October 23 2013 08:01PM
As we all know, the Toronto Maple Leafs took a chip to their high-flying armour against the Chicago Blackhawks last Saturday night. While a win against Anaheim put them in the right direction, there's still something to be said about a little organizational revenge. Tonight was an opportunity for that, as the Rockford IceHogs came into town to take on the Toronto Marlies in an AHL version of the matchup. Unfortunately for them, they couldn't cease it. Despite an early 2-0 lead, Rockford scored three straight to take the two points.
Thte Marlies were first to strike. Spencer Abbott continued his early season hot streak by setting up Greg McKegg, who fired a wrist shot just inside the middle-right post with expert precision. It was the bright light cast on an otherwise boring opening period, which saw each team go on a single powerplay and do little with their two minutes, and next to no scoring chances beyond that.
Things picked up a little in the second period. Abbott, looking to continue his roll, took a shot on Antti Raanta, but was denied. Carter Ashton, however, trailed behind, pounced on the loose puck, and scored his second goal in as many games. The lead, however, wouldn't last. Alex Broadhurst beat Drew MacIntryre on a cross crease one timer, and his brother Terry brought the game all square with a one his own timer, this one coming from behind the net.
This game still needed somebody to score, and Jeremy Morin was the one to break the tie in the final minutes of the third period, almost immediately after a Marlies defensive zone faceoff. Toronto, in danger of losing its first home game of the season, needed to pull out all the stops inthe closing minutes. Rockford kept pressing, but a big glove save by Drew kept the blue and white alive. It woke the team up a little, and a strong effort was put forth with the net empty, but it came to no avail.
Drew Macintyre looked better than the numbers showed tonight. The first and second goals against were both high percentage scoring changes, ones that you can't blame a goalie for letting in at just about any level or calibre.
Spencer Abbott now has a whopping eight assists in his last five games. He's already NHL-quality in his passing ability, if nothing else. A glutton of scoring winger depth doesn't help him get into that lineup, though.
Carter Ashton's nose for the net is something I haven't seen from him in quite a while. I'll talk more about him in a post either tomorrow or Friday.
The powerplay unit didn't have much time to get to work, and was largely forgettable in their limited attempts. The penalty kill, on the other hand, continued their dominance.
Another tough crowd tonight. The Marlies generally draw better for afternoon games, and this was a classic example. There were.. handfuls of people here, and even that was encouraged by this being the last game of a voucher promo. Things usually pick up after their first big road trip though, so as long as the team doesn't fall apart on the ice in the next few weeks, the people will be back soon enough.
Photo courtesy of Christian Bonin / TSGPhoto.com