Two weeks ago, the Toronto Marlies rolled into Binghamton on the back of a 8-2 victory in Rochester.
They were outplayed and physically manhandled by a B-Sens team historically strong at home, and the Marlies lost 5-1 with their tails firmly between their legs.
A lot can happen in 15 days however, Binghamton having lost four straight, Toronto on a four match winning streak and the boys in blue handed their hosts a beating to erase the aforementioned defeat.
Toronto kept the home crowd quiet during the first part of an opening period that would fail to see either side break the deadlock.
Frattin, Valiev and Soshnikov all firing efforts inside the opening two minutes as the Marlies made a far better beginning to this game than they did in Utica.
A snapshot from Nylander brought out the best in young Matt O’Connor between the pipes for Binghamton and saw the hosts respond with their best play of the period. Lots of time in the Marlies zone but just one shot on net as Toronto shored up things defensively.
A second Marlies power play just before the twelve minute marker would come up short and within 2:20 they would be down two men as Percy and Valiev were sent to the box within 20 seconds of one another.
Sparks was excellent without being spectacular and Soshnikov came close to tallying to a short-handed marker as the penalty kill did a fantastic job of denying the Senators.
Two efforts from Arcobello, both denied by O’Connor, and a shot from McCormick, turned aside by Sparks would be the closest either team would come to scoring before the first intermission.
Ryan Dzingel would be denied by Sparks a buck fifteen into the middle frame and shortly after the Marlies broke the tie.
Leivo sliding the puck to Nylander down the left wing and for once the Swedish centre man headed directly for the net, sniping home from inside the left circle with a shot that pinged in off the far post.
Toronto were having trouble staying out of the box but they were creating chances short-handed as the Binghamton power play turned into off-the-rush chances for both teams. Gauthier with a double effort and Nylander were both denied and Toronto should have done far better with a 3 on 1 break.
Back at even strength the Marlies doubled their lead. Valiev with a darting move into the Sens zone, dropping the puck on the right side for Bailey who wasted no time in centering to Campbell jumping into the play. The Captain made a nice little toe-drag move before firing past O‘Connor, possibly via a deflection from just above the hash marks.
With six minutes remaining of the second period, Campbell would fall awkwardly trying to make a diving play to deny a Dzingel breakaway. He was half successful but Sparks would still have to pull off a fantastic save to keep the two goal lead intact. Campbell however would leave the ice with what could be a muscle injury.
Binghamton’s reputation as a physical team that stretch the rules was there for everyone to see and Lepine elbowed Leivo up against the boards. The resultant power play amounted to nothing but Justin Johnson was on the ice as Lepine exited the box and the two would drop the gloves. Johnson taking some early shots before responding with rapid-fire punches and recording the take-down.
I’m no fan of fighting without reason and Johnson was perfectly justified in supporting Leivo and the team in this instance, sending the right message. Back to even strength and Toronto recorded a third goal before the second intermission horn. Freddie Gauthier chipping the puck past the benches with the B-Sens in the process of making a change. Panik took control of the puck down the right side and despite it being an odd man rush, with Leivo as support, Panik rifled home his second on the year.
The final twenty minutes was full of action and incident, and I for one was glad there were four officials in position for this game. Yet again Toronto would find themselves on the penalty kill early in the period but for the first time this season would score short-handed. Zach Hyman winning the odd-man battle on the right side of the back boards. He headed straight for the blue paint and batted home his own rebound for his first professional and Marlies goal to make it 4-1
Sparks’ shutout bid would be ruined at the 6:16 mark as the ever dangerous Dzingel, probably Binghamton’s best player in this tilt, was on the spot to go top shelve on a rebound effort.
A minute later and the same Binghamton forward had the chance to halve the deficit as a turnover from Valiev sent him away on a breakaway but Sparks was there once again when it mattered. The Marlies refused to sit on their laurels and made it 5-1 at the midway point. Carrick with the offensive face-off win and T.J Brennan blasted home from the left side.
At this point it was about getting through this game unscathed as Binghamton players were taking runs at players and looking for trouble at every blown whistle. Gauthier responding to Ewanyk’s “efforts” in front of Sparks, both heading to the box, though the Marlies ending up with the power play. Another Brennan blast made it 6-1 and that would end the scoring.
The game turned into a penalty fest, Stortini throwing his weight around, Carrick’s standing up to him but receiving a match penalty in the process.
For the most part, Toronto showed good control of their emotions and kept their heads under provocation. No more so than when the result of this game had long been determined.
A big part of the learning process and maturity for these young guys.
Post Games Notes:
Goaltenders aren’t often talked about for the winning team when the scoreline is so lopsided but Sparks was excellent in making 34 saves. He’s sending a message with Bibeau up with the Leafs right now.
T.J Brennan’s first multi-goal game of the season and is now fully up to speed offensively at PPG pace.
Andrew Campbell continues to score and it still amazes me that he didn’t score much before coming to Toronto. He owns a terrific shot and is showing incredible poise and accuracy from shooting positions now.
William Nylander is on a five game point streak and has 14 points in twelve games, good enough for fourth in the AHL.
Mark Arcobello’s least influential game so far but still picked up an assist to keep his points streak going.
Richard Panik continues to produce in batches with his ten points coming in five games. A brace for him tonight.
Sam Carrick picked up an assist in his first game back off a three game suspension. With another major penalty assessed against him tonight, he may well be facing another suspension.
The scoring was shared around with eleven different players registering at least a point as the four lines continue to roll and produce.