Prior to the break, the Toronto Marlies appeared to have ironed out the slow starts that plagued them in many of their losses in the first half of the season.

Unfortunately, their reverting to old habits when it comes to not starting on time was the reason for the team’s back-to-back losses to Belleville over the weekend, including this 5-4 overtime loss on Saturday.

“The starts were a strength of ours for a while there,” said Greg Moore. “We will have to hit the reset and discuss it as a group. If you look at the six periods, I thought we had four really good periods, but in the two games, the first period was [our downfall].”

First Period

It’s no exaggeration to suggest that the Marlies could have trailed by four goals after 20 minutes of play.

Belleville opened the scoring at the six-minute mark when Mark Kastelic provided a deft redirect to a shot from Logan Shaw, a lead that was doubled five minutes later with Shaw playing finisher after missed assignments by the Marlies in four-on-four action.

Erik Källgren was the reason Toronto only trailed 2-0 at the first intermission. The Swedish goaltender turned aside Rourke Chartier and Egor Sokolov on separate breakaway opportunities and came up with other notable saves on Colby Williams, Andrew Agozzino, and Cole Reinhardt.

Offensively, the Marlies threatened on just three occasions. Alex Biega fully tested Kevin Mandolese with an effort from the slot while the other two chances fell to Curtis Douglas. Leading a 2-on-1 rush, Douglas’ weak near-post effort didn’t fully challenge the Senators goaltender.

The second high-danger chance came after Pavel Gogolev beat two defenders, but a pass to Douglas might have been the better option than a backhand shot that he sent wide of the target from in tight.

Second Period

The Marlies were a different team in the second period offensively as they outshot Belleville 16-5 and hugely out-chanced them, but costly mistakes came back to bite them at critical moments.

The Marlies should have gotten off to the perfect start in the opening 60 seconds, but Joey Anderson missed an empty net from a relatively-tight angle.

Toronto then found their breakthrough inside the first two minutes via Nick Robertson, whose persistence in front of the goal paid off on the second attempt.

Belleville responded just 17 seconds later when Toronto turned the puck over in the neutral zone and lost their numbers in transition. Agozzino ended up alone in front of the blue paint, where he redirected Jake Lucchini’s pass past Källgren.

The Marlies fired seven shots without response before they received a gift from Belleville at the midway mark.

Shaw took possession, skated behind the net looking for a breakout play, and inexplicably sent a pass directly out in front that Antti Suomela anticipated and intercepted with his stick down on the ice. The Finnish forward — an underrated scorer, for my money — made no mistake with his backhand finish.

After establishing a foothold in the game, the Marlies gave the goal right back again. A turnover in the Senators zone and losing their numbers up ice, creating a 4-on-2 rush on which Michael Del Zotto finished off a fluid passing movement to score on Belleville’s second shot of the period.

The Marlies were indebted to their goaltender for keeping the game within reach late in the middle frame. Roby Jarventie sprung loose on a breakaway, but Källgren got the better of him to keep the scoreline at 4-2.

Third Period

The Marlies took control of the third period, limiting Belleville to two scoring chances and creating plenty themselves while chasing the lead.

Semyon Der-Arguchintsev struck only 66 seconds into the final frame of regulation on a swift passing movement across the blue line following a broken play.

Lapses after goals were a feature throughout the game; after a giveaway, Zac Leslie was robbed by Källgren, who again bailed the Marlies out and continues to impress this season despite his stat line taking a beating.

The opportunities came and passed for the Marlies. Robertson fired wide, a shot from Mac Hollowell was blockered aside, and Bobby McMann was robbed by Mandolese on a rebound chance. The power play failed to click on two more opportunities before the tying goal finally arrived with 10 minutes remaining.

Alex Steeves scored from a tight angle after excellent work on the left boards from Hollowell to escape a defender and find the rookie with a backhand pass.

The extra frame seemed inevitable from there with very few scoring opportunities created in the remaining 10 minutes of regulation.


Overtime was naturally a much more open affair with chances at both ends.

The best chance for Toronto to clinch the extra point fell to Mac Hollowell. A misplay from Mandolese presented the puck to the defenseman with the Belleville goaltender out of position, but the Marlies defenseman missed the target.

The Senators twice hit the post before Sokolov netted his fourth goal of the season to secure a second straight win over Toronto.

Post Game Notes

– This weekend’s two-game series against Belleville included goals in back-to-back games for Semyon Der-Arguchintsev for the third time this season. An assist provided him with his fifth multi-point game, taking him up to eight points in the last six games. The diminutive forward is reaping the dividends of getting more pucks on the net lately.

“[SDA and Robertson] are close off the ice and are always talking after shifts about plays that just happened and what they are looking to do in certain scenarios,” said Moore. “SDA is a great puck distributor. He sees the ice very well. He is very deceptive. Nick is really good at finding open spots to shoot the puck. They kind of complement each other very well in terms of balancing each other’s strengths and complementing how they attack the net.”

– After a non-event game on Friday, Nick Robertson bounced back with a goal and an assist. He’s up to seven points (3-4-7) in as many games.

“In his short time since his return, he has proven that because of how hard he works, he can step in after a long injury and have an impact,” said Moore.

Brett Seney was tied for the team lead in shots (six) in this game but extended his goal-less streak to six games. He took a pair of minor penalties and allowed Belleville to get him off his game this past weekend.

– Saturday’s lines:

Seney – Suomela – Anderson
McMann – Der-Arguchintsev – Robertson
Clifford – Abramov – Steeves
Kopacka – Douglas – Gogolev

Dahlström – Hollowell
Hellickson – Biega
Rubins – Menell


Greg Moore Post Game: Senators 5 vs. Marlies 4 (OT)

Game Highlights: Senators 5 vs. Marlies 4 (OT)