Devils’ special teams lethal as Marlies fall behind 2-1 in series

Photo Credit: Christian Bonin/ (From Game 2)

Tonight was a night for those who trends to be bucked. The Toronto Marlies have had a few players who have stepped up for them over the course of these playoffs, but a few of their most consistent contributors have fallen off the map. Goals from a pair of the team’s top youngsters moved the team forward in regulation, but both of the Albany Devils’ special teams units were lethal in what ultimately became a 3-2 Toronto loss.

Toronto appeared to be in a good position early in the first period when Mike Sislo was sent to the box for a high stick, and Brian O’Neill followed him a few minutes later. But, against the odds, it was the Devils who scored in that time frame, as Rod Pelly’s skate redirected a feed from a since-freed Sislo into the back of the net for a shorthanded tally for the period’s only goal.

Enter Josh Leivo. Just under four minutes into the second period, the winger swept a shot towards the net from the right wing and, to even his own initial surprise, the puck slipped past Scott Wedgewood to tie the game. Despite the two teams combining for 23 shots in the second period, there wasn’t much more to add to the scoresheet until the midway point of the third. In one of the few moments of the frame without a player in the penalty box, William Nylander gave the Marlies a late lead with a brilliant snipe from long distance.

For a while, it looked like Nylander’s goal would hold up as the winner, and when Sislo found his way back to the box for a slash with 1:34 remaining, it seemed all but certain that the Marlies would secure the win. But once again, the Devils penalty killers worked magic, evening things up by pulling Wedgewood and going for broke. With 21 seconds left, Nick Lappin put home the leftovers of Damon Severson’s scoring chance, sending the game to overtime.

A particularly scary moment came late in overtime when a pinching Stuart Percy was cross-checked head-first into the boards by Devils forward Joseph Blandisi. It was far enough away from the play that nobody, refs included, noticed it. Percy, who has a history of concussions, was motionless for an extended period of time before eventually skating off.

Toronto did eventually get their powerplay when Blake Pietila was sent off for holding late in the sudden-death frame. They had no shortage of opportunities in their man advantage, but odd bounces and broken sticks prevented them from making the most of it. With 1:32 remaining, the Marlies found themselves in penalty trouble of their own after Connor Carrick was tripped up. Much like the equalizer, Lappin chased a point shot all the way to the slot and after two cracks beat Bibeau for his second of the game and the winner.

Not a factor on the scoresheet was Andreas Johnson. The Swede played his first pro game in North America tonight, riding the wing on a line with Nylander and Zach Hyman. Johnson was pointless, but had two shots on goal.

The result leaves the Marlies down 2-1 in the series with two more games to go before returning home. Of course, this means that the two teams will remain in Albany to take care of Game 4 on Tuesday. Puck drop for that one will be at 7:00 PM.

  • TheGrimace

    How did Johnson look? Listened to the last couple periods on the radio and heard his name a fair bit but obviously hard to evaluate without seeing him move around.

  • Gary Empey

    2nd Period- Leivo 1 3:50

    3rd Period- Nylander 2 (Percy, Holl), 8:30.

    @ TheGrimace …Like you I had to listen on radio. Sounds like the Marlies have run into some hot goaltending. They are sure missing their captain on the back end.

    Found these quotes for you.

    “Johnson played great for his first North American game. This guy needs to be transitioned to the PP as a trigger man asap.”

    “Was a lot more physical than I imagined he’d be.”

    Here is the hit on Percy.

  • Gary Empey

    Quite possibly the most heartbreaking/awful Marlies game I have watched all season.

    We only had 1 nice goal for, and how we gave up that lead end of the 3rd on a power play!?!?! wtf…

    Bibeau played a solid game. Other than that, enh. Who ever was on the ice for end of the 3rd should be ashamed. NOT THE TIME TO PAT STATS. Close out the game.