This whole post game could be written using CAPS LOCK given the nature of this North Division match-up. Neither team played with any consistency or defensively sound hockey in their own end, in a game which both coaches were probably tearing their hair out.
The opening twenty minutes perfectly encapsulated the whole game.
Toronto lost a battle deep in the Utica zone and in the blink of an eye the home team sprung away on a 2 on 1 break. Fedun with the outlet pass finding Hamilton, who ignored his trailing team mate to fire past Sparks. The Marlies responded in 42 seconds. Brennan driving into the Utica zone on the right side and dropping the puck back for Casey Bailey, whose one-timer beat a screened Jacob Markstrom.
Toronto responded to tying the game up with yet another brain fart. Grenier with the long outlet pass on this occasion, finding Gaunce in acres of space and he mad no mistake for his second of the season on the breakaway opportunity. Three goals inside two minutes with just 7:27 on the clock.
It was the turnover, giveaway and gaffs show for both teams, especially for Toronto who showed a real propensity for turnover the puck over deep inside their own zone. I lost count but the figure was definitely in double figures.
Nylander would garner the next best opportunity for Toronto with eight to play but his breakaway amounted to nothing. A minute later on the power play and he was the architect with a cross crease pass for Kapanen to fire home.
The Marlies would kill a late penalty before taking the lead for the first time, early in the second period.
T.J Brennan with a long range effort that somehow deceived Markstrom, made it 3-2 Toronto.
The road team had their best stretch of play following the go-ahead goal.
The Soshnikov-Gauthier-Bailey line was causing Utica all kinds of problems, while a rush by Frattin down the right side came within an inch of teeing up Rupert for a tap-in goal with Markstrom out of position. Toronto’s penalty kill was excellent and upon coming out of the box, Valiev made the heads-up play in a drop pass to Arcobello but his booming effort was denied by Markstrom.
It was back to old ways after that however as Sparks had to be excellent to bail his team out after consecutive giveaways in front of his net. A feisty game from the outset, things became heated at the end of the middle frame. Kapanen showed great speed and awareness to find Arcobello, who beat his man before seeing Markstrom equal to his effort. A terrible hit from Shinkaruk on the play, called an elbow by the officials, set off a chain of events I can only describe as chaos.
Stuart Percy ending up trading blows with Grenier while Just Holl was bombarded by Pedan in a one-sided tilt. The three officials took a long time to calm down the situation, which rolled on for what seemed an eternity and would end with the Marlies on an ultimately unsuccessful power play.
The final twenty minutes of regulation could not have begun in worse fashion.
Brennan turning over the bouncing puck and Zalewski helped himself, firing over the shoulder of Garret Sparks with 1:02 played.
After killing a resultant penalty, Toronto then had a fantastic opportunity to re-take the lead.
With Pedan in the box and Friesen off for a double minor, the Marlies had a two man advantage for 43 seconds and then three minutes of a 5 on 4 if required. Markstrom would commit larceny to rob Nylander as the first penalty came to an end and then Frattin hooked his man, negating most of the remaining advantage. Upon his return to the ice, the Marlies would give up a shorthanded goal.
Travis Ehrhardt was given far too much space behind the net and worked himself a beautiful goal, coming out in front to fire past a helpless Sparks. You couldn’t deny Toronto’s spirit in this game however and just 1:36 later they were level again. Utica allowed Nylander far too much room to take a pass into his stride and from the left of the right face-off dot his shot blitzed past Markstrom.
The Swedish net minder would garner some sort of revenge with 6:45 to play, robbing Nylander on a rebound effort, as we yet again witnessed the brilliance of his ability between the pipes.
Regulation time would see no further scoring, despite the home team penning the Marlies in their own zone for the last two minutes and it would be off to overtime.
The overtime period almost deserves a post game of it’s own. It was the goaltenders who stole the show, both making six saves with other chances missing by mere inches. Sparks bailing his team out in the early part of the overtime period, no more so than with an acrobatic double stop.
In the last two minutes of play, Soshnikov, Leivo, Nylander and Leipsic would all be turned aside by Markstrom on individual efforts and a shoot-out would decide the destination of the extra point.
Shooting second, Arcobello would tally his effort and after Sparks’ fine left pad to turn aside Grenier, Nylander’s marker would seal the win for Toronto.
Post Game Notes:
Kapanen has now scored in consecutive games and takes his tally to four goals.
Casey Bailey had arguable his best game with the Marlies, paired with Soshnikov and Gauthier.
With a pair of points, Nylander now has 12 in eleven games.
Arcobello was unlucky not to score and tallied an assist to keep his points streak going.
Not as good defensively tonight but T.J Brennan recorded his third multi-point game of the season (1G/1A).
Marlies face Binghamton Saturday evening, who themselves fell to defeat in Rochester 3-1.