If ever there was a game where the score line failed to tell the true story, then this was it.
The Toronto Marlies dominated their Binghamton hosts through the entirety of the game and were worthy of victory by a far bigger margin.
The Marlies tested rookie goaltender Matt O’Connor early as he did well to hang on to a blast from Scott Harrington.
Opportunities were few and far between and Binghamton clogged up the neutral zone as much as possible, trying to deny the visitors the chance to generate much speed.
William Nylander was frustrated as his weak backhand effort from a decent position was easily stopped by O’Connor.
Just three shots for Toronto at the midway marker and the first powerplay resulted in not effort on target but a glorious chance did go begging. Carrick was found with a beautiful pass as he crossed the blue line with speed. He seemed to have O’Connor beat as he went across the goaltender, but failed to hit the net with the backhand effort.
The best shift of the opening period would see the deadlock finally broken with just over three minutes to play. Moving the puck with speed from their own zone, Nylander would go close on a rebound effort from Richard Panik. The loose puck fell to the boards and should have been cleared but Nylander did not give up and gratefully received possession from Eric O’Dell, and found Leivo in front. Turning and firing in one movement, Leivo’s powerful shot just had enough juice to force it’s way past O’Connor.
Clune came close to doubling the score with a nice wrist shot using a B-Sens defenseman as a screen but Toronto would take just a one goal lead into the middle frame.
Some sloppy play from the Marlies in their own end gave cause for a little concern in the early going.
Kyle Flanagan the beneficiary in front but Antoine Bibeau stone-walled the left handed forward who tried to go backhand on him.
Toronto responded with a rush from Ryan Rupert, but O’Connor followed in Bibeau’s footsteps with a fine save.
Before the game slipped away from them in the second period, Binghamton were gifted another great chance to level the game.
Ryan Dzingel and Max McCormick were on the odd-man rush with just Rinat Valiev for company. The rookie defenseman doing well to deny the passing lane to Dzingel and Bibeau did the rest as he saved the effort with a flash of his glove.
Ryan Rupert was flying around the ice in this game, desperate to make an impression after his recall. His line with Clune and Rodewald were dominate just before the Marlies scored their second on a tired looked group of Binghamton players.
Harrington slid the puck across the blue line into the wheelhouse of T.J Brennan to release a trademark shot. The resulting rebound dropped to the left of O’Connor and Mark Arcobello showed determination to get to the puck first before showing class to fire top shelf to double the Marlies lead.
There could and should have been more goals in the second period, but wasted good positions and power plays meant just one more would be added to the score line. Zach Hyman was allowed to drift in alone from the right side, and although his initial effort hit team-mate Clune in front, the rebound fell kindly for Hyman to put home into an empty cage without a Binghamton player to stop him.
A late shot from Buddy Robinson would make sure Bibeau was alert as the buzzer sounded, just the 12th shot the Toronto goalie had faced at that point.
The Marlies powerplay was totally ineffective and wasted another opportunity early in the third period.
The penalty kill would then have to go to work on two straight occasions, one diving stop to his right from Bibeau was all that was needed to keep the Senators off the board however.
Despite a lot of possession, Toronto weren’t creating much in the way of quality scoring chances and just one sharp wrist shot from Leivo tested O’Connor.
As the period wound down, almost inevitably Binghamton became more physical and altercations were more frequent. Clune did a good job to take down noted enforcer Zack Storotini, meaning neither would return for the duration of the game.
Antoine Bibeau would be robbed of his shutout bid with just over a minute left in regulation.
Brendan Leipsic was guilty of coughing up the puck and the resultant play ended with Robinson somehow missing a yawning cage. The puck was kept alive however and with a ton of traffic in front of Bibeau, McCormick was adjudged to have scored. The home team pulled their netminder as they sniffed an unlikely comeback and after Leivo missed the empty net with a long range effort, a second goal was quick in coming. Winning the resulting offensive zone face-off, Mike Kostka wasted no chance in firing a wicked shot that was tipped home by Cole Schneider for his tenth of the season.
Toronto were able to hold on for the final twelve seconds to ensure their 13th road victory of the season.
Post Game Notes:
Josh Leivo’s goal was his 100th point as a member of the Toronto Marlies.
Attained in his 140th game and 42 of those points are goals.
Mark Arcobello registered his tenth goal of the season, his third tally in five games.
William Nylander recorded his 20th assist of the season, taking his points tally to 34.
The energy, drive and commitment the fourth line showed tonight meant they were very noticeable every time they hit the ice. Seven shots on net registered by that line, Rodewald with four of those.
With a shortage of fit bodies right now, Clune-R.Rupert-Rodewald could be a combination that sticks together for a while.