There’s a difference between “setting the tone” and “crossing the line”. The Albany Devils have spent the bulk of this series riding the grey areas in this regard, escalating pushing and shoving to attempts to injure on more than a few occasions. That became most apparent in tonight’s game, but rather than losing control, the Toronto Marlies got their revenge where it hurts the most; the scoresheet. Thanks to a potent powerplay, the blue and white managed to run away with a commanding 7-2 victory to tie the series at two.
Albany actually opened the scoring in this one, as Matt Lorito took advantage of a miscommunication between Justin Holl and newcomer Travis Dermott and set up Blake Pietila for an easy opening goal. A penalty to Viktor Loov tilted the ice to the point that the Devils had an early 6-0 shot advantage. It would be hard to blame anybody for being pessimistic for Toronto’s odds at that point, but when Damon Severson took a double minor for high-sticking Josh Leivo, the game turned around.
Leivo managed to get indirect revenge, picking up the secondary assist on a play that led to Mark Arcobello tying the game on that very powerplay. Before the period could end, the unit struck again; this time, Kasperi Kapanen deked out Scott Wedgewood to put the team ahead while Brian O’Neill sat in the box.
The Marlies came into the second period feeling pumped up, and it showed. With Severson back in the box for another high stick, TJ Brennan ripped a wrist shot into the back of the net to create just the second multi-goal lead for either team in this series.
Paul Thompson attempts to hit Rich Clune, puts himself through the glass instead pic.twitter.com/sAQvoQwjIj
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) May 11, 2016
The game saw a significant delay a few minutes later when Ben Thomson (not Paul Thompson, as the tweet says) attempted to hit Rich Clune and received a face full of plexiglass instead. This gave the teams significant time to regroup, and unfortunately, Albany’s strategy coming out of the faux-intermission was to send a physical message. Dan Kelly delivered a vicious, dangerous elbow to the head of Andreas Johnson which took both of them out of the game for different reasons. Toronto made what they could out of the ensuing five-minute powerplay as Brendan Leipsic scored to make it 4-1.
Nikita Soshnikov, who was a scratch in Game 3, made his triumphant return to the scoresheet with a minute and a half to go in the period, sniping the puck past an unprepared Wedgewood. The Devils netminder didn’t return for the third period, giving Yann Danis his first taste of action in these playoffs. It didn’t go very well, as Soshnikov felt the need to score on him as well a minute and a half into the third period. The rest of the game wasn’t much to write home about; Connor Brown picked up a breakaway goal at the midway point of the third, and Graham Black grabbed a pity tally for his team with 20 seconds to go.
|0-1||1st||ALB||2:10||B. Pietila (3)||M. Lorito, D. Severson|
|1-1 (PP)||1st||TOR||13:17||M. Arcobello (1)||C. Brown, J. Leivo|
|2-1 (PP)||1st||TOR||18:48||K. Kapanen (1)||Z. Hyman, W. Nylander|
|3-1 (PP)||2nd||TOR||1:05||T. Brennan (5)||M. Arcobello, C. Carrick|
|4-1 (PP)||2nd||TOR||14:10||B. Leipsic (1)||W. Nylander, S. Carrick|
|5-1||2nd||TOR||18:39||N. Soshnikov (2)||C. Carrick, R. Clune|
|6-1||3rd||TOR||1:36||N. Soshnikov (3)||B. Smith|
|7-1||3rd||TOR||10:27||C. Brown (4)||S. Carrick|
|7-2||3rd||ALB||19:40||G. Black (1)||D. Severson|
It’s unfortunate that Albany has spent so much of this series putting their opponents at risk with some truly awful hits, which are just a piece of a puzzle that includes a lot of pushing, shoving, hacking, slashing, and just about anything they can do to bring down a talented Marlies roster. It’s not appealing to watch and at times, it’s straight up dangerous.
But you have to give Toronto a lot of credit; while they’ll give a shove back on occasion, they haven’t fallen into the trap of trying to fight a “physical” battle. Tonight, they scored more goals on the Devils than any team has this season, and they chased Wedgewood, who was otherwise playing the best stretch of hockey in his pro career, out of the net. If they go on to win this series, tonight is a definite turning point, if not a perfect encapsulation of Marlies hockey.
Looking ahead, the two teams will play one more game at the Times Union Center before switching cities. That will come on Thursday night at 7:00 PM. It’ll be interesting to see how the two lineups change with tonight’s events considered.