The last time we sat down, the topic-du-jour was the Toronto Marlies’ new-found mortality and how they shook through it with a blowout win against the Portland Pirates. At the same time, though, we also talked about how Sheldon Keefe believed that the team was entering their toughest weekend of hockey yet. Sure enough, he was proven correct as the Marlies dropped games against the Providence Bruins and Albany Devils to close out another weaker-than-usual weekend.
The Providence Bruins are a team that started the season near the bottom of the standings but have rebounded in a big way down the stretch, and this game was a great example of why. The Marlies went up by two rather quickly thanks to goals from Matt Frattin and Kasperi Kapanen, leading many to believe that a lookalike of the previous night’s 9-goal outburst was forthcoming. But that was as far as they were abe to push Zane McIntyre, and despite some extreme discipline shown by the Marlies, the Bruins chipped away at even strength.
Eventually, the floodgates cracked, as Alexander Khokhlechev broke Antoine Bibeau’s shutout two minutes into the third period and was followed up by Brian Ferlin’s second goal of the season just a minute later. This was enough to push the game to overtime, where the Marlies almost blew the result early by forcing Austin Czarnik into a penalty shot situation just 35 seconds into the bonus frame. While he wasn’t successful, Ferlin ended up double dipping a few minutes later.
The team’s efforts against the Albany Devils were even less successful. Once again, the Marlies were first to strike courtesy of Brendan Leipsic’s 17th of the season, but penalty trouble proved to be Toronto’s death sentence in the second period. Tobias Lindberg’s infraction for holding the stick turned into Raman Hrabarenka’s fourth goal in 35 games on the ensuing powerplay. Two minutes later, Kasperi Kapanen was sent off for cross-checking, and Hrabarenka scored again to add insult to injury.
Eric Faille equalized for the Marlies early in the third period, and the game appeared to be overtime-bound for the longest time. That’s is until Nick Lappin shocked and excited his home crowd, taking in a pass from Matt Lorito, powering past Stuart Percy, and beating Alex Stalock for the surprise game winner.
Overall, 1-1-1 is a relatively solid weekend against three Calder Cup competitors, especially with a +5 goal differential in that span. But knowing what this team is capable of, and seeing the slump they underwent the weekend before, it almost leaves you wanting something more. Thankfully for Toronto, though, they didn’t lose a ton of ground; their 44-14-5 record is still first in the league by a considerable margin, despite losing 6 of their last 10 games. Also remaining sky high is their goal differential, which holds steady at a cool +84.
The Marlies will get another three chances to reverse that tide this weekend, when they take on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Friday, rematch against the Providence Bruins on Saturday, and wrap things up against the Lake Erie Monsters on Sunday. The first two games are at home and begin at 7:00 PM and 3:00 PM respectively.