The Toronto Marlies suffered their first regulation defeat of the month in an undignified fashion.
A combination of indiscipline, missed assignments, and an ineffective penalty kill resulted in the heaviest loss of the season so far. This was the first time this season that the Marlies scored fewer than two goals in a game.
The Marlies got off to a bright start, generating three quality chances in the first three minutes. Victor Mete had a look from down low in the left circle, but his weak effort was batted away by the stick of Antoine Bibeau. Matthew Hellickson’s pinpoint outlet pass sent Graham Slaggert in alone on goal, but Bibeau gloved the rookie’s early attempt.
The former Marlies netminder also turned aside a shot from Nick Abruzzese, and Logan Shaw couldn’t connect in his attempt to bat the puck out of the air. Shaw was called for tripping on the same play, setting in motion a flurry of Marlies penalties and a special teams battle for the remainder of the period.
Toronto needed to kill 1:18 while down by two men after Noel Hoefenmayer was called for a dubious tripping penalty. Excellent work from the trio of Hellickson, Marshall Rifai, and Curtis Douglas killed off the majority of the 5-on-3, allowing the Marlies to escape all the penalties without any damage sustained on the scoreboard.
The Marlies were unable to capitalize on their lone power-play opportunity and were tabbed for two more penalties before the period ended. Keith Petruzzelli made 12 saves, none better than the top-notch pad stop on Cole Reinhardt, who cut across the crease after driving in off of the left wing.
The result of the game was effectively decided in the middle frame. A double-minor penalty for Joseph Blandisi carried over into the second period, and Belleville finally made use of the man advantage.
It owed more to a poor piece of penalty killing than any sort of brilliance from the Senators. Egor Sokolov sauntered through Toronto’s four-man unit before beating Petruzzelli one-on-one.
From the restart of play, the teams exchanged excellent scoring chances. Petruzzelli robbed Brennan Saulnier and Cole Cassels on consecutive shots to keep Toronto within one. The Marlies then created a breakaway for Alex Steeves, who should’ve challenged Bibeau more than he did.
Belleville doubled their lead inside six minutes. It was yet another piece of poor defensive play from Toronto stemming from the fact they were a step behind Belleville physically and mentally.
Mac Hollowell failed to move the puck quickly enough and turned over possession behind the goal line under pressure from two forecheckers. Petruzzelli would probably want the goal back as Rourke Chartier’s deceptive wraparound slipped by his right pad.
Toronto found themselves down 3-0 by the eight-minute mark as the Senators struck for the second time on the power play. A poorly-judged line change handed Belleville an odd-man rush, and Ridley Greig scored his third goal of the season.
The fourth and final goal of the middle frame was another hot mess from the Marlies’ point of view. Anyone who watched the game will know the officiating was incredibly poor, and the lack of an icing call leading up to this goal was inexcusable.
However, the Marlies needed to play to the whistle, and Hellickson failed to do that. He was stripped off the puck before Cassels beat Petruzzelli from the right circle.
The Marlies began the third period with the man advantage and did everything but score on it. The incessant pressure did pay off eventually; within a few seconds of the power play ending, Blandisi scored to get Toronto on the board.
The Marlies’ momentum coming off of the goal was halted by another suspect call by the officials. Blandisi returned to the box for goaltender interference despite being shoved into the crease by Senators defenseman Kristians Rubins.
The Marlies killed off the penalty, but any thoughts of a comeback were quashed with yet another piece of brain-fart hockey. Mete attempted to skate past two Belleville players in the neutral zone and was easily dispossessed, resulting in a two-on-one break with Hollowell as the last skater back. Hollowell attempted to take away the pass and failed as Saulnier dished off to Cassels to make it 5-1.
The Senators’ third power-play tally of the evening rounded off the scoring. Sokolov slammed home a one-time shot from the left circle past a beleaguered Petruzzelli, who must have wished his stay in the NHL was extended by a few days.
The goaltender pulled off a remarkable full-length diving save to his left to rob Philippe Daoust, denying the Senators a seventh goal, but it was a small mercy in an abject performance by the Marlies.
Post Game Notes
– The Marlies’ eight-game point streak snapped, and their streak of 12 consecutive games scoring a power play goal was also brought to an end.
– This was the last of eight consecutive road games for Toronto. Although it ended with a dud performance, it was an otherwise successful time on the road as the Marlies posted a record of 6-1-1.
– Keith Petruzzelli was a perfect 6-0 before earning an NHL deal and a call-up. In his return to the Marlies in this game, he would probably want the second goal back, but he was otherwise left hung out to dry.
– The Marlies return home with a pair of games against Abbotsford this weekend. Retribution should be on the agenda as the Canucks made short work of Toronto last season, cruising to a pair of victories by scorelines of 6-4 and 3-0.
– Friday’s lines:
Abruzzese – Shaw – Anderson
Steeves – Blandisi – Gaudette
Der-Arguchintsev – Slaggert – Ellis
Chyzowski – Douglas – Johnstone
Rifai – Mete
Hoefenmayer – Hollowell
Hellickson – Villeneuve