Once again, the Toronto Marlies have seen their season cut short a little sooner than expected. Despite pulling away with an early lead in Game 7, the blue and white hit a wall in the back half of the game’s deciding series and were defeated by the Syracuse Crunch, ending their season away from home.
Toronto’s problems started early in the game, as Syracuse veteran Gabriel Dumont opened the scoring six and a half minutes in for the opposition. The Marlies flipped the tables in their favour late in the period, however, as Seth Griffith capped off a passing play between Trevor Moore and Cal O’Reilly with two and a half minutes to go in the period, and less than a minute and a half later, Brendan Leipsic pulled off a patient drag-and-snip to give them the lead after one.
The scoreline improved for Toronto midway through the second period, as Kasperi Kapanen rushed the puck up and fed Andreas Johnsson, who scored his sixth goal of the playoffs to put them up 3-1. But it was a goal that masked an issue; Toronto was losing the grip of momentum, and rapidly. Johnsson’s tally was only their second shot on goal in the period, and it ended up being their last; not helped by a pair of penalties taken in the middle of the frame.
The Crunch, however, pressed consistently throughout, and that led to a rally. Matt Taormina responded with a goal that brought his team within one two and a half minutes later, and after Steven Oleksy took an interference penalty for a hit that left Tye McGinn shaken up, they wasted no time equalizing, with Adam Erne needing just eleven seconds to find the net upon the start of the powerplay.
This, in theory, would lead to a long third period of equal footing, but Syracuse had no intention of letting that be the case. It took just eight seconds for Matthew Peca to break through the Marlies’ defence to bury what would eventually become the game-winner, but not before Cory Conacher added an insurance tally with less than two minutes to go and Yanni Gourde added an empty netter.
While Kasimir Kaskisuo has had better showings than his 24-in-29 of today, it’s hard to not look at the skaters in this one more so than the goaltending. Toronto took just seven shots between the start of the second period and the final buzzer; an unacceptable total in an elimination game. Simply put, they gave their opponents all the opportunity to come back in a game that they had legitimate control of. That shouldn’t be what you remember the whole season for, it’s a decidedly sour note for a team that turned things around in the late winter to go from bottom-feeder to competitor; especially in a series where they could have solidified themselves as the most dominant team in the division.
You can still make that argument to an extent, but the gravity of their losses, all four of which came on the road and by multiple goals, makes it a difficult argument. You could argue that they would’ve had fun taking on the Providence Bruins and perhaps whoever wins in the west, but they didn’t do enough to get themselves there. It’s over and done with at this point; now we move on to breaking down the year that was (keep your eyes peeled over the next few weeks) and looking forward to October.