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Marlies cool off Rocket, 4-3

Marlies cool off Rocket, 4-3

TORONTO – What are the qualities of a good hockey team? Is it strong offence? Mighty defence? Or an all-star goalie? But what if the team has been firing on all cylinders and their goaltender has been on par with the rest of the team? For Friday’s game against Laval, Toronto had to find a way to compete with a team coming off a solid game against Belleville on Wednesday and was ready to spill that into their next game. In the end, Toronto won it 4-3. 

“It’s really important. We were on .550,” said Marlies Coach Greg Moore “We didn’t want to be on the other side of that. We should start gaining some traction now.”

Cayden Primeau started in the pipes for the Rocket. That came after Primeau backstopped Laval to a 3-1 win on Wednesday, denying 16 of 17 shots. Meanwhile, Joseph Woll made his Marlies season debut for Toronto. Woll served in the Maple Leafs taxi squad until now, and the last time Woll played a game was 366 days ago.

There was a physical brand of hockey to start. The Toronto-Montreal rivalry first thumped when Scott Sabourin barrelled into Primeau, which created a ruckus in the early going. Sabourin played 23 seconds before being sent to the dressing room, sending Laval to the first power play. 

With Sabourin being knocked out of the lineup, this left the Marlies with 10 forwards for the rest of the game.

“It was a really difficult scenario to start the game. A five-minute penalty kill, we did a phenomenal job.”

– Greg Moore on Sabourin being kicked out early in the game

Laval seemed to be playing all over the Marlies in the early going. Without question, their strategy was to drive pucks on the net. This same strategy was in full display on Wednesday, when they drove 48 shots on Belleville. Driving another bullet onto Woll, a Jesse Ylonen shot found its way for a tip-in by Joseph Blandisi to take the opening lead.

In his first game this season as a Marlie, Nic Petan managed to find his first goal of the AHL season. The play started with Timothy Liljegren, who was riding the train in the slot. Fanning on the shot, Primeau was expecting a laser, which set him swimming. With the puck rolling off the pillows, giving Petan 6 feet of mesh to look at to tie the game.

After 20 minutes, the game was tied at one, but Laval was out-shooting Toronto 13-9. Laval seemed to be throwing as much rubber on the net as they could. For Laval, it was simple, create traffic and a diversion in front of Woll, and pucks will find it’s way to the net. 

The second period wouldn’t be tied for long before the Marlies got the go-ahead goal. Alexander Barabanov recorded his first goal in North America. The play was created with pure NHL vision: Petan made a beautiful seeing-eye pass to Alex Galchenyuk, who did him one better to find Barabanov in the slot. With fake going left, Barabanov pulled the puck to his backhand and buried it on the open cage.

By the midway point of the game, all the Marlies offence seemed to have come from the Marlies taxi squad, where the meter wasn’t long off for Petan, Barabanov and Galchenyuk. It was time for Galchenyuk to score one, blasting his first as a Marlie. His one-timed shot left no prisoners behind and gave no chance for Primeau to make the game 3-1.

Nathanael Halbert knew he had no room to make a play bursting down the right boards. With Ylonen trailing behind, Halbert made the drop pass for an old-fashioned shot to fool Woll. The goal marked Ylonen’s third of the year.

With Laval on the power play for a delay of game, the Marlies had high water pressure. They had two great chances short-handed, and the third was the one that potted them ahead by two. Joey Anderson’s fourth goal of the year gave the Marlies a sense of insurance and boosted morale in the period’s late goings.

One thing about scoring near the end of the period, it sets a tone in the locker room of how the next period will be played out. It can create a fire in a team’s step and change how they played in that period. For Laval, it needed to extinguish any Marlies fire in the last 20 minutes of the game.

“They forecheck really hard. There’s always someone on top of you.” Moore said, “We really have to get comfortable with getting in contact and playing physically.”

The Rocket’s last push came in the back end of the third period. Starting at the 12:00 mark, Josh Brook carved the 4-3 marker, keeping Laval in the game. His point-hammer shot was his second goal of the 2020-21 season.

For Laval, they had the Marlies right where they wanted them. The Rocket had full control in the early goings but let Toronto open the flood-gates in the second. By the time the Rocket closed the Hoover Dam, it was far too late. Toronto now pulls ahead of Laval in the Canadian division standings, trading third for second place.

The two will meet again on Sunday at 7:00 EST. The Sin Bin will have a recap of the game. The tilt can be seen on AHL TV.

Zack Power covers the Toronto Marlies for The Sin Bin. Follow or interact with him at @SinBinMarlies 

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    Zack Power covers the Toronto Marlies for Field Pass Hockey. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @FPHMarlies.

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