Ian Scott with how calm he is in the net,” said Moore. “Any time you have a goalie who can instil some confidence and stillness back there, it just gives confidence to the team in front of him.”

– This was another two-point haul for Alex Steeves, who continues to produce in his rookie season without much fanfare. He assisted on the first power-play goal, and the winner in overtime was his second GWG of the season. His 12 points in 11 games include seven goals.

– A first AHL goal for Ryan Chyzowski in just his second outing was a really nice moment in this game. I like his work ethic, and he appears to be a defensively-responsible player. Other than that, we’ll need more viewings, but for a player thrown onto the fourth line, he acquitted himself well.

– Without a point in his previous 14 games, Carl Dahlström bumped his slump with three assists in this game, a pair of secondary helpers in regulation and the primary stretch-pass assist for the overtime winner. Toronto could use a little more production from their blue line, and hopefully this will give the Swedish defenseman a little more confidence offensively.

– Saturday’s lines:

Forwards
Seney – SDA – Anderson
Steeves – Abramov – Ho-Sang
McMann – Douglas – Gabriel
Kopacka – Chyzowski – Clune

Defensemen
Hellickson – Dahlström
Rubins – Duszak
Hoefenmayer – Biega

Goaltenders
Petruzzelli
Hutchinson


Greg Moore Post Game: Marlies 4 vs. Monsters 3 (OT)


Game Highlights: Marlies 4 vs. Monsters 3 (OT)