Don’t look now, but the Toronto Marlies might make the end of this season interesting. While the older guys up in the NHL continue to freefall into the abyss that is the Connor McDavid sweepstakes, their AHL affiliate has seemingly finally got it together with a fresh roster and fresher outlook on line. Tonight, they took on the Adirondack Flames, picked up another two points, and moved to within a single point of the last playoff spot in the West.
The Marlies looked ready to play from the start of this one, starting with an early breakaway by Brendan Leipsic. While he didn’t score, it only took until the six minute mark for Toronto to open things up. Amid a scramble in front of the Flames’ net, Ryan Rupert tucked home his eleventh of the year and the only goal of the period.
Byron Froese continued the trend early in the second period, taking in a pass from Josh Leivo and potting his ninth. The two goal lead didn’t last very long at first, thanks to David Wolf striking for the Flames, but Matt Frattin got it back almost as quickly with a vintage snapshot from the hashmark region.
Not to be outdone, Connor Brown replicated Frattin’s shot nearly perfectly in the third, creating a three goal lead. It was threatened a few times, particularly by a long five on three, and eventually taken away by a powerplay goal against. The last minute of play got pretty weird; Byron Froese added an empty netter followed by Brian McGrattan tipping a puck past Christopher Gibson to pad the stats sheet. With that, though, time eventually expired and the Marlies claimed victory.
Ricoh Coliseum finally saw a breakout offensive performance by a defenceman tonight! TJ Brennan returned to the arena for the first time since being traded back to the Leafs, and… had nothing to do with it. Petter Granberg, who had six assists in 32 games heading into tonight, had helpers on all of the non-empty net goals. You read that right. Petter Granberg had four assists.
- Christopher Gibson started in goal, and looked quite good, stopping 22 of 25 shots. I suppose the last couple of minutes weren’t so hot, but for the first, what, fifty five? Very good.
- Tyler Biggs left the game in the first period with what appeared to be a foot injury.
- Byron Froese now has seven points in his last six games. Josh Leivo and Connor Brown are also putting up at least a point per game in the same stretch of time.
- William Nylander got an assist on the Rupert goal. He’s now up to 10 points in 17 games.
- Toronto’s next game is in, like, sixteen hours. Seriously! They face the Flames again in 3PM.
Photo Courtesy of Christian Bonin / TSGPhoto.com