While the Maple Leafs try their very best to lose to the Buffalo Sabres, the Toronto Marlies are gunning for victories. Lots of them. As many as they can get, really, as they push towards a playoff spot that nobody expected them to even approach. Tonight, they continued to chase the dream, taking on the Leigh Valley Phantoms in rare weekday evening game.
This game started with the Marlies having complete control, to the point where they took seven of the first eight shots. Shot number seven appeared to be the lucky one, as Byron Froese squeaked a snipe past Rob Zepp to open the scoring. The Phantoms didn’t just sit around, however, particularly Nick Cousins. A little past the period’s midway point, the 21 year old AHL sophomore tied the game, and with 8.4 seconds remaining in the period, he struck again, giving the Phantoms the lead.
Late in the second period, the Marlies saw their hibernating powerplay unit finally re-awaken. With 2:02 left in the second period, Matt Frattin scored to make it 2-2 (say that two times fast). While Toronto hadn’t played particularly poorly in the first period, the goal gave them the ability to go all-in for the third period.
A minute and a half into the third period, Andrew Gordon planted himself in front of Christopher Gibson during a Phantoms powerplay, and with just enough room to avoid a goaltender interference call, provided a good enough screen for Jason Akeson’s shot to cross the line and restore Leigh Valley’s lead. The Marlies pushed to get the equalizer, but following a puck misplay and an failed attempt at recovery, Cousin’s was awarded a penalty shot. He made no mistake, deking and going backhand to earn himself the hat trick.
In the dying seconds of regulation, William Nylander gave the crowd something to cheer about, ripping a wicked wrister into the preferred mesh. However, despite Toronto’s best efforts, they weren’t able to equalize.
William Nylander is starting to heat up, from the looks of it. A goal and an assist tonight bring him to 14 points in 20 games, not to mention a team co-leading four shots on goal. It’s no surprise that the points are coming as he gets more acclimated to the North American game.
- Christopher Gibson started in goal for the Marlies tonight, and made 26 saves on 30 shots. Not an overly impressive performance by him, but those were some pretty tricky goals against. Hard to fault a guy for getting perfectly screened
- I really would have liked to give Greg McKegg some recognition for getting unusually aggressive and pest-y today, but two of his penalties against lead to goals against.
- Going 1/6 on the powerplay is, relatively speaking, an improvement, but still not very good. Allowing goals on half of your penalty kills, on the other hand, probably costs you the game.
- The Marlies play their next game on on Saturday, against the Flames in Adirondack. Puck drop is at 7.