The Toronto Marlies rallied late to salvage a point against their North Division rivals.
However this was a game that should have seen them collect the full two points on offer, despite an overall sloppy performance.
A back and forth beginning between the two teams would not see a whistle blown until a little over the four minute mark
Having not registered a shot during that time, Toronto would find themselves behind without even five minutes on the clock.
More errors in their own zone came back to haunt the Marlies as first they afforded time for Cal O’Reilly to measure a pass to Nick Baptise. Not only was Rochester’s leading goal scorer alone in front of goal, after being denied by Antoine Bibeau on his initial effort, he was uncontested as his tucked home the rebound.
Toronto were clearly second best but would tie the game three minutes later on their first shot of the game. An errant pass inside the Marlies zone was picked off by Kasperi Kapanen, who was duly off and away down the ice on his lonesome. Goaltender John Muse had little chance as Kapanen went top shelf for his 15th of the season.
Tying the game gave the home team some legs and a couple of opportunities to push themselves ahead.
However Muse made a pair of good saves to deny Brett Findlay and Brendan Leipsic respectively.
Another error from Toronto gifted possession to Cole Schneider but Bibeau was alert on this occasion, able to turn the effort aside.
Justin Holl owns a fair shot and as the trailer on a play, wound up for a huge slapshot on a drop pass from Kerby Rychel but was denied by a fine pad save from Muse.
The Marlies would put themselves ahead thanks to excellent work from Dmytro Timashov.
The rookie winger went one way and then the other, as he twisted and turned behind the Amerks net. He created space for a wraparound attempt, and although denied, the puck fell to Colin Smith to put home the second opportunity.
Toronto rarely looked like extending their lead and would be fortunate to still hold an advantage heading into the intermission.
Another turnover presented a chance for Dan Catenacci who was denied by a right pad from Bibeau.
The first Rochester power play would prove fruitless despite opportunities for Baptiste and Evan Rodrigues, and the visitors best chance to level up proceedings arrived with a minute remaining.
Tim Kennedy made Andrew Nielsen with a move to go around the rookie defenseman as Rochester had Toronto on their heels on the rush. Kennedy would head straight to the goal but failed to get all of his shot, enabling Bibeau to make an easier save than should have been the case.
Toronto’s second period effort was more reminiscent of their play in 2016, as they were sloppy in possession, eventually handing the initiative to a tired Rochester team playing their third game in as many days.
With Kerby Rychel sent to the box not even two minutes into the period, the visitors wasted little time in tying up proceedings. A shot from Nelson appeared to be redirected in front but either way Bibeau was beaten for the second time.
Toronto responded by almost netting themselves, but Muse got a piece of Timashov’s top shelf effort to send it high after nice work from Smith.
Findlay then drove to the net from the right side, forcing a save from Muse which led to a manic scramble in the crease which resulted in a first power play for the Marlies.
Toronto were casual and lacked any sort of conviction with the extra man and it was Rochester who found momentum with an easy penalty kill.
The Amerks drew ahead just before the midway mark of the game, with a poor piece of play all round from the home team.
Toronto won a face-off in their own zone but Justin Vaive nipped in to steal the puck and fire off a one time effort that found the twine.
Arguably Bibeau should have stopped that one but just how Vaive was allowed to so easily steal possession should be of concern to the coaches.
The home team tried to respond positively to falling behind but created just three opportunities of note during the remainder of the period.
A shot from Rinat Valiev was denied and it was left to Brett Findlay to try and spark his team.
Some nice play from the forward first set up Travis Dermott, whose effort was deflected high.
Then an inch perfect pass allowed Leipsic to split the defense but Muse was again equal to the attempt.
Rochester had themselves a late power play and a chance to extend their lead.
It was Toronto who almost tallied however with Kapanen and Colin Greening breaking on a 2-on-1 rush, but the former’s attempted pass was just off the mark.
To take something from this game, Toronto needed to break an appalling record when trailing after two periods.
A promising beginning for the team was halted by a penalty but they almost tallied while short-handed. Leipsic driving down the left wing before shooting at the pads of Muse but the rebound eluded Smith. The play immediately switched the other way and Bibeau kept Toronto within one as he took a shot off his mask.
With desperation doubtless at their forefront of their minds, Toronto began to play as individuals rather than a team and forays into the Rochester zone were all too easily handed by the visitors.
In fact Rochester may have added an insurance marker but for some great last ditch defensive play’s from Tobias Lindberg and Viktor Loov respectively.
It took until the 9:30 mark of the period for the Marlies to create anything offensively and it was a gift from the Amerks. Trevor Moore’s pass found Rychel down low, with him and Greening in behind the Rochester defense.
Despite a 2 and 0 and copious amounts of time to maker the right play, they conspired to waste a golden opportunity.
Two minutes later and Greening redeemed himself somewhat with a perfect feed from behind the net to find Kapanen in the slot. The winger’s one-time effort brought a wonderful save from Muse however.
With the game beginning to peter out, Trevor Moore drew a tripping penalty inside the last five minutes.
In what’s been somewhat of a go to power play move for Toronto, from the right side Kapanen sent the puck to Rychel standing in front. Though the initial effort was denied, a mad scramble ensued but the calmest man was Kapanen, who took his opportunity to score with a measured shot through traffic.
There was still 3:53 of regulation time remaining, which was almost exclusively spent in the Rochester zone. Though putting the Amerks under extensive pressure and firing 22 shots on net through the third period, the visitors stood firm to ensure overtime.
Toronto carried their momentum into overtime, though Greening should have taken a shot with some space afforded to him instead of looking for Kapanen who was behind the play.
On Rochester first rush during overtime they would win the game.
Baptiste worked his way around a tired looking Leipsic before firing on goal. Bibeau made the initial save but no one was picking up Mac Bennett who had the simplest of tap ins for the game winner.
Post Game Notes:
Toronto out-shot Rochester 41-33 but that was skewed somewhat by the third period numbers.
Despite the overtime loss, Toronto’s three game point streak is their second longest of the season.
Two goals for Kasperi Kapanen takes his tally to sixteen for the season, sixth best in the AHL.
Brett Findlay is yet to put up a point in four games but could easily have assisted on a pair of goals during this game. He was certainly one of Toronto’s better forwards throughout the sixty minutes.
Colin Smith has found goals harder to come by this season but this was his second in four games.