Photo Credit: Christian Bonin/TSGPhoto.com
While the Toronto Maple Leafs headed to Ottawa to take on the Senators, the Marlies stayed back home to take on the Rochester Americans for the third time in a week. Unfortunately for them, this ended a little bit closer to the result of Game #2 than Game #1, and the Marlies fell 3-2 in a nailbiter.
This game started in entertaining fashion, as a penalty to Casey Nelson put the Marlies on a powerplay just seconds into the first period. While the Marlies didn’t convert, they did put on a ton of pressure, and eventually got rewarded when Colin Greening created a close-range opportunity and buried a snapshot past Linus Ullmark to give the team the lead. They developed some emotional momentum as well a few minutes later when Rich Clune went all out in a scrap with Bobby Shea, and for a bit, it seemed like all was going to be just peachy for the Marlies.
But it wouldn’t be Star Wars Night without the “Dark Side” coming out to make it interesting. Casey Nelson repeated his efforts from last weekend, once again burying a long-distance shot past Antoine Bibeau three minutes into the second period, which was a reward for a significant run of shots in their favour. The Marlies had a couple of cracks at powerplays to swing it back their way but had no success. Instead, Justin Bailey put Rochester up with four minutes remaining in the frame, giving the opposing side the edge.
The third period was all Toronto’s, for the most part. They took 17 of the final 22 shots in the last 20 minutes of regulation, but Jean Dupuy turned one of Rochester’s five into an insurance tally. Unfortunately for the Marlies, it was crucial that he did so, because while Brendan Leipsic blasted a one-timer past Ullmark less than a minute later, that’s as close as they got to tying the game back up.
With the loss, the Marlies fall to 15-19-2-1, giving them a points percentage of 0.446, squarely putting them in last in the North Division. To give an idea of how crazy this run of close losses has been, Toronto’s even goal differential is 3rd best in the very same division, with St. John’s being at -5, Utica at -24, Binghamton at -26, and Rochester at -22. Their upcoming six-game road trip, which starts next Friday and lasts until February 4th, might just define their season.