The Toronto Marlies extended their winning streak to six games thanks to another excellent performance from Garret Sparks.
The 2-1 victory was the Marlies‘ ninth in their www.goldenknightsproshops.com/brayden-mcnabb-c-1_27.html last ten games and moves them to the top of the AHL standings with a .789 winning percentage.
Playing the first of four games scheduled at the ACC this season, the Marlies looked like their parent club of late in that they lacked urgency early in the contest.
Turnovers were an issue early as Jordan Murray almost put the Senators ahead two minutes in if not for a right pad save from Sparks. The goaltender produced an even better save to deny Max Reinhart at the six-minute mark after the forward breezed past the Marlies defense and in alone on net.
The first power play of the game led to Toronto taking an undeserved lead with 13:40 on the clock. After winning the initial faceoff, Chris Mueller dished down low to Kerby Rychel, whose no-look backhand pass across the crease found Andreas Johnsson for an easy tap-in.
The Marlies’ 1-0 goal did little to reverse the flow of the game. The Senators could easily have tied up the game after being gift-wrapped a pair of scoring chances.
The first mistake by Andrew Nielsen led to an odd-man rush, but Sparks bailed him out.
Travis Dermott then threw the puck in front of his own net straight to Chris Kelly low in the slot, where the veteran forward looked to the sky in frustration after Sparks produced yet another fantastic save to keep Belleville scoreless.
Senators goaltender Danny Taylor was almost a passenger between the pipes for Belleville, but he had to be sharp to deny Mason Marchment from doubling Toronto’s lead late in the period after a nice move around the net by Miro Aaltonen.
The middle frame featured little improvement from the Marlies’ point of view. They continued to be thoroughly out-worked and couldn’t find an answer for the B-Sens clogging up the neutral zone.
Toronto also couldn’t capitalize on a power play carried over from the first period before finding themselves on the penalty kill shortly afterwards. The PK did its job, but within seconds of Nielsen re-entering the fray, Belleville levelled the scoreline.
Garret Sparks came out to play the puck behind his net and left the puck in the trapezoid for one of his defencemen to collect. Martin Marincin and Calle Rosen were not on the same page; both stopped skating, anticipating a pass from their goaltender. That allowed Filip Chlapik to grab the loose puck and tee up Reinhart, who lifted the www.authenticnhlmapleleafsshop.com/joffrey-lupul-jersey-c-1_27.html puck over Sparks as he was scrambling to get himself set following the initial miscommunication.
The Marlies mustered just five shots through the second period and were thankful to Sparks turning aside Daniel Ciampini and Jack Rodewald to ensure it was an even through 40 minutes.
Whatever Sheldon Keefe said in the room during intermission had the desired effect as the Marlies came out and dominated the final frame of regulation.
Taylor was called upon to make 16 saves in the third period including a couple of top-drawer stops inside the final two minutes. Sparks was a passenger by comparison while facing just four shots, but, like Taylor, he had to be alert in the dying moments of regulation to ensure Toronto headed to overtime for the first time this season.
The teams shared a plethora of chances during the five minutes of 3-on-3 hockey but hit the net just four times combined. The two registered by Belleville were excellent scoring chances, but Sparks stonewalled Rodewald and Gabriel Gagne.
Several near misses for the Marlies included one last look in the final seconds with Johnsson in possession in the slot. The Swede picked out Marincin, who wound up for a slapshot that Chris Kelly bravely threw himself into the path of.
With a shootout needed to decide on the extra point, Aaltonen jumped over the boards first for the Marlies. The Finnish forward skated right to left before firing back against the grain, beating Taylor high glove side.
Sparks then turned aside Reinhart’s five-hole attempt before Dmytro Timashov scored a near carbon copy of Aaltonen’s goal to put Toronto within one save of victory.
Gabriel Gagne attempted to fake a slap shot and beat the goaltender in tight, but Sparks brought out the poke-check to seal the extra point for his team.
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