The perfect end to a perfect weekend for the Toronto Marlies, as they blasted nine goals without reply past a forlorn looking Manitoba Moose.
The cascade of goals were just reward for a weekend of consistently high play, perhaps their best run of form this season.
As in Saturday’s match-up between these two teams at Ricoh, Toronto bemoaned a lack of luck in front of goal despite utter domination. A shot from Nylander on the power play produced a rebound that somehow eluded everyone in white.
Back at even strength Freddie Gauthier and his entire line were having quite the game, and despite not scoring, a round of applause rand around the ACC after a terrific shift that penned the visitors in their own zone.
Nylander provided Soshnikov with a chance but a post denied the latter while Leivo was denied by a desperate save from Jussi Olkinuora.
Unlike yesterday, the Marlies would not have to wait over forty minutes for the breakthrough.
Clune teed up Campbell who saw his first effort blocked, before a weaker second effort seemed to hit one defender, then another before finding it’s way into the net. A lucky goal perhaps, but a justified opener that commenced the entry of over a thousand teddy bears of all shapes and sizes, over the glass and onto the ice, as the Toronto public showed their generosity.
There may have been a long wait before play got back underway but the Marlies made sure the fans were cheering again less than four minutes later. Whilst killing a penalty, Mark Arcobello chipped the puck past the last line of Manitoba’s defense and Rich Clune of all people was racing to collect the loose puck. Turning on the jets, he beat the on-rushing Olkinuora to the puck, rounding him before slotting into the wide open cage.
In-between those two goals it was all action and Bailey came close with a wraparound effort, Carrick dropped the gloves with Raffl and put down his man, while Bernier’s kick save on the penalty kill eventually led to the second marker.
Panik almost made it 3-0 after leaving the box on a breakaway but this time Olkinuora redeemed himself with a fantastic save from Panik’s backhand effort.
Toronto’s second power play of the opening period would see them take a three goal lead into the middle frame. Nylander finding Leivo down by the left side of the net, and in the play of the game, the latter made a no look, reverse backhand pass to Arcobello waiting the other side of the crease for the easy tap-in.
Just two goals in the second frame but plenty of action at Toronto fired 16 shots.
It was the visitors who began the period better but it took just 2:43 for the Marlies to tally their fourth.
Stuart Percy going coast-to-coast down the left wing, seeing his shot turned aside, but with the Manitoba goaltender admiring the save he failed to move quickly enough as the puck bounced off the backboards and out the other side for Casey Bailey to fire home with half a net to aim at.
Les than six minutes had elapsed before it was 5-0. Leipsic on a partial breakaway down the right side and his perfectly placed shot found a gap between pad and glove.
Leivo and Carrick came close to adding to the lead before Bernier was finally called upon.
A series of three straight saves and none better than coming out quickly to cut down the angle as Jan Kostalek had a good look on an outnumbered rush. Bernier sent the effort high into the netting to deny Manitoba any joy.
Josh Leivo was having himself quite the impressive game as the Toronto hierarchy looked on and on a breakaway late in the period, he made a great move on the Moose goaltender but credit Olkinuora who made a fine toe save.
Everyone from GM’s and coaches, to media and fans harp on about a sixty minute effort. Toronto may have been forgiven for a let down in the third period but they never stopped pouring the pressure on a tired looking Manitoba team.
Two goals inside the opening five minutes of the final frame extended the lead to 7-0
Panik was able to chip the puck down the right side and the Moose had a complete meltdown as they allowed Leivo to get away and fire home from the right face-off dot over the shoulder of Olkinuora.
The top line for Toronto was dynamite and combined for the next. Nylander working around his man down the left side, before working back up the wall, finding Leivo who then produced a peach of a pass to Panik who frankly couldn’t miss all alone in front.
In-between times Hyman almost got his name on the score sheet while Bernier kept his shutout effort intact by denying Patrice Cormier after a giveaway by Arcobello.
The eight tally came with eight minutes remaining, Nylander deflecting a shot by Leivo with the shaft of his stick, finding the tiniest gap through the five-hole of Olkinuora.
There was barely a whistle as Manitoba just wanted this game to end in a hurry but they would allow a ninth and final goal with 59 seconds to play.
Gauthier looking to find a team mate in front with a pass from the goal line, saw his intended feed take a deflection and hit the twine via the right arm of the unfortunate Olkinuora.
It finished 9-0 and the score line failed to flatter a Toronto team that could have easily hit double figures and broken yet more franchise records in the process.
Post Game Notes:
Nine different goal scorers, while Frattin, Soshnikov and Bernier were the only players NOT to register a point in what was a fantastic team performance.
Josh Leivo was a standout and for the second time this season recorded a four point game. All three of his assists were primary and he sits at PPG pace through 21 games.
William Nylander registered three points and now sits at 29 for the season, continuing to lead all AHL scorers.
Jonathan Bernier recorded his second shutout of the weekend and as Friday, despite not a ton of action, was very good when called upon. The way his team-mates once again mobbed him after the game tells you everything you need to know about this group and Bernier’s fantastic attitude to this conditioning stint.
Andrew Campbell scored his sixth goal of the season and tallied his tenth point. Toronto now have twelve players who have reached the double figure mark in points, including three defenseman.
The Toronto Marlies lead the AHL standings as of Sunday evening and have scored a remarkable 96 goals in 24 games.