In a game featuring two exciting goaltending prospects, Milwaukee’s Yaroslav Askarov prevailed.
Joseph Woll did everything in his power to try to earn the Toronto Marlies the win, especially in the first period when he turned aside seven quality scoring chances for the Admirals.
The shot clock didn’t accurately depict the tale of the tape in the opening frame. Toronto held a 13-11 advantage, but they were mostly kept to the perimeter.
The Marlies did almost get off to the perfect start just 15 seconds in, but Graham Slaggert was unable to connect on an excellent slot pass by Marc Johnstone, and Milwaukee responded by dominating the following shifts.
Michael McCarron, Spencer Stastney, and Zach Sanford were all robbed by Joseph Woll, who needed to be alert to make three fantastic saves in as many minutes.
The deadlock was broken at the eight-minute mark with the Marlies caught puck-watching in the defensive zone. Woll was hung out to dry, making three consecutive saves before Joakim Kemell finished off a rebound to register his first AHL goal.
Milwaukee created opportunities to build its lead without success, the best of which came via an odd-man rush following a bad decision to pinch by Jordie Benn. Navrin Mutter shot top-shelf, but Woll deflected the effort high into the netting.
A late chance off the rush for Pontus Holmberg was as good as it got for Toronto offensively. It was a better 20-minute effort than of late, but the lack of quality scores chances was a concern.
The middle frame turned into a special-teams battle with six penalties called in 12 minutes. After failing to connect the first time of asking, Toronto’s power play made hay on the second attempt.
The Marlies moved the puck with pace from down low before William Villeneuve — who pinched into the play at the top of the circles — ripped a booming one-time shot that gave Askarov no chance.
Toronto’s penalty kill stood firm, albeit with the aid of another high-quality save from Woll on Sanford from the slot. The Marlies‘ continued to impress by denying John Leonard on two separate occasions as Toronto continued to hold the upper hand at five-on-five play.
The Admirals threw away the best scoring chance of the period during a spell of four-on-four action. A turnover allowed Milwaukee to break on an odd-man rush (three on one), but Milwaukee failed to record a shot.
Toronto also wasted a chance to take a lead into the third period. Orrin Centazzo escaped down the right wing and sent a perfectly-weighted pass to Jack Badini storming through the slot. There wasn’t much oomph on Badini’s shot as Askarov made a comfortable save from close range.
Three consecutive penalties in three minutes presented Toronto with the perfect opportunity to take control of the game.
The Marlies’ power play floundered, recording just four shots in what turned out to be a very low-event 20 minutes.
An effort from Logan Shaw struck the post, but otherwise, there was little for the home fans to cheer.
Woll made another good stop in the closing minutes to deny Austin Rueschhoff, forcing extra time.
The extra period was a similarly low-event affair, but both teams could have stolen the second point in the final minute.
Isaac Ratcliffe should have done better than firing wide on a breakaway. With 10 seconds remaining, Nick Abruzzese recorded a shot from the high slot that resulted in a rebound for Shaw, but a fantastic block denied Toronto’s captain from slotting the puck past Askarov.
Milwaukee, the king of the shootout this season, recorded their seventh victory in the skills competition as Sanford’s lone goal proved to be the difference between the teams.
Post Game Notes
– A third successive defeat for Toronto marks their longest losing streak this season. Toronto has scored just two goals through the last three games.
– William Villeneuve scored his third goal this season and first since January 14.
“[Villeneuve] is a very offensive defenseman,” said Greg Moore. “He has been able to distribute and make a lot of plays with the puck. He makes his teammates a lot better. He plays really fast on the power play. He reads the game really well.
“As the year has gone on, his development program and strength training has really been paying off. When he hit that one-timer, it is a lot different looking than it was earlier this season. The strength he has put on has really helped him in a lot of areas.”
– This was a strong performance from Joseph Woll following a below-par outing against Charlotte. The 24-year-old turned aside 28 of 29 shots and was the main reason Toronto was able to earn a point.
“[Woll] is the most mature version of himself that I have seen since working with him here,” said Moore.
– Dmitry Ovchinnikov is a welcome addition to the forward group. There were some nice touches and sequences from him in his season debut.
“There were a lot of similar things to last year when [Ovechinnikov] got some time with us,” said Moore. “For a smaller guy, he is very competitive. He is not afraid to get contact, get his nose dirty, and stay under the puck.
“His execution of the team plan and the game management decisions that he makes — he is a real hockey player, is smart, and has skill. He is fast. He thinks the game really well. There is a lot of upside with him. I am excited.”
– Joseph Blandisi and Alex Steeves sat out with upper-body injuries and are both considered day-to-day. Semyon Der-Arguchintsev is back practicing in a red jersey. Carl Dahlstrom has also been back practicing. He is seemingly close to a return to action after passing through waivers.
– Recent acquisition Jonny Tychonick has been reassigned to Newfoundland.
– Wednesday’s lines:
Clifford – Shaw – Abruzzese
Ovchinnikov – Holmberg – Ellis
Slaggert – Johnstone – Solow
Centazzo – Badini
Rifai – Benn
Hoefenmayer – Miller