“Certainly, the first period wasn’t what we wanted.”
– Marlies head coach Greg Moore
Less than 24 hours after dispatching Laval with a great 60-minute effort, the Toronto Marlies produced an abject effort in the rematch on Saturday. The result was a three-goal deficit in the opening frame, a hole they were never able to climb out of.
The Marlies fell behind 72 seconds into the game when Keith Petruzzelli was screened as Madison Bowey’s shot from the top of the right circle found the roof of his net.
The Rocket probably should have doubled their lead at the three-minute mark when Joël Teasdale broke away free and clear off of a faceoff win, but Petruzzelli pulled off a good glove save.
The Marlies simply weren’t ready to play this game to start the opening frame. They iced the puck on three occasions inside the opening five minutes and relied on another big save from Petruzzelli to prevent a power-play goal against.
A defensive-zone turnover nearly proved costly after the penalty expired — Anthony Richard was alone in front of the net — but Petruzzelli bailed out his teammates once again.
The Marlies killed a second penalty, but they failed to make hay on their first power play before Laval scored a pair of almost identical goals just 77 seconds apart. Shots from the point resulted in rebounds that Peter Abbandonato and Pierrick Dubé finished off.
“That period, quite honestly, was not acceptable by us,” said Marlies captain Logan Shaw in the intermission interview.
Toronto began the middle frame on the penalty kill, but they turned it into a positive. Shaw broke away with speed and created a rebound that was finished off by Bobby McMann.
The goal should have been a shot in the arm for the Marlies, but they continued to hemorrhage scoring chances instead.
Dubé was robbed of a second goal by an incredible right-toe save by Petruzzelli, who then performed an acrobatic kick save two minutes later to avoid what looked to be a certain goal against.
Brandon Gignac gave Laval a 4-1 lead just before the seven-minute mark by scoring on another rebound. That was the end of a tough outing for Petruzzelli, who was hung out to dry by his teammates despite making a handful of excellent saves.
A fight between Matteo Pietroniro and Lucas Condotta did nothing to spark the Marlies, who fell behind 5-1.
A wild shot from Abbandonato hit Gabriel Bourque in the chest, and the puck somehow fell in behind Erik Källgren.
Dryden Hunt scored his first goal for Toronto after a dominant two-minute shift that finally gave the home fans something to cheer about.
The outcome of the game might have been different if Toronto seized on a few late-period scoring chances to draw within two goals. Adam Gaudette forced a good glove save out of Primeau, while Nick Abruzzese and Shaw were both rejected from point-blank range.
Laval seemed mostly content to hold onto the lead given their poor defensive record this season, but they also threatened a few times on the odd counterattack.
Anthony Richard almost extended the Laval lead to four at the four-minute mark during a three-on-two rush, but his effort rang the crossbar.
The Marlies produced a better effort in the final frame than in the opening 40 minutes, but they weren’t able to score early enough in the period to put the Rocket under any serious pressure.
Opting for the extra attacker with four minutes remaining, McMann netted his second of the game with a nice finish off of a pass from Shaw. There was no miraculous comeback in the cards, though, as Laval scored a pair of empty-net goals to secure a 7-3 victory.
Post Game Notes
– This was a burn-the-tape performance if there ever was one. The lack of effort and intensity from the Marlies made it tough to glean much from the game.
“As we expected, Laval came out really hard and physical,” said Moore. “They set up their forecheck game before we did. We weren’t able to start the sequence of events that allowed us to play like we did [on Friday]. Defensively, in our zone, we just didn’t box out. We didn’t protect our goalie. The rebound goals we allowed were a sign of that.”
– This was Toronto’s first loss to Laval this season having won the previous five meetings.
– A pair of goals for Bobby McMann takes him to the double-figure mark on the season in just 19 appearances. His performance was a lone bright spot for Toronto. He has seven goals in his last seven AHL games.
“[McMann] is fast for the NHL, let alone the American league, and he is really powerful,” said Moore. “It was a great play by Shaw on the shorthanded goal to out-power the guy and out-skate him to get a jump up the ice. Whether he was purposely shooting to create the rebound or not, Bobby followed it up and put it away.”
– Logan Shaw recorded a pair of assists to register his 12th multi-point haul this season. His 52 points (16G/36A) are good for fourth overall in AHL scoring.
– Saturday’s lines:
McMann – Shaw – Abruzzese
Hunt – Der-Arguchintsev -Steeves
Clifford – Holmberg – Gaudette
Blandisi- Abramov – Johnstone
Rifai – Miller
Kokkonen – Hoefenmayer
Pietroniro – Villeneuve