“I just don’t think we had the effort we needed, we weren’t connected as a team, and it showed,” said captain Logan Shaw after this 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Charlotte.
“There were a lot of compounded elements to the game… We didn’t work as hard as we needed to, and we weren’t executing our plan,” added head coach Greg Moore.
Those quotes sum it up. The Marlies mustered a season-low 13 shots on goal through 60 minutes in a 5-0 matinee loss to Charlotte at the Scotiabank Arena on Friday.
The silver lining: By virtue of Laval’s defeat to Utica, Toronto has officially clinched a playoff berth.
The Marlies managed three just shots on the net in the opening frame, but with better finishing, they could have built themselves a comfortable lead.
As early as the two-minute mark, the third line created a 3-on-1 rush. The combination of Kyle Clifford, Joseph Blandisi, and Zach Solow overcomplicated the issue, and Alex Lyon turned aside a weak shot with ease.
On the game’s first power play, the Marlies were wasteful, which is an adjective that summed up their first period.
Clifford failed to score on a breakaway, Marc Johnstone fired wide from the slot, and Solow couldn’t finish from in tight. Bobby McMann and Radim Zohorna combined with six minutes remaining, but neither showed the composure needed to score with Lyon out of position.
It took Charlotte almost 15 minutes to record their first shot of the game, but the Checkers needed just four attempts to take a 1-0 lead. Gerry Mayhew kicked a rebound from a Lucas Carlsson shot to his stick and slipped the puck around Joseph Woll’s left pad.
Henry Bowlby should have doubled the Checkers’ advantage with 40 seconds remaining when he burnt Tommy Miller with ease, but Woll stepped up with Bowlby in alone on goal.
The Marlies almost responded through an individual effort by Nick Abruzzese, who made a fantastic move around the last Charlotte defender but was thwarted by a good poke check from Lyon.
Four of Toronto’s six shots in the middle frame were recorded in the opening four minutes in a bright start to the frame that again lacked a clinical touch in front of goal from the Marlies.
An effort from Solow resulted in a huge rebound that none of his teammates could jump on before Clifford’s shot forced a shoulder save out of Lyon on the same shift.
Second-best through the entirety of the game on special teams, Toronto fell behind 2-0 as Charlotte scored on their first-man advantage. Riley Nash finished off a rebound after Carlsson again played provider.
The Checkers took control of the game from there and should have built themselves a three or four-goal lead in the following four minutes of action.
Toronto’s last opportunity to gain a foothold in the game arrived just before the midway point when a Charlotte turnover gifted Clifford a chance in the slot, but the veteran tough guy wired his shot wide of the target.
It wasn’t the best performance for Miller, whose mistake presented Charlotte with a third goal. A turnover allowed Bunnaman to escape on a breakaway and beat Woll with a five-hole finish.
If not for Woll, Toronto would have been in a bigger hole on a late power play. A good glove save by the Marlies netminder robbed Anthony Bitetto.
Any hopes the home crowd may have had about a third-period comeback were quickly extinguished. Toronto recorded a single shot through 15 minutes and conceded a fourth goal at the five-minute mark.
The closest the Marleis came to breaking the shutout was a long-range effort from Bobby McMann that struck the crossbar.
There was no let-up by the Checkers, who played hard for the full 60 minutes. They were rewarded with a fifth goal inside the final minute when Zac Dalpe sealed their 5-0 victory.
Abruzzese – Holmberg – Shaw
McMann – Zohorna – Johnstone
Clifford – Blandisi – Solow
Slaggert – Ellis
Rifai – Benn
Hoefenmayer – Miller
Král – Villeneuve