January 04 2017 08:51PM
Photo Credit: Jonathan Kozub/Manitoba Moose
The Toronto Marlies and the American Hockey League standings haven't exactly been best friends of late. In the 19 games prior to this week, they had just five wins, which is one of the single worst stretches they've had in franchise history. Needing a spark, they headed to Manitoba to take on the Moose in a pair of games at the MTS Centre. The end result? A one-goal loss on Tuesday, and a 4-3 win on the night that followed.
Tuesday Night (2-1 Loss)
Tuesday's game was a one where you could safely say that the Marlies deserved a lot better. All of the game's scoring game in a six-minute span, and it was in the only span of the game where the flow of play was all that close together. Three minutes into the second period, Chase De Leo took in a cross-ice pass from Scott Glennie, and fired a snapshot through the arm of Garret Sparks to put the Moose up 1-0. Colin Smith responded by burying a feed from Kasperi Kapanen in the slot, just thirty seconds later, but a penalty to Rich Clune put the Marlies back in a bad position.
On that Manitoba powerplay, Jimmy Lodge blasted a point shot into the top left corner of the Toronto net to put his team up 2-1. While Garret Sparks stopped everything he faced for the remainder of the night, and while the Marlies managed to outshoot their opponents 12-3 in the third period, it wasn't enough to come back. Toronto ended the night up by over double in the shot count (35-16), while doubled in goals.
Wednesday Night (4-3 Win)
Wednesday's game started much more hectic; there were more shots taken in the first period of their grudge match than the first and third periods of Tuesday combined. This time, Manitoba was the one in control, taking 18 shots (two more than the whole night before) in the opening twenty, De Leo beat Jhonas Enroth with one of them, but before, that, the Marlies briefly went ahead thanks to this goal from Dmytro Timashov:
Dmytro Timashov puts the Marlies up 1-0 over Manitoba pic.twitter.com/xLHXbBawSd— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) January 5, 2017
Manitoba starter Eric Comrie was clearly screened by his own defender, but it was wise of Timashov to take advantage of the situation. Scoring picked up again in the second period after a hooking penalty to Byron Froese sent the Moose to a powerplay. Kevin Czuczman fired a point shot off the back boards and through Enroth's path, and while Frank Corrado attempted to tie him up, Scott Glennie was able to break free and tap in his fourth goal of the season.
Brendan Leipsic with a sweet individual effort on the powerplay to tie the game at 2-2. Much needed goal for the Marlies. pic.twitter.com/dgIpt6d7sL— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) January 5, 2017
Before the period closed, though, Toronto managed to equalize. This time, it was their turn to strike on the powerplay, as Brendan Leipsic carved out his opposition and slid the puck past Eric Comrie in the dying seconds of the frame.
Not sure if its Andrew Campbell or Tobias Lindberg who will end up with this goal, but the Marlies are up 3-2. pic.twitter.com/BQdZOj5Bho— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) January 5, 2017
Early in the third period, the Marlies picked up their first lead of the game, and grew it in quick succession. In this case, Tobias Lindberg crashed the net and, just barely avoiding goaltender interference by getting a bit of additional guiding, redirected Andrew Campbell's point shot to put the team up 3-2. Moments later, a near-identical play saw Kerby Rychel redirect Andrew Nielsen's shot to give the Marlies insurance.
Scott Kosmachuk pulls the Moose back in, 4-3. This is an extremely poor effort by Jhonas Enroth all the way. pic.twitter.com/ABMl325KUE— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) January 5, 2017
It's a good thing the did, too, because Jhonas Enroth did... this and Scott Kosmachuk took advantage to put Manitoba back within one. Thankfully for the Marlies, who turned an 18-11 first period shot deficit into a 35-32 total in their favour by the final buzzer, none of Manitoba's last-ditch efforts found the back of the net, giving Toronto a much needed victory.
The most notable part of these two games for Leafs fans may not have been the attempt to get back on form as a team, but Frank Corrado's individual efforts. The 23-year-old defenceman has been the subject of conversation all season for, well, not playing more than a single game this season. The Leafs assigned him to the Marlies on a two-week conditioning stint on Monday, meaning this pair of games were his first out of a possible seven appearances.
Corrado played both games on a pair with left-handed sophomore Rinat Valiev. He impressed in his first game, taking an early tripping penalty but making up for it with a team-lead-sharing five shots on goal.
Scott Glennie makes it 2-1 Manitoba. Active boards! pic.twitter.com/Ze06LE751k— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) January 5, 2017
Corrado was the defender in front of the net for Glennie's goal in the Wednesday game, though Enroth's misplay of the board bounce didn't help the situation much. Beyond that,
Sheldon Keefe noted that the pairing spent "a lot of time" in the offensive zone and that he was key to the team's breakouts. That lined up with the broadcast-driven eye test, where he was constantly involved in the rush and was very happy to aim at the net. His usual gap control was plenty present as well; rarely did he leave a Manitoba attacker in an open, threatening position.
See You Next Time
With the pair of results, the Marlies record moves to 13-16-1-1 on the season. They now have a goal differential that's even, and a points percentage of 0.484; still in major need of improvement. The Marlies will now return home for three consecutive games, the first two of which come on Saturday and Sunday when they take on the Rochester Americans at Ricoh Coliseum at 5:00 PM and 3:00 PM respectively.