The Marlies had a big victory Sunday, pivoting hard from Saturday’s “it was 4-1” collapse; a humiliating overtime loss to the Albany Devils. It was a very different atmosphere on the ice Sunday with Garret Sparks in net, stopping 31 of 33 shots-on-goal, and leading his team to victory over a division rival.
Outside, it was almost a blizzard before the start of the game, but 4,342 fans made it to Ricoh Coliseum, and they would not be disappointed. Early in the first period you could already feel a certain energy on the Marlies’ bench, and the feeling of victory in the air.
Travis Dermott got the Marlies off to a quick lead, with an assist by Dmytro Timashov.
The Power play goal was Dermott’s third of the season. It was a great, fast start for the team after being shutdown so hard at the end of Saturday’s game. The Marlies did not make it easy for themselves though, taking three minor penalties through the rest of the period, but they managed to kill them off, and still get some scoring chances in between. Byron Froese rung a shot off the post, and, with about two and a half minutes left, Andreas Johnsson had a breakaway chance, but he couldn’t keep control of the puck. Still, it was a nice start.
The second period started off with a lot of action. Seth Griffith and the Devils’ Karl Stollery were sent both sent to the box for roughing and it was four-on-four. The next goal came from an unexpected source, Justin Holl.
Holl has had expanded special teams ice-time lately, and it has paid off. In Saturday’s game, Holl had a short-handed goal, then Sunday he scored this one, his third of the season. He wasn’t done for the day, but, first, the Devils’ reminded everyone at Ricoh Coliseum that they weren’t giving up so easily when Carter Camper shot a goal one past Sparks.
Frank Corrado then wound up taking a double-minor for high-sticking. However Froese found himself on a breakaway and scored a short-handed goal on the Devil’s Ken Appleby.
While the result was favourable to the Marlies, coach Sheldon Keefe is not pleased with the amount of penalties his team has been taking, particularly for stick related sloppiness. “We take a lot of penalties as a team. We’re not a physical team by any means. A lot of them are stick penalties and things like that. It’s an area that we’ve talked about, and we’re tried to address, and clean-up in our game.”
Right now the Marlies are a team on the bubble of the playoffs and Keefe is aware something as simple as an extra high-sticking call each game can make a big difference in the long run. “We take way too many penalties as a group, and those kind of careless ones are killers that make it hard on everyone.”
The alternating goals continued and the Devil’s defenceman Reece Scarlett got another past Sparks to end scoring in the second period.
The third period started with the Marlies up 3-2. There was tension in the building because of what happened in Saturday’s game, but, in a complete reversal, it was the Marlies who slammed shut the door in the third period, and dominated the game..
The Devil’s Kevin Rooney took the first of several big hits in the game as the Marlies started getting chippy, and the Devils got separate. Sparks made big saves, shutting down any scoring chances the Devil’s were able to muster. Through the whole game he made 31 saves on 33 shots-on-goal, the final save being his 499th of the season.
Corrado scored his first goal with the Marlies after hitting the post on the prior attack.
Holl then scored his second of the game, and fourth of the season. It was a big weekend for the defenceman who had had only 1 goal in his first 45 games. “You’re making some noise, buddy! WOOO!” yelped an excited Rinat Valiev as Holl stepped off the ice after being awarded first star of the game.
Already up 5-2, Andreas Johnsson, who in the second period had already showed great work to keep attacks alive in the face of strong pressure from the Devils, was rewarded with his 13th goal of the season, assisted by Froese.
There was some excitement towards the end of the game as the Marlies had to kill off another high-sticking penalty, this time committed by Johnsson. There was also an odd incident with a loose puck in the crease but two Devils players had tripped and piled up on top of Sparks who didn’t look like he could move at the bottom of the pile. The refs didn’t stop play, and fortunately the puck was cleared.
The game ended 6-2 for the Marlies, and SOG 33-31 for the Marlies. The Marlies sit tied with the St. John’s IceCaps in the North Division with 52 points.
What’s up next?
The Marlies will travel to face the Utica Comets on Wednesday at 7:00PM. They played the Comets in last weekend’s back-to-back series and won both games. The Comets are chasing the Marlies in the North Division standings, and it’s the last meeting of these team until April.
Note that you can catch the Marlies at the Air Canada Centre when they play the Binghamton Senators on Family Day.
Here is the Leafs TV game recap.