Excellent goaltending and poor finishing meant the Toronto Marlies weren’t made to pay for their defensive mistakes in their shootout win over Rochester on Friday.
Bridgeport wasn’t so generous on Saturday, punishing the Marlies with clinical finishing in the first period that chased goaltender Keith Petruzzelli from the game.
Toronto trailed as of the five-minute mark when a misplay from Curtis Douglas at the Bridgeport blue line led to an odd-man rush for the Islanders. On a 3-on-1, the trailer on the play, Grant Hutton, made no mistake with a one-time finish.
The Islanders had to wait almost 10 minutes for their second goal. Keith Petruzzelli made the initial save on Cole Bardreau’s point shot, but the Marlies were standing around as Arnaud Durandeau slotted home the rebound.
13 seconds later, Bridgeport led 3-0. Chad Krys and Brett Seney were both guilty of lackadaisical play deep in the defensive zone, where possession was turned over to Holmstrom, who rifled a shot from the left circle up and over the shoulder of Petruzzelli.
The fourth first-period goal finished Toronto off. A give-and-go between Bardreau and Jeff Kubiak carved four Marlies defenders open before the latter slotted in his seventh goal of the seven to wrap up a wretched opening 20 minutes.
Michael Hutchinson replaced Petruzzelli to begin the middle frame, although you could hardly blame the rookie goaltender for the shambolic play in front of him.
Despite plenty of high-danger scoring chances for both teams, there was just one goal in the second period. Kubiak struck the crossbar on a penalty shot after getting tripped on a shorthanded breakaway before Andy Andreoff scored score on a breakaway with three minutes remaining. The veteran forward roofed a backhand shot past Hutchinson after several near misses for Bridgeport.
Score effects took over in the final frame as, remarkably, Toronto ended up outshooting Bridgeport 40-30 through 60 minutes. The Islanders dialed back the intensity of their play from the previous 40 minutes, but they still could have padded their lead with another pair of goals.
Nick Robertson ensured Toronto avoided the shutout at the four-minute mark with a tap-in on a feed from Joseph Duszak. Alex Steeves had a chance to net a second goal on a breakaway four minutes later, but his effort was met by a good glove save from Cory Schneider.
This 5-1 defeat was reminiscent of many losses this season: a slow start and lack of intensity to Toronto’s play in the opening period has seen them chasing far too many games.
Post Game Notes
– Life doesn’t become any easier for Toronto. They hit the road for two road games against Abbotsford (who manhandled them earlier in March) during the week. At the weekend, Toronto faces a difficult-to-beat Manitoba Moose in a pair of games before returning home.
With just 0.013 points separating Toronto (third) and Rochester in sixth sitting outside the playoffs, every point is crucial.
“The timing of this trip I think is really good for our group,” said Greg Moore. “Sometimes a road trip can get the guys spending more time together and bonding. At this point in the year, before we ramp up into important games for the playoff push, this is another opportunity for us to come closer together.”
– Saturday’s lines:
McMann – Seney – Anderson
Robertson – Abramov – Ho-Sang
Steeves- Suomela – Duszak
Clune – Douglas – Kopacka
Kivihalme – Myers
Král – Dahlström
Krys – Rubins