You could argue there were extenuating circumstances surrounding this defeat for the Toronto Marlies. Illness and injury have taken their toll on their roster, with high-scoring forwards Brett Seney and Alex Steeves recently joining the list of absences.
There was also the matter of an abysmal performance from the officials, who not only consistently missed infractions but made a few phantom calls. It was so bad that the standard of officiating was openly questioned during the TV broadcast.
However, the Marlies were also outplayed and outcompeted throughout the 60 minutes and deserved to come away with nothing offensively.
Greg Moore threw out his fourth line (promoted to the third line for this game) for the opening shift. They created a scoring opportunity in the opening 30 seconds, but Jack Kopacka was unable to finish from the slot after a heads-up play by Curtis Douglas.
The Canucks should have taken the lead three minutes later. A brain fart moment for Kristians Rubins saw him throw the puck into the slot straight to Yushiroh Hirano, but Erik Källgren bailed him out with a customary fantastic early save.
An egregiously bad penalty call led to the opening goal. Mac Hollowell could only watch from the penalty box as Noah Juulsen’s shot from the point had eyes through traffic, unsighting Kallgren completely on the play.
There wasn’t any scoring in the middle frame despite half-a-dozen excellent scoring chances.
A piece of nice interplay between Kopacka and Douglas led to a rebound chance for Rich Clune inside the opening minute before Abbotsford created three dangerous chances without reply. Källgren turned aside Will Lockwood and Phil Di Giuseppe (twice) to keep Toronto within striking distance.
Joseph Blandisi hit the post from the slot following a broken play, but that wouldn’t prove to be the worst “miss” of the period. Mikhail Abramov had a wide-open cage to aim at after a shot from Joseph Duszak ended up on his stick via the end boards, but the rookie somehow missed the target.
Sheldon Dries, already at the 30-goal mark this season heading into the game, should have added to this tally, but he uncharacteristically missed the target when alone in the slot with just Källgren left to beat.
Abbotsford cemented their victory with an additional two power-play goals.
The Marlies‘ penalty kill allowed Jarid Lukosevicius all the time in the world to spin and fire home from the bumper slot to make it 2-0. The 3-0 goal featured a fantastic reverse pass from Nic Petan, but the Toronto PK left Vincent Arseneau wide open in the middle of the ice.
The Marlies recorded just seven shots in the final frame, with only the recalled Ryan Chyzowski forcing Spencer Martin to make a save of consequence in order to preserve his shutout.
Post Game Notes
– This game marked the third time this season that Toronto has been shut out. The Marlies power play went 0-2 while the penalty kill gave up the only three goals in the games (3-6). Toronto has given up three power-play goals in three of their last six games.
“We rely on the same guys to do a job in that area of the game [on the PK], and game after game, we keep wearing them down, and even our goaltenders,” said Greg Moore. “It is a lot of energy spent in the wrong places. If we are going to pull ourselves out of this [losing streak], and start finding some success, we definitely need to stay out of the penalty box.”
– Since shutting out Rochester on February 26, 20212, the Marlies have allowed 26 goals in six games.
– Erik Källgren stopped 27 of 30 shots and kept the game within reach for almost 50 minutes. It has to be demoralizing for him to keep performing at this level while receiving little support or reward for his efforts. He deserves the emergency call-up to the NHL, and my hope is he receives at least one start to showcase his skills.
– Wednesday’s lines:
Blandisi – Suomela – Anderson
O’Brien – Abramov – Ho-Sang
Clune – Douglas – Kopacka
McMann – Chyzowski – Duszak
Kivihalme – Biega
Krys – Hollowell
Král – Rubins