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Game 3 Preview: Hershey Bears @ Toronto Marlies

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"The margin for error is very slim." - Sheldon Keefe

Christian Bonin - TSGPhoto.com

Hershey Bears @ Toronto Marlies
7:30 PM EDT on TSN 2

Down two games to none definitely isn't where the Marlies want to be. Fortunately, due to an unusual schedule to accommodate the circus in Hershey this weekend (I'm serious) tonight will be the first of, hopefully, three games straight at Ricoh Coliseum.

Recap of the series so far:

Game 1: Marlies lose 3-1
William Nylander opened the scoring early in the first period. He's been a shot generating machine, as always, but this was only his third goal of the whole playoffs. He's been robbed of some great scoring chances (this one from game 2).

The Bears responded with a goal in the second, then another in the third. The SOG were steady through the game. The Marlies ended up with 20 SOG to the Bears 23. Toronto took four penalties through the game, and the Bears nailed the coffin shut. scoring on the last one about halfway through the third period. Antoine Bibeau finished with a 0.870 SV%.

The calls to play Garret Sparks were pretty loud at that point. Sheldon Keefe decided to make the switch for game 2.

Game 2: Marlies lose 3-2 (OT)

Unlike the slow and steady pace of the first game, this one was nuts. The Marlies had 15 SOG in the first period, compared to the Bears 2. Unfortunately, one of those two Bears shots slipped past Sparks. However Connor Brown scored, so the first period ended with a tie. The second period again had a lopsided SOG tally: 12-5 for the Marlies. The Bears scored on a power play, but then Arcobello tied it up. That was surprisingly only Arcobello's second playoff goal.

There was no scoring in the third period, so the game went to overtime. It really could have been either team that won. Josh Leivo barley missed a scoring chance on Peters, and shortly after, the Bears got it past Sparks. Bears' goalie Justin Peters had a 0.950 SV%, stopping 38 of 40 SOG.

Sparks, who also ended with a 0.870 SV% like Bibeau in game 1, noted it was a difficult game to play. It was hard both because he was coming in cold, not having played for 17 days, but more so because the lopsided possession causing long stretches where he had nothing to do but stand and watch the play in the opposite zone.

Game 3: Tonight at 7:30PM

Both teams have now had a few days to refresh and recharge themselves before tonight's game. Sheldon Keefe appreciates the chance to catch-up and look carefully at what they can do better. "When you’re in a hole, like we are, it’s good to have a break to get reset".

The Marlies had two practices this week, and have shared their thoughts about how they got where they are, and their plan to tackle the Bears in the next games.

Keefe liked how they played in game 2, generating lots of scoring chances, but recognizes figuring out how to score on Bears starting goalie Justin Peters is one of the keys to success. "We’ve got to get to their goaltender. We’ve scored 1 and then 2 goals. You don’t win many hockey games when that is the case."

Connor Brown says the team has been focusing on special teams during their rest. "[There's been] a lot of video to go over; power play and penalty kill." This makes sense as the Marlies have not had a power play goal in the past four  games, though Brown did score a short handed goal in that time.

Nylander, who had five shots on goal in game 2, knows he has to keep up that strong offensive pace. "It would be different if we weren’t creating chances right now. Then we would be more worried. We know we’ve been able to create a lot lately and we just have to convert."

The remaining big question is who will start in net for the Marlies tonight. Keefe is staying tight lipped. When asked if he had made a decision he said no more than "Yeah. I have."

On the opposite side, Hershey Bears coach Troy Mann will be sticking with Peters, whom he said had his "best game of the year" on Saturday.

Mann is preparing his team for another raucous start tonight, with the Marlies offence applying pressure right from the first face-off. "That first 10 minutes in Toronto Wednesday night is going to be much like we saw [Saturday]. Peters is going to have to be unbelievable."

The game is nearly sold out, but a small number of tickets are still available for tonight's game with our discount code "PPPMARLIES16" which gets you 30% off your seats! Follow this link here!

Christopher Hatzitolios will be at the game for PPP and live tweeting on the @PPPLeafs account.

Travel Notes

It's going a really busy evening downtown. There's a concert at the ACC and at SkyDome, plus the Raptors game is being broadcast in Maple Leaf Square. Plan for some extra travel time.

The TTC Exhibition Loop is still closed for construction. 509 and 511 streetcars are turning back at Lighthouse Loop on Fleet street, which is a 10-15 minute walk from Ricoh. There is allegedly a shuttle bus that traverses this distance, but I wouldn't count on it.