Despite beating the same opposition 6-2 on Thursday evening, Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe was not a happy man during the post game presser. Angry at his teams performance and lack of structure, he said this is not be acceptable and would ultimately cost his team points.
He’s actually been preaching this for a while now and it’s come home to roost in two of the last three games, against bottom ranked teams.
The early signs proved Keefe right as Toronto allowed their hosts to dominate proceedings, resulting in Manitoba registering ten straight shots without response.
It’d take just 47 seconds for the hosts to open the scoring as Toronto’s sloppiness saw them fail to clear the zone properly. A pass from Matt Fraser took three poorly position Toronto players out of the equation and Chase DeLeo went high to beat Garret Sparks.
Sparks almost cost his team a second with poor mismanagement of the puck along the backboard while Rich Clune rescued Nikita Soshnikov after a giveaway in front.
Almost inevitably Toronto took the first penalty of the game but in game filled with power plays, they survived with ease on this occasion. Upon exiting the box, Josh Leivo was the beneficiary of a wayward pass from Manitoba, allowing him to head to the net unattended. His effort rang off Comrie’s left post and away to safety however.
After finally getting their game together, the Marlies drew their first penalty and duly scored.
William Nylander had the puck on a string and had the Manitoba penalty kill bewitched before sliding a pass across to Kasperi Kapanen on his left. Despite mishandling the puck, Kapanen showed composure before rifling home past Eric Comrie.
The second half of the opening frame was all Toronto as they out-shot their hosts 13-1 in the final ten minutes.
An intelligent shot from Hyman produced a rebound of Comrie’s pad for Josh Leivo but the goaltender made a smart stick save to rob him
Nylander was looking somewhere near his imperious best as his speed and ability to seemingly turn on a dime, created issues for the home team’s defense. Kapanen so nearly profiting from one such play from Nylander but no dice.
Toronto drew a second powerplay, almost scoring an identical goal to the first but the effort was blocked. Seconds after the man advantage was over, Loov jumped over the boards and fired a long range shot that deflected off some part of Rich Clune and the puck found it’s way into the net.
After having killed a late penalty themselves, Toronto almost extended the lead to 3-1 but despite Casey Bailey getting behind Comrie, he couldn’t quite find the net with his backhand shot.
A face-off violation from the opening puck drop sent Toronto on their third power play.
A mere twenty seconds into the second period and it was 3-1 as Connor Brown was the recipient of a perfect pass from Stuart Percy. From the left circle and on one knee, Brown smashed his shot past Comrie who failed to get across in time.
The home team responded inside a minute, thanks in part to some sloppy play.
Leivo lost the puck at the Manitoba blue line with a weak pass as he wheeled around the zone.
The Moose were unable to take advantage of the odd-man rush but it mattered little as they kept possession, with J.C Lipon feeding Brassard. Justin Holl failed to block Brassard’s shot or get out of the way and Sparks was unsighted as the puck hit the twine behind him.
Holl almost had a chance to redeem himself as a booming shot from T.J Brennan produced a huge rebound and with Comrie out of position, there was a lot of net to aim at. Manitoba showed nothing if desire in this game and a great play from one of their defenseman poked the puck away from Holl and denied a certain goal.
Another rocket from Brennan hit the foot of Brenden Kichton in front but just eluded Casey Bailey who would have had a tap-in.
A terrific outlet pass from Percy sent Hyman away down the right side and set in motion a fine period of play from Toronto who could have scored through the aforementioned Hyman, Loov and Leivo but Comrie stood tall.
A tripping penalty given to Frattin looked like a gift for the home team and they received it gratefully.
A beautiful cross crease feed from Lipon was banged past Sparks by John Albert to tie the game at three.
The officials now had to call everything after the previous decision and it was Toronto’s turn to receive a dubious tripping judgment. They would have some good looks but were unable to beat Comrie on this occasion. A scrum as the period ended would somehow result in Toronto receiving the only penalty and it would prove an expensive decision once more.
Brennan handed the only penalty and he would be joined by Campbell after 90 seconds of the third period had elapsed. Another tripping call that was as debateable as any other decision made in this game.
Toronto killed the 30 seconds when down by two men but that second penalty proved decisive as Chase DeLeo finally scored on a mad scramble after Sparks had made three stops in front but was unable to corral the puck.
Toronto weren’t playing well enough or with any conviction to have any case against the poor officiating. They have more than enough in their locker to dominate a struggling Manitoba team when they put their minds to it and that’s just what happened six minutes into the third period.
A sustained spell of controlled possession hemmed the home team back in their own zone and the Marlies earned themselves a power play. Soshnikov was like a battering ram as he drove to the net but he ran out of the real estate. Doing enough to keep the play in motion however, Leivo would end up with the puck on his stick and set-up Soshnikov to score his 17th goal of the season.
A tense scrum after the goal meant both teams were down to four men for two minutes. Holl fired wide on his opportunity while a frustrated Brennan watched Kichton block his shot.
Julian Melchiori looked certain to score but his double attempts were denied by Sparks.
The last penalty of the game would send Manitoba back on the man advantage and they re-took the lead just ten seconds into the power play. A shot from the point set in motion what looked like pinball wizard in front of Sparks with Lipon finally ending the scramble by potting his ninth of the season..
Toronto weren’t for beating in regulation and once again this season the offensive firepower bailed them out. Leivo drove to the net but had to dive to shift the puck across the crease. Sneaking around the cage from the other side was Nylander and he was on hand to even the proceedings at 5-5 with a little under four minutes to play.
The Marlies would look the likelier to win in regulation, no more so than in the last 45 seconds but it was off to overtime for the second time in three games.
OT would prove a microcosm of the game and Toronto’s performance.
The Marlies controlled a lot of possession but were kept at bay by the hard working Moose.
The winning goal came with 50 seconds left on the clock. Lipon leading the rush and finding Josh Morrissey on the left who wasn’t covered efficiently by Leivo. That enabled the Moose defenseman to send a tape to tape pass to Nic Petan who had time and space with Connor Brown of all people totally missing his assignment. Petan’s first time shot went in via the post and pandemonium ensued as Manitoba broke a nine game losing streak and recorded their first win of the season against Toronto.
It was no more than the home team deserved for one of their better outings when facing Toronto as the Marlies paid the price for yet another underwhelming performance.
Post Game Notes:
The tying goal and two assists for William Nylander as he hit the forty point mark in thirty games.
Josh Leivo recorded his third straight multi-point game.
A goal and an assist for Kasperi Kapanen who is at point per game point since retuning from the World Juniors.
No goals or points for T.J Brennan despite firing a season high five shots on net.
Garret Sparks has given up six goals in consecutive starts.
This is the first game Toronto has lost when leading after the first period, 15-0-1-0.
Toronto tied their season high for power play goals scored (three), both for and against.
An overtime loss extends Toronto’s point streak to eight games.