In what was an uninspired and mistake ridden performance, the Toronto Marlies were shutout for the first time this season.
The home team rarely looked like breaking their goose egg, despite facing a goaltender owning a goals against average over three and a sub .900 save percentage.
The first period was strewn with individual errors, as Toronto failed to take advantage of key opportunities and dug themselves a hole they would prove unable to climb out of.
The home team had several chances in the opening seven minutes but Seth Griffith, Kasperi Kapanen, Mike Sislo and Andreas Johnsson failed to beat Yann Danis.
In-between times, Antoine Bibeau made three excellent saves as Toronto killed the first penalty of the game.
There was little to choose between the two teams until the Marlies allowed two goals in 85 seconds.
In an utter moment of madness under no pressure whatsoever, Steve Oleksy put the puck on the stick of Nikita Scherbak in the slot and the IceCaps forward made no mistake with a backhand finish.
A second straight turnover then presented Charles Hudon with a partial breakaway but Bibeau was able to get a piece of a wicked shot going top shelf.
Still the home team hadn’t learnt their lesson, as a clearing attempt from William Wrenn was blocked before Johnsson was the next to hand the visitors an absolute gift. Jacob de la Rose the beneficiary on this occasion and the centreman could barely miss.
All was not lost as a double minor penalty from Chris Terry put Toronto on the power play with a little under three minutes of the period to play. Though unable to put any pressure on the visitors, another penalty gave the Marlies a two man advantage for the full two minutes.
It proved the turning point of the game, as Toronto failed to score either side of the buzzer with the 5-on-3 advantage – the Marlies power play guilty of being far too static and devoid of ideas.
It went from bad to worse as two penalties taken in the first five minutes of the second period would eventually result in St. John’s netting for a third time.
It was another gift from Toronto that the visitors gratefully accepted.
Instead of lofting a clearance or firing the puck down the boards, Colin Greening inexplicably threw a bomb down the middle of the ice straight to Chris Terry. He dished off to Zach Redmond whose shot was blocked, but on hand was Scherbak to shift the rebound back to Terry who had the easiest task to fire into a vacant net.
A following power play for Toronto proved as impotent as previous efforts but did spark the home team into their best spell of offensive zone pressure as it expired.
Despite swarming all over the IceCaps, the Marlies still failed to create anything of note and St. John’s really should have scored once free of their own zone. David Broll guilty of firing high and wide during a 2-on-1 break.
There was little in the way of a pushback from the home team in the third period and they really should have fallen further behind three minutes in. Anthony Camara raced clear on goal after an error from Andrew Nielsen but Bibeau made a pair of saves – including a remarkable stop with the shaft of his stick on the goal line.
Toronto would muster just eight shots during the final frame of regulation – though Johnsson and Kerby Rychel should have tested Danis more with their opportunities.
With a pair of coincidental minors, four-on-four action ensued and Sheldon Keefe decided to pull his goaltender with eight minutes still to play.
The Marlies net would remain vacant for almost all of the remaining time but still they weren’t able to generate much offensively.
The final and possibly best opportunity of the game fell to Brett Findlay with two and a half minutes to play.
In tight and with the entire net to aim at, his attempt whistled through the blue paint and away to safety.
That effort summed up what was a very poor day at the office for Toronto, who will need to clear their minds of this diabolical performance before their trip to Rochester Wednesday evening.
Final: St.John’s IceCaps 3 – Toronto Marlies 0
Post Game Notes:
Toronto continue to lead the season series 5-4 but are 2-3 against St. John’s on home ice.
The top five teams in the North Division are now only separated by seven points – Toronto remain in third place.
Kerby Rychel led the team with five shots but has scored just once in his last thirteen games.
Kasperi Kapanen was back in the line-up, replacing Tobias Lindberg.
Justin Holl was left out in favour of Alex Gudbranson.