The Toronto Marlies see themselves get swept this weekend as they lose 5-1 to the AHL affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets, the Manitoba Moose. The Moose scored two empty-net goals and Michael Hutchinson stood on his head so it’s not as bad as the scoreboard made it out to be, but a loss is a loss.
This is the second game in as many days for the Marlies and Moose. They played to a 2-1 Moose victory on Saturday afternoon. Garret Sparks stopped 25 of 26 shots and Jeremy Bracco scored the goal to bring the bears down with 20.3 seconds left in the game.
Roster changes from Saturday’s game to Sunday’s game are as follows. For the Marlies, Martin Marincin got called up by the Maple Leafs so he won’t be playing. Neither will Travis Dermott who is presumably a healthy scratch. Timothy Liljegren is off to Buffalo for the World Juniors. Despite not having their three best defensemen, the Marlies still have a very decent corps with Holl, Rosen, LoVerde, Nielsen, Valiev, and Paliotta.
Andreas Johnsson - Miro Aaltonen - Trevor Moore
Kerby Rychel - Ben Smith - Jeremy Bracco
Dmytro Timashov - Chris Mueller - Martins Dzierkals
Rich Clune - Frederik Gauthier - Colin Greening
Andrew Nielsen - Justin Holl
Rinat Valiev - Vincent LoVerde
Michael Paliotta - Calle Rosen
Calvin Pickard gets the start for the baby Leafs.
Early in the game Patrice Cormier almost throws Rich Clune into the bench with a hit. The two would lock arms (and legs) for a few seconds but nothing would eventually come of it.
After playing the first five minutes of the game in their own zone, Nic Petan fortunately takes an offensive zone hooking penalty sending the Marlies to the power play.
Soon after the penalty expires, Ben Smith is able to pick up a pass from Rinat Valiev who has joined him on the rush and snipe on Michael Hutchinson — who is playing on back-to-back nights — from the high slot. Smith’s 12th goal of the year leads the Marlies in scoring. The primary assist was Valiev’s second point of the season, passing Garret Sparks who also had one assist going into this game. LoVerde earned himself the second assist for his break-out pass.
Holl gets called for a hook in the defensive zone, sending Manitoba to the power play. Petan makes up for his penalty earlier in the game, scoring a power play goal for the Moose with five seconds left in the man advantage. Petan’s one-timer from the low slot was deflected right as he shot it, letting the puck flutter over Pickard’s shoulder and behind him into the net. Tough break.
The Marlies made a few too many mistakes defensively in the first period. Andreas Johnsson mixed himself up on the penalty kill, attempting to cover Aaltonen, leaving the right side open for business. The Moose would score on that power play but not as a result of the mix-up.
Rosen saw himself get turnstiled at the Marlies blueline. His partner Paliotta was able to partially cover for him but it still resulted in a shot attempt that went high and wide.
Lastly, Nielsen sent a grenade up the middle of the slot from behind the net and it resulted in a turnover that lead to a scoring chance for Manitoba. The bantam team, the Stouffville Clippers, that was sitting — but mostly standing — in front of us gave an audible groan when that play happened. The coach turned to his team and said “That play looked pretty familiar, eh. It’s a pretty move, but even when it’s tape-to-tape it never works out.” Wise words.
The Moose score from a point shot by Kirill Gotovets that gets deflected on it’s way in. Pickard is adamant that his blocker was interfered with or that it was deflected with a high stick (he has a case for both) but the goal still stands. Marlies down early in the third. Brenden Lemieux and Buddy Robinson pick up the assists on the goal. Yes, that is his real name.
Pickard pushes his own net off after Moose score, waving his arms that it’s high-sticked and looking at video screen. Forces ref to come put it back on. Not happy but it’s 2-1 Moose.— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) December 17, 2017
Mid-way through the second, Justin Holl slashes JC Lipon, causing him to bleed. Holl and Lipon get into a pushing match after the whistle, this leads to a skirmish between the two teams, and results in four minutes of penalties for the both players. Holl gets four for high-sticking, and Lipon gets four minutes in penalties for retaliating — two for slashing and two for roughing. The penalties are coincidental so we remain at 5-on-5 with Holl and Lipon being allowed to return to the game after four minutes plus a whistle.
Hutchinson has been the best goaltender in the AHL, literally, and he’s shown it in this game as well stopping Rich Clune on a partial break as well as tough, screened point shots from Nielsen, Holl, Rosen, and co.
Lemieux gets called for interference with under five minutes to go in the period. This is as good of a chance as any to tie the game heading into the third. Timashov gets a great shot off from the right-wing half-wall but Hutchinson snares it with his glove. Is this how it feels for opponents who have to play Garret Sparks?
Nielsen blows a tire in the offensive zone as the Marlies are breaking out for a power play. The Moose forward catches Pickard too far out of his crease and goes for the wrap-around. Miro Aaltonen dives into the net and blocks the shot with the back of his head.
And that’s how we go to intermission.
The Marlies start the final period with an offensive push. Dzierkals and Timashov both using their skating ability to give each other some good looks at Hutchinson’s net. Bracco and Mueller almost team up for a shot-tip chance, but Mueller’s deflection goes up over the net. Their line with Ben Smith were able to draw a slashing call against the Moose’s Gotovets. The Marlies will make good on their third power play chance, right?
On the power play, Kurt Schilling — his real name is Cameron but that’s not important — boards Aaltonen into the French’s Ketchup sign sending the Marlies to a 5-on-3 for 40 seconds. From the goal-line, Johnsson makes eye-contact with Mueller and sends him a pass for an open net chance. Unfortunately, Buddy Robinson gets a stick on the puck, breaking up the play. At the end of it all, the Marlies weren’t able to score with their 3:20 of extra man play, disappointingly going 0/5 so far on the night.
Ben Smith gets two great chances at both the beginning and end of their shift. Hutchinson makes a clutch save with his pad on the first chance, then goes full snow angel to stop a fore-hand back-hand move from Smith from a rebound created by Bracco. It’s going to take something special to beat Hutch.
Jack Roslovic steals the puck from Holl, who is playing with Valiev because Nielsen appears to have been benched for the third period, and he snipes short-side high on Pickard. A perfect shot from a terrible turnover. sigh.
Manitoba makes it 3-1. Jack Roslovic scores on the Moose's first shot in over ten minutes.— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) December 17, 2017
Sheldon Keefe pulls Pickard with over three minutes to play and almost immediately, Cormier scores into the empty net. Buddy from Manitoba gets the assist. There are still three minutes left in the game, but the fans see the writing on the wall and they head to the exits.
Gotovits takes a tripping penalty giving the Marlies a 6-on-4 man advantage, but after another great sprawling save from Hutchinson, Buddy Robinson gets the puck into the empty net. Big night for Buddy with two empty net points.
I think my favourite part of the game was the Three Stars of the Night. Nic Petan had a goal and three shots earning him the third star, Michael Hutchinson was the second star stopping 27 of 28 shots. The first star? Buddy Robinson with a three point night (1g, 2a). Sounds like a big night for Buddy if you ignore the fact that two of his points weren’t scored on a goalie. If this doesn’t convince you that the Stars of the Night are ridiculous, I don’t know what will. I’m sure even Buddy would say the same thing.