Less than 24 hours after surrendering a three goal lead, Toronto bounced back with six of the best against the Albany Devils.
With both teams facing their third games in as many days, mistakes by tired minds would play a factor.
A misplay just two minutes in allowed Albany a 2-on-1 break, but Garret Sparks easily turned aside the attempt from John Quenneville.
Toronto would head on the power play thirty seconds later and proceeded to open the scoring.
Travis Dermott showed composure in quarterbacking the power play before rifling a shot through traffic for his third of the season.
The Marlies would be out-shot 11-5 during the first twenty minutes of play, courtesy of taking three consecutive stick penalties.
The home team did an excellent job of shutting down the visitors power play, with Sparks’ only save of note, a double stop to deny Brian Gibbons.
A one goal advantage flattered Toronto somewhat, but they were much better in an action packed middle frame.
After Seth Griffith and Karl Stollery had been sent to the box for roughing, the Marlies scored their second of the game, just 62 seconds into the second period
Justin Holl crossed the offensive blue line with speed before dropping the puck back for Kerby Rychel – who promptly drove hard to the net. It appeared as if the latter would shoot but instead sent a cross ice feed for Holl. It was an easy finish for the defenseman waiting at the doorstep and a brilliantly worked goal.
The home side fell asleep upon the resumption of play and Albany responded in just 18 seconds.
Carter Camper reacting first to a rebound after Sparks had initially blocked Josh Jacobs effort.
A second power play for the Marlies provided nothing in the way of goal scoring opportunities but back at even strength the home team were able to put the visitors under some sustained pressure.
That would eventually result in another man advantage in which the teams shared a single chance a piece in the space of ten seconds.
An error from Byron Froese allowed Albany a 2-on-1 but Sparks guided the shot wide and the Marlies were now heading back the other way with speed. A 3-on-1 rush ensued, but Ken Appleby made the save to deny Froese from redeeming his earlier error.
Frank Corrado has been an excellent addition to the Marlies roster but he put his team under pressure by taking a double minor for high-sticking.
Toronto’s penalty kill rose to the occasion by killing the first portion of the penalty before striking a short-handed marker. Andreas Johnsson released Froese on a breakaway and Toronto’s top goal scorer made no mistake with his five-hone finish.
As they did the day previously, the Devils responded to allowing a short-handed goal by tallying on the power play.
MacDonald faking a slap-shot before sending a rapid pass to Reece Scarlet waiting in the left circle. The latter let rip a perfect one-time shot which found the twine via the post.
Toronto finished the middle frame much the better of the two teams but were unable to extend their lead.
The best chance falling to Froese on the Marlies third power play, but he whiffed on the opportunity from low in the left circle.
The man advantage carried over into the third period but Dermott was the only player to test Appleby, as Froese contrived to fire two efforts wide of the target from promising positions.
After a huge comeback the day before, Albany were full of belief they could overcame a single goal deficit with a period to play.
They almost tied the game at the two minute mark but Lappin was robbed by Sparks after collecting a rebound off the back boards.
A mere sixty seconds later and an error from Appleby almost put his team down by two. Eric Faille was the recipient of his intended clearance but the resulting shot from the Toronto forward hit Tony Cameranesi in front and somehow drifted wide of the cage.
Mistakes were becoming more prevalent and the normally reliable Frederik Gauthier gave the puck away in his own zone.
Kevin Rooney gratefully accept the gift in the middle of the ice but Sparks came up with a fantastic glove save to ensure Toronto’s frail lead remained intact.
With Andrew Nielsen sat in the box for tripping, it appeared as if Albany would strike for the second time with the extra man. Sparks however had different idea, pulling off two fine stops including a top draw effort to deny Quenneville.
Justin Holl proved an offensive threat to Albany all weekend and he came within an inch of scoring his second of the game at the ten minute mark.
He escaped down the right wall as the Devils were unable to cope with his speed. Having created space, Holl drove to the net and released a tricky backhand attempt that Appleby got a piece of his right skate to – sending the puck onto the post and away to safety.
A following Marlies power play only resulted into a fantastic opportunity for the visitors to tie up the game. Dermott was stripped of possession behind his own net, but Sparks bailed out his rookie team-mate by shutting down Blake Coleman.
Six seconds after the penalty had expired, the home team pushed themselves ahead by two, thanks to another defenseman finding the twine.
Frank Corrado let fly from the middle of the ice and recorded his first goal of the season with a shot that appeared to deceive Appleby.
That would prove to be a killer blow for the visitors, as Toronto would tally three times in a little over three minutes of play.
Johnsson would be guilty of some poor discipline with a stick infraction two seconds into a power play.
More four on four action led to a flurry of chances but Toronto came out on top.
Nick Lappin’s excellent wraparound attempt was denied by Sparks swiftly moving left to right across his net and seconds later the Marlies broke on an odd man rush. Holl led the break and wisely ignored his team-mate before blasting high into the net past the blocker of Appleby.
Upon exiting the box, Johnsson responded with some redemption and possibly avoided some harsher words from Sheldon Keefe for his previous infraction.
Staying in the play, he handled a pass from Froese and from the hash marks rifled home a shot just over the pads of the beleaguered Appleby.
Up 6-2 with fewer than four minutes remaining, there would be no comeback from Albany on this occasion.
Sparks would only be required to make one save from Rod Pulley in the dying seconds to ensure he would not be beaten for a third time.
A weekend of many up and downs for the Marlies but ultimately a successful three game stint that saw them take five of a possible six points.
Post Game Notes:
This was the last ever regular season meeting between these two teams, with New Jersey moving their affiliation to Binghamton for 2017-18. Albany edged the season series by taking ten points to Toronto’s eight.
Toronto are riding a five game point streak (4-0-1-0) which ties their best of the season.
Toronto’s eight victory in their last ten games put’s them firmly in a playoff spot with just over a third of the season remaining.
This was the first time Garret Sparks had faced Albany this year and came up with his best performance for a couple of weeks. He made 29 saves for his 13th win of the season.
Byron Froese scored his 23rd goal of the season and extended his points streak to five games. Seth Griffith has been credited for Toronto’s recent revival but Froese has eleven points during his hot streak.
Goals in consecutive games for Travis Dermott, who is beginning to produce the kind of offensive numbers that were expected. He has three goals and five assists in his last eleven outings.
Brett Findlay has had to wait for opportunities this season and he rarely let’s the Marlies down when selected. Two assists gives him eight points in fourteen games.
Frank Corrado netted his first goal of the season and is riding a three game point streak.
Eight points in eleven outings has been a vital boost from the blue line
Justin Holl‘s pair of goals is his first double for the Marlies. Until this weekend, his previous goal was way back in October against Manitoba. Hopefully he can now kick on.
The point streak had to end sometime for Seth Griffith but it did so with many of his team-mates stepping up in his place.