The Toronto Marlies kicked-off March Break with a game against the Belleville Senators Monday afternoon at Scotiabank Arena. Unfortunately, all did not go well for the home team. Entering the third period up one goal, the Marlies couldn’t add another, while the Senators scored three times, including one on an empty net in the final moments, to win the game 5-3. The Marlies were left searching for what went wrong in a game with several unexpected twists and turns.

Marlies lines on Monday

The Marlies are still playing with a huge number of key players injured, including Mason Marchment, Chris Mueller, Andreas Borgman, Calle Rosen and Colin Greening among others. It’s hardly an ideal situation, though they may be getting in some backup soon in the form of presently unsigned prospects.

The most notable unexpected moment in the game was Kasimir Kaskisuo unexpectedly appearing in net for the start of the second period. After the game, Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe explained that Hutchinson said in the first intermission that he reported “just wasn’t feeling right.” Keefe added they will investigate over the next couple of days his status for the next weekend.

There wasn’t much elaboration beyond that, but I have to wonder if there’s something in the air of Scotiabank Arena right now as many of the Maple Leafs also reported being sick, and even one of the on-ice officials bowed out in the middle of Monday night’s Leafs game, feeling too unwell to carry on.

The Game

It was only 30 seconds into the game when Jeremy Bracco kicked-off the scoring, giving the Marlies the momentum they would later note they lost in the game. I do really like this goal though. Liljegren slides it right through to Bracco’s stick and he has Hogberg out of position on the wrong side of the net.

After the game Bracco was quite happy about that goal, laughing while saying Liljegren is challenging him as the best playmaker on the team, adding “Those young Swedish D-Men are a treat to play with.”

The Senators got one back only a few moments later to tie the game. It was by Jim O’Brien, his first goal of the season, of course.

Rich Clune had the obligatory March Break fight against Joseph LaBate and they capped off the excitement of the period beyond some solid scoring chances generated by Gagne, and Baptiste and Timashov.

The second period brought Kaskisuo out to the net, as mentioned above, and it was where the Marlies scored of both their two other goals in the game. The first was a rare one by defenceman Vincent LoVerde. It was his third of the season.

The Senators then continued the game of see-saw getting one back and then Adam Brooks continued the game getting one back for the Marlies.

There was another good chance for the Bracco Liljegren pair in the period, in this case the opposite way around, but the Senators goalie Marcus Hogberg was really on point.

The Marlies came out stronger in the third period, with Rich Clune putting on a great attack and getting a strong scoring chance himself.

The game then took a surprise twist a few moments later with a double-minor penalty assigned to Brooks for “attempted head butting.” Cue the Sideshow Bob quotes here about how they don’t hand out a prize for “attempted chemistry.” I’ve looked at what happened and I don’t get it, though it’s difficult to see exactly what happened from the available angels in the replays. I certainly saw nothing live.

In any case, the Marlies PK performed some solid work and killed off the whole four-minute penalty. Pierre Engvall even managed to turn a few moments against the Senators, making a controlled zone entry  against their power play group and getting in for an attack.

That was it for the Marlies though. The Senators scored, then scored again on Kaskisuo who looked scrambly at times. The momentum was gone. Carcone said “It definitely deflates you a little bit, but we have to do a good coming back, and creating the momentum and getting back to it. We didn’t do a good job of that.”

The final blow was an empty net goal against the Marlies with under two minutes left in the game.

Post-Game Thoughts

Sheldon Keefe noted that the Senators have been a top team in the league as of late, and his team looked worn out playing against them. “I thought we were exhausted. Frankly, I thought it was the second period that got us. That’s really where we started to get tired, and then we just didn’t have anything left there in the third at all. I don’t think the third was nearly as bad as the second was, but it went in the net in the third period.”

Keefe elaborated there was a lot to like about the game, and a lot to be concerned about, “We scored first, so we got that box checked. We scored on special teams; a four-on-four goal, and a power play goal. So all those things happened, but then you can’t give up a soft one like we did early. You can’t turn the puck over in the offensive zone in the second period like we did, as it’s hard to then get the game back.”

It will be interesting to see how some rest and time off this week will prepare them for the busy weekend ahead. The Marlies may be getting some reinforcements. We will watch to see if anyone is signed later this week.

Rumours of Maple Leafs defenceman signings: the long and the short of it

Here’s Liljegren’s take on the game, or “T” as Bracco calls him.

The Marlies Next Games

The Marlies will be heading out on a road trip through the AHL Atlantic Division, playing three games in three days starting Friday night in Hershey against the Bears (Washington Capitals affiliates). They will return to Toronto for back-to-back games against the Rochester Americans (Buffalo Sabres affiliates) on the weekend of the 23rd.