An impressive performance and victory Friday night was all but forgotten in a mostly abject showing Sunday afternoon in Albany.
Toronto looked and played like a tired road team, but Albany, also playing a 3-in-3 weekend and without key players, seemed to find more jump when it really mattered.
The opening twenty minutes felt more like boxers sizing each other up without being inclined to throw a punch in anger.
Alex Stalock was making his second start and 61 seconds in did well to cling onto a long range shot that he found through traffic.
The Marlies were having some possession but doing little with it, allowing Scott Wedgewood too easy a time between the pipes.
Albany should really have struck first at the first minute mark after a turnover handed them a 2-on-1 break. Ryan Kujawinski faked the pass and tried to bank the puck in behind Stalock who made a smart left toe save to deny him.
Toronto were handed a power play after a delay of game but were unable to make hay on the free opportunity. A couple of effort were fired on net, but neither looked like beating Wedgewood and Albany cleared the rebounds before the visitors could respond.
The lack of chances was evident was the shot-clock favouring the Marlies 4-2 with eight minutes left of the first period.
Stalock would be forced into making a save a soccer goalkeeper would be proud of after losing his stick in traffic, as the game became more physical.
The Marlies best, if not sole clear chance of the period came as Josh Leivo broke with Matt Frattin on an odd man rush. The former sent a cross ice feed to the latter but Frattin was hauled back as he attempted to fire past Wedgewood.
The resulting power play proved fruitless, as would a third straight opportunity that carried over into the second period.
The middle frame would see Toronto take an early lead but ultimately play some poor and ill disciplined hockey. Sam Carrick stripped the puck from an opponent just outside the Marlies blue line and immediately found Brendan Leipsic. The winger dished the puck off to Frattin down the left, who weighed up his options before letting rip a shot that Wedgewood did well to stop. The rebound however fell in front and Leipsic, whop had driven to the net, was on hand to roof home the second opportunity.
That’s as good as it got and Stalock had to deny another odd man rush for Albany, this time turned aside Max Novak.
A double minor, Doherty the guilty party, put Toronto on the back-foot but they would survive only to head right back on the penalty kill a minute later. Once again the penalty kill unit stood tall and towards the end some impressive play from Connor Brown ran down the final seconds of the penalty and drew one for his team.
Just once chance for the Marlies but a missed opportunity as Leivo’s shot was blocked and Carrick fired the rebound just wide with Leipsic almost directing the effort back on net.
A fourth penalty taken by Toronto would prove their undoing despite Stalock’s best efforts.
Two fine saves went to waste as twice the Marlies failed to clear their zone and a resulting scramble in front ended with Raman Hrabarenka getting the final touch past Stalock.
Kasperi Kapanen would then be guilty of a ridiculous cross checking penalty, the fifth infraction by the Marlies in just 14 and a half minutes of the second period. It took mere seconds for the home team to take the lead.
Hrabarenka the beneficiary of a huge rebound and he made no mistake to put his team ahead 2-1.
Albany were now firmly on top and dominated at even strength and will probably feel they should have increased their advantage heading into the intermission.
Brown and Leivo tried to combine early in the third period but the former’s short side effort was dealt with comfortably by Wedgewood.
Toronto appeared a tired team and a tying marker looked an unlikely prospect.
Enter into the fray, Eric Faille.
T.J Brennan found Faille with a smart outlet pass and he appeared remarkably fresh as he sped down the right wing. The right winger did enough to tempt the Devil’s goaltender out his crease enough before scooting around the back of cage and scoring with a fine wraparound goal.
Despite going close on one occasion, yet another power play for Toronto would go to waste and with it probably their best opportunity of winning in regulation.
Albany responded by collecting themselves and began to control the play as they did at the back end of the second period. Stalock held firm with solid saves and it looked like he would earn his team-mates at least a point. That sadly would not be the case thanks to a calamitous 15 seconds of play.
Turning the puck over with a pass up the middle of their own zone, the Marlies were left chasing the play and left Nick Lappin alone in front to receive a pass from Matt Lorita. Lappin manoeuvred the puck around Stalock and finished with a deft chip over the goaltenders pads with 40 seconds remaining.
Toronto wouldn’t even record a shot in the time left and fell to a 3-2 road defeat that left much to be desired.
Post Game Notes:
Toronto fired just three efforts on net in the final period. The 19 shots taken overall is the Marlies lowest total this season.
Alex Stalock made 21 saves on his second start and again the team failed to turn up in front of him.
Certainly not at fault and was a steadying presence when Marlies were under siege.
Brendan Leipsic’s goal was his 17th of the season. The winger has six points during a four game point streak.
Matt Frattin recorded an assist and extends his point streak to four games.
Mark Arcobello was scratched due to illness for the second straight game.