The Toronto Marlies got back to winning ways in an ill-tempered Friday night tilt in Belleville.
The Senators are known for their physical brand of hockey and attempts to intimidate opponents, but they lost the special teams battle in this penalty-ridden affair and ended up on the wrong side of a 3-1 scoreline.
Both teams could have opened the scoring inside a frantic first 60 seconds: Francis Perron was the recipient of a giveaway in the slot, while a solo rush from Kasperi Kapanen meant Belleville goaltender Danny Taylor needed to be alert early.
Justin Holl was then afforded the room to measure a shot from above the hash marks and pick up his own rebound, but he missed the target with half an empty net to aim at.
It took over five minutes for the Senators to register a shot, and they tested Calvin Pickard just once on the game’s first power play.
A mere three seconds after the penalty expired, Chris Mueller split two Belleville players with a pass to Dmytro Timashov, who was all alone in the slot. The winger took the pass on his backhand and pulled it to his forehand for a quick release high blocker side, giving Taylor no chance.
After killing off a too-many-men penalty, Toronto’s power play went to work but couldn’t cash in despite plenty of offensive zone time and some decent looks.
The game started to boil over late in the period after Patrick Sieloff took a run at Jeremy Bracco. Bracco was none the worse for wear, but Rich Clune jumped in to defend his rookie teammate.
The Marlies were indebted to Pickard in a middle frame largely dominated by Belleville.
Jack Rodewald was denied by the Toronto goaltender on a great chance in front before Andrew Nielsen — seconds after exiting the box for a penalty carrying over from the first period — dropped the gloves with the former Marlie. Nielsen came out on top before heading back to the box.
Mason Marchment and Bracco nearly combined to double the lead before Belleville took control of the game for a spell.
Pickard was forced into an incredible diving stop to his left to deny Ethan Werek and produced an even better toe save just three minutes later.
Belleville then wasted a pair of odd-man rushes before tying the game up with 8:34 played. Perron made no mistake in tight on a feed from Jim O’Brien as the Senators swarmed the Marlies net.
Sieloff continued his antics with a borderline hit on Ben Smith, drawing the ire of Colin Greening, who was ordered to sit down for two minutes for roughing.
Somewhat out of the blue, Toronto retook the lead with five minutes remaining in the second period. Justin Holl read a Belleville clearance and speculatively sent the puck back up the ice. It fell to Greening, who turned the puck perfectly into the path of Timashov streaking down the left wing.
With time to weigh up his options, Timashov faked a shot before firing home with another top corner finish, this time glove side.
Soon after, Pickard turned aside a good chance for Max Reinhart and held onto the rebound. Reinhart decided to run the goaltender and took a costly penalty in the process.
The Senators forward could only watch on from the box as Kerby Rychel tipped in a hard wrist shot from the point by Calle Rosen to give Toronto a 3-1 lead.
The Senators weren’t done taking penalties as Christian Jaros took offence to a hit from Kapanen, sending the Toronto forward to the ice and unleashing as many punches as he could get in before the officials intervened.
The late-period antics meant Toronto began the third period on the power play, but it was a poor effort that didn’t test Taylor often enough.
The final frame featured eight penalties split equally between the teams. The procession to the box began seven minutes in after Pickard produced an excellent save to turn aside Tyler Randell.
Belleville was handed an abbreviated 5-on-3 power play after three Toronto penalties in a span of 2:24, but the league’s best penalty kill stepped up and Pickard held the fort when needed.
A solid defensive effort from the Marlies limited the Senators to just five shots in the final 20 minutes. The margin of the final victory could have been bigger had Toronto taken advantage of their late power-play opportunities.
Post Game Notes
– The Marlies now own a 12-2 record against North Division opponents.
– Toronto’s penalty kill went a perfect 7 for 7 and has risen to 90.7% on the year.
– A point for Andreas Johnsson gives him his 18th on the year and moves him into the lead in team scoring.
– Balanced scoring continues to be the story for the Marlies. They’re at the top of the AHL standings and rank sixth in goals for, but don’t have a player over a point-per-game or in the top 25 in league scoring.
– Two goals for Dmytro Timashov takes his season tally to seven. With seven goals in 22 games (14 points), he’s just four off of his full-season total from his rookie year.
– Chris Mueller recorded a pair of assists, giving him six points in his last five outings.
– Calvin Pickard picked up his fifth straight victory and has only given up a single goal in each of those wins. His save percentage now sits at .933.
– Travis Dermott is injured and won’t feature in Saturday’s game against Hartford.
– Timothy Liljegren was a healthy scratch. He stayed in Toronto and will play on Saturday.
– Friday’s lines:
Post-Game: Sheldon Keefe
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