Yet another abject road performance from the Toronto Marlies, saw them tumble to their 8th defeat of the season away from Ricoh Coliseum.
Three of those reverses have been handed to them at the Blue Cross Arena by the Rochester Americans.
Rochester had allowed 18 goals in four straight defeats coming into this Wednesday night tilt, but Toronto made their hosts look like league leaders at times.
The opening encounters were promising for the Marlies as Kerby Rychel and Andrew Campbell both fully tested Linus Ullmark.
Both teams are fragile in the confidence department, so it was unforgivable the way Toronto handed the Amerks the game opening goal inside five minutes. Justin Holl was carrying the puck out of his zone but his pass was easily intercepted by Nick Baptiste just outside the Marlies blue line. The latter played pitch and catch with Cole Schneider, taking Holl out of the play and Baptiste easily beat Karri Ramo.
Two minutes later and Rychel was guilty of an even worse turnover inside his own zone. Justin Bailey was the grateful recipient and he would have been disappointed not to score despite a good save from Ramo.
The turnovers were far too frequent and led to a penalty at the midway mark.
Ramo was only forced into making one save however and Toronto almost tied the game up while short-handed. Colin Greening with some excellent PK work – orchestrated his own breakaway but Ullmark came up with the big save for his team.
Andreas Johnsson drew a penalty for the Marlies back at even strength but it proved a wasted opportunity. A could of good early chances after winning the initial face-off but the home team simply out-worked the visitors.
Greening and Kapanen both drew fine saves from Ullmark after great shifts from their respective lines but Toronto would still trail 1-0 after twenty minutes.
The middle frame was nothing if controversial and the Marlies were fortunate to score twice on just five shots.
Toronto held the slight upper hand during unspectacular first five minutes but weren’t able to take advantage of their second power play opportunity that came as a result.
Rochester would double their lead after killing the penalty.
Vaclav Karabacek made a nice drop pass to Dan Catenacci but the Amerks forward had three Marlies players in his way. Showing more will, strength and determination than his opponents, Catenacci worked his way to the left face-dot dot and fired past the glove hand of Ramo
With his team in the ascendancy, Justin Vaive would make an ill advised decision that backfired just before the midway point of the game.
A needless boarding on Daniel Maggio, who promptly threw haymakers in his direction and landed a few.
Vaive was sat in the box for an extra two minutes as Toronto controversially got themselves on the board.
A shot from Colin Smith caught the right toe of Ullmark and the puck lay loose in the blue paint.
Lindberg was first on the scene but appeared to kick the puck into the net.
Called a good goal on the ice, the officials right could not overrule the decision on a review system which is only in place to determine whether the puck has crossed the line.
Kasperi Kapanen almost tied the game up shortly after but it wouldn’t take long for more controversy to rear it’s head before Rochester re-established their two goal lead.
It looked for all the world as if the Amerks had scored a third goal, with a terrific shot above Ramo’s right shoulder. Immediately waived off by the officials, the home team and crowd were infuriated.
A review was asked for but it seemed so pointless as it was clear to everyone the puck had crossed the line. Why the goal wasn’t allowed is still a mystery to everyone who witnessed the game.
After twice receiving being on the wrong end of the decisions, Rochester resumed play with fire in their belly and Toronto failed to match that intensity.
Mike Aviani and Brady Austin combined to tee up Kyle Bonis, who crashed the net like a man possessed.
If any play summed up the chasm between the two teams, then it was the third goal.
A second goal for Toronto looked unlikely until a power play with a little over three minutes remaining.
Kapanen blasting home a pinpoint shot from the left circle to bring the Marlies within a goal.
With no explanation given, John Muse replaced Ullmark in net for the start of the final frame but Toronto would fail to really test the experienced goaltender.
On a penalty kill carried over from the second period, the Marlies survived despite Ramo giving up one huge rebound.
They were quickly back on the penalty kill though as Maggio and Campbell were called within 50 seconds of each other.
Rochester were unable to grab this golden opportunity to extend their advantage but within a minute of even strength play they would pull further ahead.
Comical defending by Toronto afforded space to Rochester’s best offensive players, who promptly made them pay. Cal O’Reilly and Cole Schneider with their 20th and 15th assists of the season, allowed Baptiste to score an easy rebound chance.
Toronto failed to muster any sort of push back or consistent offense, firing just eight shots through the final period.
Ramo was pulled for the majority of the remaining three minutes but this only allowed Baptiste to collect a hat-trick and his 14th goal of the season with an empty net tally.
Post Game Notes:
Kasperi Kapanen netted his 13th of the goal of the season, one behind league leader Nick Baptiste.
Kerby Rychel recorded a pair of secondary power play assists.
Frederick Gauthier returned from injury, playing on a line with Johnsson and Kapanen.
Kari Ramo’s third game for the Marlies and he still looks nowhere near NHL ready. How long this experiment continues is up for conjecture.
Toronto has now allowed 4+ goals on the road on six occasions this season.