The Toronto Marlies took the Laval Rocket all the way to overtime on Saturday, but wound up walking out of Coca-Cola Coliseum with only one point. An unfortunate penalty in the OT period gave the Rocket a 4-on-3 advantage to win a game in which the two teams otherwise looked evenly matched.
Marlies lines on Saturday
These lines held only through the first two periods and then Marlies Coach Sheldon Keefe shook things up a bit “I didn’t like that line, to be honest,” he said referring to Carcone with Mueller and Bracco. He flipped Carcone with Klimchuk for the third period. “Carcone is playing his first game here with new teammates, new system, all those types of things and it looked that way. I thought once we changed the lines up in the third period we got a little bit more legs from everyone, including Carcone.”
Carcone arrived on the Marlies in the trade with the Canucks for Josh Leivo. Carcone has spent his whole pro-career to date with the Utica Comets. Carcone had 6 goals and 11 assists in 20 games with the Comets before joining the Marlies. Unlike Klimchuk who came from the Stockton Heat in the trade for Andrew Nielsen, Carcone has played his whole career in the Marlies’ Division, so he has the advantage of already being completely familiar with all the Marlies frequent opponents.
Also of note, Gagner has returned from the Canucks. We learned the Canucks promised the Leafs to loan him to the Marlies any time they don’t have him up playing in the NHL.
As noted post-game by Sheldon Keefe, the Marlies were playing well, but chasing the Rocket. They kicked things off quickly with a goal by Alex Belzile with a mess in front of Kaskisuo.
Karl Alzner's shot creates havoc in front of the net, Alex Belzile cashes in for his fourth goal of the year. pic.twitter.com/Z6ng3QHFSQ— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 9, 2018
Yes, it is that Karl Alzner who Scott refers to. The one the Canadiens signed to a five year one-way contract last season. He’s earning a salary of $6M this season playing in the AHL.
The game featured the annual Teddy Bear Toss for the benefit of the Yonge Street Mission. Last year, Bracco scored the first Marlies goal which set off the launching of the bears. This year he had a repeat performance, and it was a legitimately great goal too.
The Rocket took the lead again before the end of the period, despite some great work by both the Gagner and Mueller lines to keep up the pressure on the Rocket in their own zone.
In the second period it was our old acquaintance Byron Froese who scored first.
Byron Froese puts the pressure on Borgman to force a turnover, and snipes his ninth goal of the year. pic.twitter.com/TlXv2jSjSU— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 9, 2018
It was a sequence of flubs by Borgman which lead up to this goal. He was inconsistent through the whole game, at times his normal physical self, other times struggling. However by the third period he had calmed down, and he and Mueller came together for a great scoring chance later in the game. Indeed, a lot of the Marlies did not look like their normal selves at times through this game.
Moore scored next on a power play to put the Marlies within one at the end of the second period. Bracco showed some incredible patience here, making Rocket goalie Michael McNiven commit to a shot from his angle before passing the puck quickly to Moore who has a wide open net. It’s a great setup and required really fast thinking by Bracco.
The Marlies had several power play opportunities in the third period to tie up the game but couldn’t get off many shots on the net. Even after setting up their attacks in the Rocket zone, they foiled it themselves with sloppy passes between the forwards and defenceman. Gagner in particular had a few flubs in a row at his position by the boards which led to quick turnovers to the Rocket who cleared the puck.
Eventually, in the dying minutes, they would finally get one in the net to tie up the game on yet another power play.
The game went to OT, but it didn’t last long. Subban took an unfortunate penalty, and the Rocket scored on the four-on-three power play.
Simon Despres with an absolute laser from the point wins it in overtime for the Rocket. pic.twitter.com/i3hqNad47p— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 8, 2018
I hope Alzner bought his whole team (and Subban) a steak dinner for this win.
“Reality is that we chased the game.” - Sheldon Keefe
Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe summed it up by saying the team played well, but the slow start left them unable to catch up. “Reality is that we chased the game. They scored first. They got all the power plays early. That’s not a recipe for success,” he explained, adding he was happy with the team overall. “That’s something we have to continue to fix, but we played a fine game.”
Chris Mueller agreed, adding some specific issues which he noticed. “I thought we played a pretty solid game. We made some mistakes in our d-zone, took a couple penalties and they executed, but, all in all I thought that was one of our better games in a while.”
Mueller said the team knows the challenge they face to climb the standings right now. “We’ll take the point [today] but we know we need two points [Sunday]”.
The Marlies play the Belleville Senators on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Sportsnet 360. It’s a quick turn around, and the Marlies badly need the two points in this game as they presently sit right behind the Senators in the standings.