The Toronto Marlies’ cold sticks turned hot in what turned out to just the right response to a sluggish playoff debut. After falling 3-0 in Game 1 against the Albany Devils, Toronto flashed their scoring punch from start to finish in a commanding 6-2 victory on Saturday evening.
The Marlies had luck on their side early, as they hopped onto their first powerplay of the game just two and a half minutes in. They didn’t take long to convert on it, either; Kerby Rychel made the most out of a Seth Griffith carry out and buried the first goal of any Marlies player in this post-season within twenty seconds of the man advantage beginning.
Late in the first period, Rinat Valiev tripped up Miles Wood in front of the Toronto net, sending him into Garret Sparks. This led to the team’s starting goaltender feeling a little shaken up, one of their top defenders being sent to the penalty box, and also a brief timeout while the net they all crashed into was repaired. While the Devils didn’t score on the powerplay, Kevin Rooney did tie the game not long afterwards. An ex-Devil made sure that the goal wouldn’t turn into a turning point, however, as Sergey Kalinin scored his third goal in his new uniform to put Toronto back up just eleven seconds later.
Toronto continued to roll in the second period. Frederik Gauthier went from blue line to blue line before unleashing a snipe past McKenzie Blackwood in the opening minutes of the period, and Colin Greening one-upped him by executing nearly the exact same play with a bit of extra carry two minutes later; both players doing so with Justin Holl as the primary playmaker. Kenny Appleby took Blackwood’s place from here, and John Quenneville quickly responded to keep the Devils somewhat in the game, but after former Marlies defenceman Viktor Loov took a holding penalty, Andreas Johnsson restored the three-goal lead by burying a wicked no-look pass from Kerby Rychel with four minutes to go in the middle frame.
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) April 23, 2017
The game started to get chippier from here, starting with another net-front collision that drew the attention of both teams. After this sequence, which happened in the last minute of the period, the Marlies decided it was best to not risk a chance of injury with Sparks and sent Kasimir Kaskisuo out in his place.
Kaskisuo didn’t see much action, stopping all three shots he faced, as the third period was pretty lacklustre from a hockey perspective. Trevor Moore extended Toronto’s lead to 6-2, but from then, the game seemed to be one more of pushing, shoving, and yapping; much of which came from Albany, leading to them getting a roughing minor in all of the last five penalty whistles of the game.
With the win, Toronto ties the series at one and steals Albany’s home ice advantage. The rest of the series will now be played at Ricoh Coliseum in front of their own crowd: Game 3 is on Wednesday night, Game 4 on Friday, and if necessary, Game 5 will be played on Saturday.