The Toronto Marlies found themselves in a hole on home ice for the first time this season, against an opposition on paper that shouldn’t have posed them too many problems.
Providence had managed just eight goals in five games before this encounter and were fielding a debutant goaltender in the shape of Dan Vladar.
Both teams struggled for any fluency in their play until the fourth minute, when Antoine Bibeau made an excellent save to rob Bruins left winger, Anton Blidh.
The Marlies responded with a rush of their own, Kerby Rychel sending in a shot too hot to handle for the young net minder but the rebound eluded his Marlies line mates.
It was Providence who were having the better of things, forcing Bibeau into another good stop and then hitting the iron. It was no surprise at all when the visitors opening the scoring six and a half minutes in.
Brendan Leipsic was guilty of misplaying the puck just outside the defensive zone and Andrew Campbell was caught pinching.
Tyler Randall picked up possession and promptly sent Zac Rinaldo in on goal. Faking backhand on Bibeau before scoring on his forehand around the pad of the goaltender.
Another error from Toronto allowed Providence to double their lead just before the eleven minute mark.
Rinat Valiev caught in possession by Peter Mueller, who raced in alone on net from the left wing, snapping a shot past Bibeau.
Toronto were gifting opportunities to the Bruins with far too many turnovers, especially inside their own zone. Only the first penalty of the game broke up the flow but despite Kapanen’s best efforts, the power play opportunity went to waste.
Leipsic (twice) and Nielsen would both fire high from promising positions but in truth the home team were lucky to only be down by a pair after twenty minutes.
The second period began in similarly poor fashion as Toronto were unable to capitalise on a power play carried over and then took their first penalty of the game.
Fortunately Bibeau was doing his best to keep Toronto in the game, denying Wayne Simpson and Jordan Szwarz on excellent opportunities during the penalty kill.
Back at even strength, the home team finally found their mojo with two perfect stretch passes resulting in Rychel afforded some room down the left side. His rocket of a shot was denied but that sparked the Marlies into getting on the board less than a minute later.
Leipsic dropping the puck back on the right boards for Campbell just inside the blue line. Releasing a measured shot, rather than his customary blast, the Captain’s attempt on net was redirected past Vladar by Tobias Lindberg.
Colin Greening was unfortunate in not being able to get a hold of a rebound on a shot from Dymtro Timashov as Toronto swarmed the Bruins zone, but the tying goal was just around the corner.
Frederik Gauthier winning an offensive face-off in the right dot back to Kapanen, whose shot was well saved. The Finnish winger grabbed a hold of the rebound, circling the defense before dishing off to Nikita Soshnikov on his left. The Russian forward’s shot was blocked by a leg in front but the puck fell nicely for Kapanen to rifle home from the slot.
Toronto were now firmly in control, dominating possession and controlling the play in the Bruins zone.
Justin Holl whistled a shot wide and Byron Froese was inches away from scoring during a scramble in front of net.
Surviving the onslaught, Providence should really have re-taken the lead.
Mark Naclerio missed his one time effort on a feed from Rinaldo and Bibeau was alert to deny the second opportunity.
Kapanen’s speed is something to behold and with seven minutes remaining, he burst past four Bruins players before heading alone on goal. He had Vladar beaten but lost a handle and ended up crashing head first into the post and net.
None the worse for the experience, Kapanen would return to the game, explaining after that his helmet took the worst of that contact.
The middle frame ended with power plays for both teams. The Bruins would ring the iron once again on their opportunity, while Soshnikov and Trevor Moore were denied on the Marlies man advantage.
As Toronto’s next power play expired they would bag a late period lead. Colin Smith settled down a rebound and made a smart decision not to shoot, but to shift the puck to his right for Leipsic to rifle into the net for this third goal this season.
With an intermission to recover from allowing three straight goals, the Bruins responded well to push back in the third period.
There was a great deal of fortune about their tying goal but they deserved some luck after previously finding iron.
A floated pass into the zone appeared to hit the heel of the back-tracking Justin Holl’s skate, before dropping kindly for Szwarz. Still not fully in control of the puck, the Bruins forward was somehow able to reach forward and get a shot on net that seemed to surprise Bibeau a little.
The game was very much in the balance and both teams exchanged changes in what was becoming a very open affair, not to the liking of either coach I fancy.
Sean Kuraly squandered two opportunities to take the lead for his team while Leipsic and Lindberg were denied by Vladar.
The best chance to net a winner in regulation would fall to a Marlies rookie.
Campbell found Moore with a perfect diagonal feed but somehow the youngster contrived to miss an open net
Froese would prove vital in the Marlies finally prevailing by earning a power play with 28 seconds left in the third period.
The game went into overtime and Toronto took an age to finally set up during the 4 on 3 man advantage. When finally able to do so, Andrew Nielsen took it upon himself to shoot and his attempt took a wicked deflection of a Providence player’s stick in front, eventually floating into the net past a bewildered Vladar.
A far from perfect display from Toronto, who were able to keep their perfect home record intact before heading on the road for the next two weeks.
Post Game Notes:
A pair of points for Kapanen who has nine for the season and ties Byron Froese for a team leading four goals.
A three point game for Brendan Leipsic take’s his tally to twelve. He’s produced in each of his six outings thus far.
Tobias Lindberg scored his first goal of the season. Just reward for his consistency in driving the net and providing traffic to screen goaltenders.
Antoine Bibeau recorded his fourth win of the season by having to make thirty saves for the first time.
He came up big when required and was backed-up once again by Jeff Glass.