A come from behind 6-5 OT victory on Thursday night put the Marlies up 1-0 in their best-of-five series against the Utica Comets.

The Lineup

The Marlies opted to put Keith Petruzzelli in net for to start the series with Dennis Hildeby as the backup. Erik Källgren is still with the Leafs while the circumstances of Matt Murray's injury remain unclear. This game also had the return of Mac Hollowell who has been out injured from a fractured kneecap (OWW!) in January.

The Comets (New Jersey Devils affiliates) started Nico Daws in net who is a 2020 draft pick of the Devils, plucked from the Guelph Storm, though he's originally from Germany. He started 33 games for the Comets this season, which was actually more than any other as in total they had six different goalies play in at least one game.

The Game

The first period went completely awry for the Marlies. The team looked like it had some rust to shake off after over ten days without playing a game, including right off the bat in the first period taking an easily avoidable penalty for too many men on the ice. This led to the Comets first goal on their power play with this weird floater puck from the blueline passing over Petruzzelli.

Things got worse with a second Comets goal to put them up 2-0 which would hold to the end of the first period. In the second things went from bad to dire when only two minutes in the Comets added a third goal to go up 3-0.

But that's when it all changed. The Marlies finally started skating fast and had passes connect and then threw down the gauntlet, scoring three goals of their own in the next ten minutes.

Pontus Holmberg made it 3-1

Topi Niemelä made it 3-2

And then Logan Shaw tied up the game 3-3 on the power play.

The second period alternated between the Comets going ahead, the Marlies catching up, and then Semyon Der-Arguchintsev got the Marlies ahead once again.

Unfortunately, the Comets made a late push with their goalie pulled to get the tying goal again, which meant the game went to...


Ah, overtime playoff hockey. It's really exciting, nerve-wracking, and as a reporter who once covered a Marlies game that went to 11:30 p.m. with triple overtime it's rather concerning when you have to work in morning. But this time, the game was closed out in only the first overtime by Joseph Blandisi with only 90 seconds left in the period.

After the Game

The Marlies skipped the AHL's play-in round, which is where the Comets defeated the Laval Rocket to join this series. That round added an extra whole week off for the Marlies, and Nick Abruzzese said it was tough to suddenly come back to play against a team which had been in games that whole time, but they adjusted quickly. "There's a lot of resilience with the team," he said, adding "we continued to chip away and stay with it." On overtime, he said "we knew what we had to do, and we weren't going to let one goal at an inopportune time to ruin us."

Mac Hollowell said he was happy to be back after his three month recovery and explained: "conditioning wise, I felt really good." Coach Greg Moore added he exceeded expectations in his first game back "I was not expecting him to move as well as he did," and that "he was really dancing out there and you could tell he looked confident."

Much praise was given to captain Logan Shaw who once again showed who helped turn the tide of the game momentum twice. Moore summed it up simply with "our Captain has done it all season."

The series is setup in the 2-2-1 format, so the next game is here in Toronto on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. It's still early, but having Game #1 done with a win means the nerves should be gone for the next game, so there's no excuse now not to start that game with a bang.

Here's the full game highlights package.