Antoine Bibeau needed to have himself a great game tonight. Not because the staff was going to put pressure on him, not because the players needed his support, but for his own confidence. Bibeau looked pretty solid in his appearance that slotted in between Jonathan Bernier’s shutout streak but really needed a second good showing. Tonight, he got that; at least for the first 58 minutes against the Binghamton Senators.
Bibeau stopped the first twenty pucks that he faced tonight. In typical Toronto fashion, they were low-danger and infrequent; the Marlies ended up outshooting Binghamton by in all three periods and by ten on the night. He still had his moments, though, bailing the Marlies out early in the second period and continuing the momentum throughout the balance of the game.
The team gave him a ton of support to in the form of goals from Josh Leivo, Mark Arcobello, and Zach Hyman. Hyman’s was probably the prettiest, in the sense that he picked up his own rebound:
Here’s Hyman’s goal. Assisted by Clune and Carrick. Two to go in the second period. pic.twitter.com/MLuPCrILE7
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) December 17, 2015
This put the Marlies in an easy going position heading into the third period. With two minutes remaining on the clock, Binghamton’s commentators had declared the game over and started to talk about the Marlies’ spot in the standings. The team on the ice wasn’t done, though. Max McCormick and Cole Schneider scored within a minute of each other to cut Toronto’s lead to one with eleven seconds to go.
Not what Bibeau was hoping for, for sure. But at the same time, it was hard to point too many fingers; McCormick’s opportunity came from seemingly out of nowhere and from a relatively close range, while Schneider’s was a screened deflection of a point shot from former Leafs and Marlies defenceman Mike Kostka. Regardless, it led to a tense few seconds at the end. Binghamton pushed for another goal, but ultimately ended up icing the puck and conceding to the Marlies, who left the rink with a 3-2 victory. As for Bibeau, his save percentage bumps up to 0.877 on the year; still near the league’s bottom, but ever so slowly trending back upward.
Down the highway in Lehigh Valley, the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins continued their red-hot run, picking up a 3-0 win over the Phantoms. This means that the Marlies still remain in second in the AHL standings, but as fate would have it, the two teams face each other on Friday night. A win of any kind would reverse the order, and it’ll be William Nylander’s last game before hopping on a plane to Helsinki for the World Juniors, so keep your eyes peeled.