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Recap: Marlies defeat Penguins 4-3 in OT thriller

Ben Smith and Adam Brooks left the Penguins defenders in the dust to score the game winner in overtime.

Christian Bonin - TSGPhoto.com

Tuesday night had a rare appearance at Ricoh Coliseum by the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins from the Atlantic Division. The Marlies visited the Penguins at Mohegan Sun Arena back in November and lost that game 4-2.

The Penguins sit second in the Atlantic Division, starting the game with an impressive 37-9-4-2 record. Like the Marlies, their young goalies have earned NHL experience this season and that has done a lot to help the team rise in the standings.

Marlies Lines Tuesday

Trevor MooreMiro Aaltonen – Josh Kestner
Dmytro TimashovChris MuellerBen Smith
Colin GreeningFrederik GauthierKyle Baun
Mason MarchmentAdam BrooksJeremy Bracco

Andreas Borgman – Martin Marincin
Calle RosenTimothy Liljegren
Andrew NielsenVincent LoVerde

Garret Sparks started in goal again. Tristan Jarry started for the Penguins.

Not playing: Justin Holl, Rich Clune, Derian Plouffe, Jesper Lindgren, Evan Buitenshuis

Jesper Lindgren is confirmed to be with the team now. You can see him in the photo below wearing 42(!) which was taken on Wednesday night.

The Marlies have also signed more players to try-out contracts.

First Period

This game was an interesting contrast to last Sunday where the Marlies were dominant on board battles in the Comets zone to keep possession of the puck and generate shots. On Tuesday, the game felt more open with the Penguins beating the Marlies there, though the puck seemed to spend more time with players in the open ice areas.

Marchment and Bracco still looked just as impressive, now centred by Adam Brooks. Marchment set up Bracco for one of the first big scoring chances of the game in the early going. It was also nice seeing Aaltonen back to win faceoffs for the team.

Kyle Baun got the Marlies on the board first. It was also his first goal as a member of the team.

Josh Kestner got his first stint in pro-hockey jail by taking a penalty for hooking. There was a scare when the Penguins defenceman Zach Trotman was lined up for a slapshot at Sparks, but he comically broke his stick in the attempt.

After killing off that penalty, it was the Marlies who got the next power play chance. Nielsen’s had a much more successful attempt from the point than Trotman and put the Marlies up by two.

The two goal lead lasted only two minutes before Daniel Sprong scored.

Sprong was selected right in the middle of the second round, 46th overall by the Penguins in the 2015 draft. Sprong leads the Penguins with 23 goals now, and 48 points in 52 games this season.

You may recall Toronto had two selections in the second round in that draft class. They were Travis Dermott, picked 34th, and Jeremy Bracco, picked 61st.

Second Period

The Penguins didn’t waste any time jumping off in the second period to tie up the game.

Keefe has often put out the Gauthier line for defensive zone faceoffs when playing on the fourth line with guys like Clune, but on Tuesday he had a little more offensive talent on his wing. His line already had one goal in the first period and kept up a few minutes of sustained pressure with a good offensive push that gave the top lines a breather.

The first half of the period was marred by the Marlies taking two back-to-back penalties which led to a brief five-on-three, but it didn’t lead to any real scoring chances.

Rosen perhaps was fired up after a tussle with the Penguins Tom Kostopoulos half way through the period, as he let one rip off his stick where it had been for only a microsecond to put the Marlies back tied with the Penguins

Marchment followed up Rosen’s goal with another scoring chance that missed, and the Penguins brought it right back down to the Marlies end where a shot passed right through the crease.

Third Period

The Penguins had some trouble getting and keeping control of the puck, especially when it was behind the net at either end.

Liljegren took a penalty for tripping which was killed off.

Pretty much everyone had a chance in the last half of the period: Marchment, Baun, Rosen again, but the puck wouldn’t go in for anyone. The third period ended with the game tied and the Marlies went to OT for only the sixth time in the season.

Overtime!

Adam Brooks: overtime hero. I’m not settling for a Twitter embed here. Let’s go to the video!

What. A. Play.

Watch it again and admire Brooks breezing through the Penguins defenders there. For the record, #47 on the Penguins who is caught flat-footed is Adam Johnson.

Extra credit is due to captain Smith for choosing to take the extra risk of passing in front of the Penguins defender over to Brooks who had the higher chance to score on Jarry. Sometimes the Marlies are a bit too risk averse when not playing 5-on-5. Not this time.

Post game notes

Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe was pleased with the outcome. “I really like how we felt our way through it. Even though we got scored on in the third period, I thought our third period was the best of the three,” he said adding that the way the game played out provided some valuable experience for his younger players on the roster. “To be able to have those lessons and to get the two points is a bonus for us.”

Keefe praised the level of effort put forward by the rookies as his team’s most talented players have moved up to the Maple Leafs roster. “Our young guys have come along here and they’ve been playing more, getting more opportunity here of late as we lost some people.” He specifically cited the work by Brooks on the overtime goal. “We’ve lost talent, up front especially, and we need those guys to be able to make progress and they’ve been doing that. I’m thrilled for Brooks to get rewarded.”

There’s only twelve games left to the end of the regular season. Both the Marlies and Crunch have clinched their playoff spots, and the Comets and Amerks will do so in a short time. However, due to the very tight standings it’s still up in the air who could be their playoff opponent. The Marlies themselves may influence the outcome as they have two more games against the Comets in early April.

Here is the game highlights pack.

Next Game

The Marlies have a three-in-three weekend starting with a game in Belleville against the Senators on Friday night. The Senators will then come to Ricoh Coliseum on Saturday. On Sunday Ricoh Coliseum will host the CWHL Clarkson Cup Final starting at noon. The Marlies game will start at 4:30 against another visitor from the Atlantic Division, the Springfield Thunderbirds (Florida Panthers affiliate).