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Marlies Penalty Kill Comes in Big in Win Over Moose

Marlies Penalty Kill Comes in Big in Win Over Moose

TORONTO  The Marlies were outshot and outplayed in Wednesday night’s game against the Manitoba Moose, but somehow, still managed to score the win, 4-2. Toronto published two power-play markers, but it was Andrew D’Agostini that backstopped the win for the club.

In D’Agostini’s last game on Monday, he stopped 19 of 21 for the Marlies. Meanwhile, Mikhail Berdin started for the Moose after giving up four goals in his last start against the Marlies. Last night’s appearance was his second consecutive start, only trumped by his opposite, cracking number 10.

In the early portions of the first stanza, it was all goaltending. By the time the second media timeout rolled around, the shot clock had read 11-4 for Manitoba, with Toronto unable to find a shooting lane.

The Moose were the first to break the ice. Martin Marincin blocked a Manitoba pass but fumbled the puck, leaving it on Hayden Shaw’s platter to finish blocker-side. It was the first scorch for the Marlies, who continued to miss passes, turned the puck over, and created sloppy plays in both offensive and defensive zones. 

With seconds left on a roughing call to Nathan Todd, Justin Brazeau banked in on the AHL’s 9th ranked power play. Tyler Gaudet made the initial rush, taking a tough angle shot from just outside the circles. Berdin made a flurry of saves in the crease, but Brazeau got the puck over Berdin’s pad to tie the game.

The Marlies weren’t done there in the first, with Gaudet scoring his fifth of the year. Busting down the sideboards, Gaudet made a little stutter step to take Ville Heinola out of reverse. Looking left and moving the puck a smidgen sideways, Gaudet opened Berdin for a beautiful five-hole goal.

After 20, it was a 2-1 Marlies game. Toronto was being outshot 14-8 but had momentum near the end of the period, following a power play.

It would take to nearly the midway point of the period for both teams to get their offense going. The Marlies were the first to the bank, with Manitoba shortly behind.

Alex Galchenyuk had superb vision all night. On the power play, Galchenyuk made a drop pass to Kalle Kossila, who lit the lamp for his first goal of the year. Kossila had three goals and three assists last season with Toronto through 12 games.

“He’s been huge when you get a guy like that,” Marlies defenseman Mac Hollowell said of Galchenyuk. “He’s up on the top of our lineup, he’s making plays for us, he’s leading the power play, so it’s good to see.”

Just under two minutes later, the Moose scored to make it just a one-goal game. Jimmy Oligny made the initial shot from the point, but the hand-eye coordination from C.J. Suess baked the cake. Parked in front, Suess tipped in the wrister for his first of the year.

The third was set up for a hockey fan’s dream, anyone’s game. Manitoba proved that they could keep the game close, outshooting Toronto 19-17, but down by one. 

The third period was pretty evenly played. Manitoba had initial possession, but Toronto sustained the pressure near the middle portions of the period, neither able to dent the scoreboard until late in the period.

Hollowell almost blew it in the meantime, taking a tripping penalty in the final few moments, an unnecessary one in the neutral zone. Manitoba dominated the play, running six-on-four. A long clearing attempt by the Rosen banked the empty-net goal, and a noticeable collective sigh from both Hollowell and D’Agostini, who was under siege.

“That was a really big kill in a really big moment of the game.” Head Coach Greg Moore after the game, “Sometimes it’s more just easing their energy, making sure they’re centered and not making something more than what it is.”

The Achilles’ heel for the Moose was their power play against Toronto. The Marlies killed off all 14 power plays through their six games, including all four on Wednesday night. Moore lauded the special teams effort but is concerned with how his even-strength units are performing. 

“We were definitely happy with special teams; they stepped up in a big way,” Moore said, “Five-on-five wasn’t nearly where it needed to be. We didn’t manage the game well; we didn’t manage the score well, we didn’t manage the puck well. Immature turnovers at the blue lines and certain areas of periods was – it’s interesting. The group knows what they’re doing; they’re not executing yet.”

The next game for Toronto will come on Friday against Stockton at 7:00 pm ET. The game will be on AHL TV, as well as Facebook Watch.

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    Zack Power covers the Toronto Marlies for The Sin Bin. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @SinBinMarlies.

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