Photo Credit: Christian Bonin/TSGPhoto.com
While all winning streaks are meant to be broken, this was the time where you would have least suspected it. After all, the Toronto Marlies’ 36-8-2 came with a points percentage nearly double of the Binghamton Senators’ 0.417. The Marlies were atop the AHL, while the Sens were at the bottom of the east. Despite all of this, some unfortunate defensive gaffes and a rough break in overtime delivered Toronto’s first loss in a span of six games.
The Marlies looked relatively good to start this game, pouring on the shots and receiving the initial upper hand courtesy of Josh Leivo, who turned a setup from Connor Brown into a knee-drop one-timer for his twelfth goal of the season. It was an initial high for the team though David Dziurzynski quickly responded with a goal for Binghamton to equalize.
Here’s Josh Leivo’s second of the game pic.twitter.com/5yPYq3mlCl
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) January 30, 2016
Leivo was a man on a mission tonight, though. He started off the second period with a deadly wrister to put the Marlies back ahead and sprayed at the net repeatedly in search of a personal hat trick and team insurance. He didn’t get the former, but with former Marlies defenceman Mike Kostka in the box, he set up Mark Arcobello for his eighteenth of the season, putting the Marlies up 3-1.
That lead wasn’t meant to be, however. Ryan Dzignel responded with his own powerplay goal just moments later, and in the first minute of the third period, Eric O’Dell tied the game up. The Sens didn’t stop there, either. Noticing that Garret Sparks was having far from his best night, they poured on every opportunity they could and took their first lead in the game courtesy of a shorthanded goal from Cole Schneider.
Much like the Senators matched a powerplay goal with a powerplay goal, the Marlies did the same with a shorthanded tally. Rinat Valiev took a risk by pushing to the net while a man short, but it was a risk that ended in a feed to Zach Hyman to restore balance. The game looked lost with four minutes to go when Colin Greening put the Senators ahead once again, but the ever-so-trigger happy Marlies got another fine offensive effort from Brown, who scored his third goal since coming back to the team four games ago.
Like, I’m not usually one to call out questionable refereeing, but this is pretty blatant. pic.twitter.com/b0KXQ5UHcn
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) January 31, 2016
As mentioned in the beginning, this game ended in questionable heartbreak. It’s hard to know how much the referees saw of Zach Hyman on the end sequence, but what appeared from the press box to be an obvious trip went unnoticed. As he fell, the puck landed right on the stick of Tobias Lindberg, who took advantage of the breakaway to beat Sparks for the winner.
While Sparks has been neck and neck with Matt Murray as the league’s top goaltender while down with the Marlies, this is probably a night that he’d like to have back. Six goals against on 29 shots isn’t a good look, and a few of the pucks he let through him would typically be routine saves. Sparks also struggled in his first appearance against the Sens in October, in which he gave up five in an extremely rare blowout loss. History implies he’ll rebound from the effort, but tonight, it may have cost the team a standings point.
While Josh Leivo, William Nylander, and TJ Brennan will travel with Sheldon Keefe to the AHL All-Star festivities, the rest of the team gets a few days off. Their next game is in Winnipeg, as they take on the Manitoba Moose on Thursday. Puck drop is at 8:00 PM.