Photo Credit: Christian Bonin/TSGPhoto.com
Sometimes, the best defence is a good offence. Tonight was a great example of that; while Toronto’s forwards poured pucks on the net, it was the defencemen who actually got them to hit mesh and light lamps in what became a massive 5 goal rally to send themselves to the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Toronto needed to start this game by throwing as many pucks as they could on net and while it was evident from the beginning that this game would end up in Toronto’s favour, the commotion wasn’t quite enough to throw Christopher Gibson off his game in the early going. In fact, the Sound Tigers struck first, as Marc-Andre Cliche reminded people that he’s still in the game with his first of the series just six minutes in. The Marlies did manage to pull one goal out of their 19-shot first-period wave, though, as Connor Carrick rocketed an unassisted slapshot from the point to tie the game while Kevin Lafranchise sat in the box in horror.
The Marlies headed into the second period with another powerplay but a penalty to Carrick neutralized it and turned it into a 4-on-4 ordeal. This was the start of a painful eleven minute run for the Marlies, which saw the team give up three goals on five shots with at a player in the penalty box, two of which came while on the penalty kill. This marked the end of Antoine Bibeau’s night; while the goals weren’t particularly his fault, the hope was that Garret Sparks was going to come in with a fresh mind and that the team would take the move as a wakeup call.
The coaching staff appeared to make the right call. Within seven minutes, the game was tied right back up, with TJ Brennan dropping his own point bomb before Carrick followed it up with his second and third goals of the night, scoring a hat trick so unexpected that nobody actually littered the ice afterward. Viktor Loov followed in his footsteps three minutes into the third period, and Zach Hyman added insurance on an incredible rally with eight minutes to go, finally giving a forward a goal.
At the end of the night, there were a lot of impressive statistics. Carrick ended up with five points, Josh Leivo took nine shots, Sparks stopped all twelve pucks he faced in relief and the Marlies outshot their opponents by nearly double. But most importantly, they capped off their series. They’ll now get a few days off before taking beginning Round 2 against the Albany Devils on Wednesday.