Photo Credit: Christian Bonin/TSGPhoto.com
The Toronto Marlies came in tonight in a position that most teams would love to be in; they had home-ice advantage in a potential series-clinching game. The Albany Devils were short quite a few of their top players, and Toronto had outscored their opponents 12-3 in the two games prior. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, not a ton went right for them. Despite their best efforts, the Blue and White dropped a less dirty but just as chippy Game 6 by a score of 4-1, leaving the series to be decided on a weekday night in downtown Toronto.
The Devils came out and took the bulk of the first wave of shots, as they have in most of the games between the two teams. They found success as a result; a loose puck in front of Antoine Bibeau landed on Reid Boucher’s stick and in the back of the net soon after to open the scoring for Albany. Just 49 seconds later, Corbin McPherson’s shot from the point also found its way into the mesh, putting the Devils up by a pair with only 5:13 on the clock. Toronto pushed back, but most of their efforts were met enough clogging of the lanes to keep the puck away from Scott Wedgewood.
Kasperi Kapanen broke the trend midway through the second period. The young Finn was already in the midst of a strong, 200-foot shift which saw him create an opportunity in one zone while breaking one up in the other, but in his return to his preferred net, he had no problem blasting home a one-timer set up by Stuart Percy in the slot. The high was short-lived, though, as Nick Lappin took advantage of a confused Connor Carrick and restored his team’s multi-goal lead.
Toronto really poured it on in the third period, giving Wedgewood everything they could, to the point of leaving him sprawling at times and without a stick at others. As close as their chances got, though, they couldn’t find an opportunity that involved an opening and an available shooter. Albany were a bit luckier, though; another McPherson point shot ended up far from the goal but bounced in a way that gave Graham Black all the time in the world to add further insurance.
The Marlies pulled out all the stops in trying to close the gap, even going as far as pulling Antoine Bibeau out for an extra attacker with over six minutes to go. A penalty to Damon Severson gave them one last chance to push, but they weren’t able to convert on it, or bring themselves any closer before the final buzzer.
The loss tonight means that this series will be decided by a winner-take-all Game 7. It’s not a spot that the league’s best team expected to be in this soon, but how they got there is the last thing that should be on their mind’s now; a dominant record is meaningless once you’re eliminated, and needing the full distance to close out is forgotten about once you advance. The series will find its winner on Monday night at Ricoh Coliseum puck drop is at 7:30 PM.