As has often been the case this season, strong goaltending earned the Toronto Marlies a pair of points they didn’t deserve on the run of their overall play.
The shot clock did not tell the story of the first period — or the entire game, for that matter.
Toronto was hugely outplayed at 5v5, but they stayed within striking distance of the Amerks thanks to Michael Hutchinson and a lack of finish from Rochester.
It took the Amerks 10 minutes to deservedly open the scoring on a bizarre deflection on the power play, with Sean Malone credited with the goal after much debate.
Toronto’s best scoring chances of the period arrived in the final minute during four-on-four action, where Brett Seney drove down the heart of the slot and forced a good pad save out of Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.
Against the run of play, Toronto tied the game up 30 seconds into the middle frame. It was a beautiful goal from Alex Steeves in the right circle, where he perfectly placed a shot off the far post and in.
Other than the early goal, Toronto rarely threatened in the second period. Bobby McMann was robbed during a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush and the Marlies enjoyed some offensive-zone time late in the period without creating any high-danger chances.
Rochester struggled to get pucks on target for the most part, but they continued to dominate possession for long stretches. Sean Malone restored the Amerks’ lead with his second of the game at the nine-minute mark.
That was the least the Americans deserved as Hutchinson made two excellent saves to turn aside Brett Murray and Michael Mersh.
The Amerks should have scored at least one insurance marker in the opening four minutes but were unable to put away Toronto in the final frame of regulation.
Mitch Elio wired his shot wide after a turnover from Joseph Duszak led to an odd-man rush for Rochester, and a strong drive through the slot by Ben Holmstrom should have ended with a tripping call or a goal. Neither was forthcoming as the officials didn’t make a call and Mark Jankowski was robbed by Hutchinson with a flying blocker save that was his best of the game.
As is so often the case after a huge save at one end of the ice, a goal followed at the other end after a turnover in the neutral zone allowed McMann to jump on his horse and power down the left wing. After bursting past two opponents, showing his speed and strength, McMann produced a top-shelf finish to tie the game at 2-2.
After tying the game, the Marlies immediately went to the power play with Mwersch in the box for tripping. Rochester again failed to be clinical when it truly mattered after Duszak mishandled the puck at the Rochester blue line, allowing Ryan Macinnis to skate in alone on Hutchinson. The veteran goaltender bailed out his team again and continued to shut the door to earn Toronto a point.
Rochester outshot Toronto 5-0 in overtime, but that’s not to say the Marlies didn’t have chances to snatch victory at three-on-three. Misplays from Josh Ho-Sang and Nick Robertson on breakaways meant a shootout was necessary to determine the fate of the extra point.
Joey Anderson remained perfect in the shootout this season with his third goal in the format. He was the only scorer as Hutchinson denied all three Amerks shooters to claim two vital points in the playoff push.
Post Game Notes
– Michael Hutchinson has now hit the century mark in AHL wins with a career record that reads 100-62-30 over 10 seasons. He’s been very much Jekyll and Hyde in the current campaign, but with injuries and callups, the Marlies need the veteran netminder to find his groove.
– The rookie goal-scoring race is heating up for Alex Steeves and Bobby McMann. Both players scored their 18th goal this season. They will be hard-pressed to catch Jabko Pelletier (26) of the Stockton Heat, but they could be the first Toronto rookies to score 20 goals in a season since Connor Brown in 2014-15.
– Friday’s lines:
McMann – Seney – Anderson
Robertson – Abramov – Ho-Sang
Clifford – Suomela – Steeves
Clune – Douglas – Kopacka
Kivihalme – Myers
Dahlström – Duszak
Krys – Rubins