As Quinnipiac Bobcats goalie Michael Garteig famously said of his then Yale University counterpart, “well, you know, I’ve never lost to Alex Lyon.” Sam Prevot of the Blue Line Station was telling me this story as the Toronto Marlies defeated the Lehigh Valley Phantoms by a score of 5-0 in game three of their Eastern Conference Final series. Andreas Johnsson, Carl Grundstrom, Mason Marchment, and Ben Smith all leave the rink with goals in the win. Garret Sparks also earned himself a 16-save shutout along with his ninth playoff win.
Andreas Johnsson - Miro Aaltonen - Carl Grundstrom
Dmytro Timashov - Chris Mueller - Ben Smith
Pierre Engvall - Frederik Gauthier - Colin Greening
Mason Marchment - Adam Brooks - Trevor Moore
Travis Dermott - Timothy Liljegren
Martin Marincin - Justin Holl
Calle Rosen - Vincent LoVerde
Calvin Pickard suffered an illness in-between game two and three, so prospect Ian Scott backed up Garret Sparks on Wednesday night.
Barely a minute into the first game in Allentown, Johnsson pounces on a giveaway by Travis Sanheim and sets up Grundstrom for the game's opening goal. Aaltonen lost the initial faceoff in the offensive zone, but Johnsson hounded Sanheim all around the net, and with Aaltonen covering the far wall he was able to get the puck to an open Grundstrom in the middle. The first line for the Marlies strikes yet again, they have had five of the last eight Marlies goals in this series.
The Marlies spent the next stretch of the game defending two power plays. First to Dermott for holding after he pulled down a Lehigh Valley forward behind the net. The second penalty went to Dermott’s defense partner Liljegren for interference. That pairing has not shown their best stuff in this game so far, but they’re pretty much always good for one or two or ten great plays a game. No harm, no foul as the Toronto penalty killers were able to tick off the four minutes with relative ease, keeping the Phantoms to only three shots by the fifteenth-minute mark of the first.
The Marlies would get their own power play opportunity late in the first when Cole Bardreau got called for slashing. The power play wasn’t great in the offensive zone, but a misplay in the neutral zone by the Swedish PP unit led to Johnsson having to show off his elite stride. Johnsson was several paces away from big Phantoms defenseman Maxim Lamarche as he stole the puck and raced towards goalie Sparks, but was able to catch up to his man and steal the puck right from under Lamarche’s nose before he could even get a shot off. It was yet another example of a play from a player who should be a prominent NHLer yesterday.
The Phantoms came out of the first intermission flying, applying heavy pressure on the Marlies for the first five minutes. Unfortunately for them, the first line for the Marlies stepped on the ice. Aaltonen, Johnsson and Grundstrom created space using their fluid puck movement and positioning, opening up Johnsson for a bang-in goal from the side of Lyon’s net.
Trevor Moore with a RELENTLESS defensive effort to stick and poke checck the puck away from a Phantoms forward. Brooks nearly feeds Marchment for a goal on the ensuing 2-on-1.— Hardev Lad (@HardevLad) May 24, 2018
The Marlies kill the mood at the PPL Center just a little bit more when Brooks and Moore work together to steal the puck from the Phantoms top defensive pair and feed Marchment for not one, but two chances. Marchment made good on the latter.
As the period comes to an end, Mikhail Vorobyev gets called for slashing, allowing the Marlies to pull Sparks and ice six skaters until the Phantoms touch the puck. We all know this is a thing. Unfortunately, the referees don’t know this as they blow a potential scoring chance dead in the offensive zone because they think the Marlies have too many men on the ice! Head coach Sheldon Keefe pleads his case, but it is a fruitless effort and he is eventually forced to put Marchment in the box.
Before the 3rd period starts... The #Marlies were called for "to many men" because they had 6 players on the ice, but the goaltender was pulled... 🤔— David Nestico (@davidnestico200) May 24, 2018
AHL refs are something else lol... #MarliesLive pic.twitter.com/p7MqahDYCa
THEYRE NOT CHANGING THE CALL— Hardev Lad (@HardevLad) May 24, 2018
OF COURSE THEY ARENT pic.twitter.com/rUl886l1jN— ⚡️🤸🏻♀️Lauren Kelly🏌🏻♀️⚡️ (@laurkelly24) May 24, 2018
The game had already gotten away from the Phantoms, but it got much worse when Marchment was cross-checked into the Lyon’s Den away from the play. The Marlies would score twice on the following power play. Oh, not for a cross-checking penalty, but an unsportsmanlike penalty by goaltender Lyon, who kicked Marchment in the gut while he was down.
Alex Lyon gets a game misconduct for kicking Mason Marchment in the crease; Dustin Tokarski is now in net for Lehigh Valley. pic.twitter.com/IGQ9QJv8Ln— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) May 24, 2018
Not only did it give the Marlies a five-minute power play — more than making up for the missed too many men call— but they also get to face Dustin Tokarski who is still wearing a mask featuring an Anaheim Mighty Duck for the rest of the game, and potentially Game 4.
Captain Smith would get the best revenge on the Phantom’s backup netminder when he scored twice, sealing the game, and potentially the series.
One more game to go!
Marlies are victorious! pic.twitter.com/QfHaXV5Jbn— Pension Plan Puppets (@PPPLeafs) May 24, 2018
We’ll see you on Thursday night for Game 4 between these two teams. Puck drop will be a little after 7pm Eastern.