Photo Credit: Christian Bonin/TSGPhoto.com
Hot off the heels of a game where they finally found some success at even strength, the Toronto Marlies looked to continue a climb up the standings against the very same Rochester Americans that they defeated 5-0 hours before. While they did manage to squeak out a point, the result wasn’t quite what they wanted, as it all ended in a 4-3 overtime defeat.
— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) January 8, 2017
Toronto’s issues started early in the first period when Nick Baptiste batted in his own rebound to give Rochester the first of a group of goals they lacked yesterday., just five minutes into regulation. That lead was short-lived, though, as Kasperi Kapanen created himself an unassisted breakaway goal three minutes later, and Colin Smith soon followed with his sixth of the season, making the most of an opportunity in the slot.
The Amerks responded diligently on the scoresheet in the second period, thanks to two unlikely team heroes. Casey Nelson potted his third of the year within the opening two minutes while Kerby Rychel sat in the box, and eight minutes later, Justin Vaive trickled one in off a faceoff and through Bibeau’s five-hole to put Rochester back in the lead. It was an advantage that they had throughout the second, and carried into the third.
Toronto made all the efforts they could to equalize in the final frame of regulation, pouring 22 shots on John Muse and sending Bibeau to the bench with nearly five minutes to go. As they did that, though, Brady Auston was called for a trip, giving them a significantly less risky man advantage to work with. Forty seconds later, that turned into a second goal for Kapanen, who roofed a loose puck to earn his sixteenth tally of the season.
That sent the game to overtime, and for the first few seconds, most of that action was in the neutral zone. The Amerks took great advantage of their first opportunity, though, as Baptiste took a quality shot that led to both a rebound and Mac Bennet calmly skating around Bibeau and depositing the game-winner.
With the loss, Toronto falls to 15-16-2-1 on the season; because the loss came in overtime, though, their points percentage actually perks up a little to 0.485. That’s beneficial in their push to catch up to Syracuse, Albany, and St. John’s, but because they gave up two points to Rochester, the gap between 4th and 6th in the division has closed ever tighter.
Their next matchup comes against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Wednesday night. That’ll be an interesting one from a strict style of play perspective; while the two teams have a huge spread in the standings (WBS is first overall at 0.750), the two teams have been the second and third best in late-game shot differential in the league this year. Expect this to be closer played than it should appear, though result is to be determined.