The Toronto Marlies blasted their way to an opening three goal lead in the opening twenty minutes against the Albany Devils.
That’s as good as it would get for the home team, as they were comprehensively out-played the rest of the way.
After a few scary moments in their own zone to begin the game, Toronto took control early and netted inside three minutes.
A long outlet pass from Tony Cameranesi allowed Eric Faille to race away down the right wing.
Recognising that Mackenzie Blackwood in net had overcommitted to his left, Faille opted to head around the net and promptly scored on his wraparound attempt.
The Marlies power play went to work shortly after but were unable to double the lead despite lots of controlled possession.
The lines led by Byron Froese and Frederik Gauthier were causing the Devils all kinds of trouble and it was the former who doubled the lead twelve minutes in.
With Albany intent on hitting everything that moved rather than concentrating on the puck, Froese ended up alone on Blackwood and beat the goaltender five-hole. Seth Griffith was run over on the blue line on the play, and Trevor Moore the victim of a vicious hit that would have been a boarding call. Thankfully both were OK, though Moore took a couple of shifts off before returning.
Toronto’s next power play was cut short by a needless penalty from Froese 22 seconds into the man advantage. It mattered little however as the Marlies dominated 4-on-4 play and had the visitors floundering in their own zone – Blackwood especially appearing harried.
As the visitors penalty expired, Griffith worked himself some space to the left of the goal before teeing up Travis Dermott to score just his second of the year – a short-handed marker.
Antoine Bibeau had been no more than an interested spectator as he watched his team-mates build a 3-0 lead but would finally be called into action with a little over three minutes remaining.
An odd-man break resulted in a great chance for Kevin Rooney but Bibeau did just enough to turn him aside. Staying sharp on the same play, Toronto’s goaltender held onto a long range effort from Josh Jacobs through traffic.
Toronto were now a little on their heels but had simply stopped playing, allowing Albany to net 41 seconds before the buzzer.
Jacob MacDonald drove to the net and though he was denied, Petr Straka followed up the play to bang home the rebound for just his third goal of the season.
The shots favoured the Marlies 18-9 and at times Albany failed to cope with their level of performance. It proved a bar the home team were unable to match as they played reactive rather than proactive hockey from that point on.
Moore was one bright spot early in the middle frame and came close to re-establishing the three goal advantage. Twisting and turning on the right boards, the rookie forward worked himself some room before driving to the net. His intended pass would hit an Albany stick in front and then struck the post with Blackwood beaten.
Andrew Campbell would be the first Marlies player to head to the box and it was nearly a shortened visit. Ben Sexton only denied from scoring by Bibeau and the post as Toronto’s penalty kill held on for dear life.
Froese was the next man tabbed for an infraction but this time it was Toronto who almost scored. Andreas Johnsson skated circles around Albany but his backhand attempt was turned aside by Blackwood.
Upon exiting the box, Froese made a desperation diving play to enable Cameranesi to head on net, but being a right-handed shot, he was only able to get away a backhand effort which was smothered.
Sexton was proving a hard man to handle for Toronto and at the nine minute mark the Albany centreman released a wicked shot that smacked against the crossbar and bounced out.
The visitors had Toronto running around following that effort and there wouldn’t be a whistle for a around three minutes.
At the next stoppage, the officials chose to look at Sexton’s shot with video review and the break gave Toronto a chance to recover and reset.
Colin Greening and Johnsson almost combined with the former unable to corral a rebound. Next to try his luck was Gauthier on a wraparound attempt after hard work from Rich Clune worked the opportunity.
An extremely weak call on Cameranesi sent Albany on their third straight power play of the middle frame. What the road team hadn’t counted on was the skating ability of Justin Holl.
Toronto’s defenseman picked up the puck deep in his own zone but instead of dumping to safety, set about on a rush down the left. His speed, coupled with Albany’s apparently lack of urgency, allowed Holl to easily drive to the net, cut across the crease and slide the puck past Blackwood for a short-handed marker.
If Toronto could just kill the remainder of the penalty, they would take a 4-1 lead into the third period.
Alas that wasn’t the case as with three seconds left with the man advantage, Albany struck to pull within two goals once more.
It was a slick passing play from the Devils but a missed assignment allowed Jan Mandat to score backdoor all too easily.
Albany should have only trailed by one through forty minutes however. Dermott with a cheap turnover led to a 4-on-2 break for the visitors. Somehow they failed to create a chance on the initial rush and then Bibeau came up huge to deny MacDonald.
That was just a taste of what was to come for Bibeau, who would face a shooting gallery in the final frame.
Another debateable call put Toronto on the kill early in the third period and they would be thankful for Campbell’s long frame enabling him to break up an odd-man rush.
Back at even strength Straka was denied by a right pad save from Bibeau, who then rode his luck second later. As Toronto floundered with only four of five skaters owning a stick, Rooney let fly with a shot that Bibeau deflected onto the post via his pads once more.
A fifth straight man advantage for Albany led to yet more brilliance from Bibeau. Carter Camper found Nick Lappin with a perfect pass backdoor. Releasing a one-timer, Lappin thought he had scored but Toronto’s net minder was swift across his crease, moving left to right to make his best stop of the game so far.
Johnsson would draw a penalty to cut short the penalty kill but it did nothing to halt the flow of Albany’s domination. Blake Coleman gifted a short-handed opportunity but there was Bibeau to bail out his team-mates who had been careless in possession.
A TV timeout provided the home team with some respite but they appeared a tired team having chased Albany since the end of the first period.
Toronto still clung onto a two goal lead and were thankful to Bibeau with seven minutes remaining.
Brian Gibbons caused havoc with a relentless drive to the net and the loose puck fell to Lappin.
Having been previously robbed by Bibeau, the Devils forward could only watch in disbelief as Bibeau somehow pulled out a miraculous glove save.
On a rare foray in the visitors zone, Froese would find the iron with a bad angle backhand attempt that appeared to handcuff Blackwood.
That’s as close as Toronto would come to winning the game as Albany broke through with 2:59 left on the clock.
Sexton was allowed to turn and drift into middle left circle virtually uncontested and fired a top shelf, short-side shot that finally found a way past Bibeau.
A tying goal looked inevitable, even as the game entered the final minute of regulation. With Blackwood pulled for the extra attacker, Albany were rewarded for their endeavours. Sexton netting his second of the game after his team-mates had won several small battles to get the puck to the net.
The Marlies held on for overtime and a single point, but that’s as much as they would take from this game.
There were chances for Griffith, Timashov and Rychel but it was an error that gift wrapped the extra point for the visitors with 49 seconds remaining.
Moore handing possession to Lappin, who led the odd-man rush toward the Toronto net. Dishing off to Yohann Auvitu at the perfect moment, Bibeau had no chance of stopping the one-time shot from the slot.
A frustrating loss for the Toronto Marlies but nothing more than they deserved after putting in a twenty minute performance.
Post Game Notes:
After out-shooting Albany 18-9 through twenty minutes, Toronto would end up behind on the shot clock by a count of 45-37.
Byron Froese netted his fifth goal in four games and takes his tally to 22 for the season.
Seth Griffith recorded his fifth multi-point effort in ten games. Keeps his scoring streak alive, taking his overall total to fifteen points.
Eric Faille scored his first goal of the season in his eighth game.
An assist for Frank Corrado give him seven points in ten games for the Marlies this year.