The Toronto Marlies, slightly reconfigured, stepped onto home ice tonight for the first time in this postseason. With Kasperi Kapanen back from his NHL tour of duty and Kasimir Kaskisuo making his Toronto playoff debut in goal, the Marlies eked out a 3-2 overtime victory to bring them to within one game of moving onto the second round.
Here's that sweet Kapanen to Leipsic 1-0 goal from earlier. pic.twitter.com/KNHSULJ7vw
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) April 27, 2017
Toronto was first to strike in this one, and fittingly, it involved their newly-returned superstar. Kapanen corralled the result of a Travis Dermott point shot, and with his backhand, found an open Brendan Leipsic just four minutes into the game. The lead didn’t last very long, though; John Quenneville capped off a creative play his teammates to tie the game back up just six minutes later.
History appeared to repeat itself late in the second period, as Leipsic buried his second of the game with two minutes remaining in the frame, only to have Carter Camper respond with a goal of his own not even thirty seconds later.
This set up for a third period where nobody scored, but Toronto was lucky to escape without conceding. The Marlies took three penalties over the course of the period, none more important than a too many men call with less than two minutes to go in the period. The Marlies pushed through, though, and killed off the bulk of the penalty en route to forcing overtime.
The Marlies made sure that those who waited for the fourth period didn’t have to stick around very long after puck drop. Just seconds after killing off the penalty, Justin Holl launched a pass up to Colin Greening, who, in his words “closed [his] eyes and shot”, ripping a wrister past McKenzie Blackwood to win the game for the home squad.
It was a solid overall effort for Toronto. While the Devils had stretches of momentum, and giving up as many penalty kills as they did in the third period won’t be acceptable down the stretch, the Marlies always found a way to pull the game close when needed. Their star players in Leipsic and Kapanen shined; despite this being Kapanen’s seventh game in two weeks and sixth to go to overtime, he was still the strongest skater on the ice throughout.
Kaskisuo also deserves a lot of credit for his performance tonight. While having him start in the playoffs wasn’t the preferred option for the team, stopping 27 of 29 is a very strong and appreciated performance from the 2016 NCAA signing.
With the win, the Marlies improve to 2-1 in the series, now giving them two opportunities to clinch on home ice. Their first chance will come on Friday night, at Ricoh, at 7:00 PM.