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Marlies hang on to beat Hershey Bears 4-3

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It was a tough matchup, but the Marlies are now 4-0-0.

Toronto Marlies Adam Brooks leads the glove taps line after scoring in the second period against the Hershey Bears
Credit: Christian Bonin - TSGPhoto.com

The Toronto Marlies beat the Hershey Bears 4-3 on the same night their NHL affiliates played in Washington. The Capitals beat the Leafs by the same 4-3 scoreline in that one.

Kenny Agostino scored in his return to the Marlies lineup, Egor Korshkov kept his goal scoring streak alive at four in four, while Adam Brooks and Tanner MacMaster had the insurance goals that ended up being quite important by the end of the night.

Special teams were a big part of this game. The Marlies went 50% on their four power play chances, while the Bears went scoreless in five attempts, including a 5v3 of over a minute. The Marlies remain perfect this season while down a man, which has happened 14 times. They even have a shorthanded goal to their name.

Kasimir Kaskisuo stopped 27 of 30 for the win, his third of the season, while the Bears had to use both their goalies in this one after a poor start by Vitek Vanecek.

The Marlies are now 4-0-0 this season and play their next game on Saturday, a 4pm start against Cleveland.

Marlies Lines

The Marlies made some changes to the left side of their lineup following the weekend. Agostino has healed from his upper body injury sustained in the home opener against Belleville, slotting in on the first line with Brooks and Bracco. Darren Archibald has left the first line and is now on the fourth. MacMaster has jumped Archibald and is now on the third line in place of Nicholas Baptiste (who I thought had a banger of a weekend in Manitoba).

On defense, Rasmus Sandin has returned! He and Kevin Gravel make a straight swap as partners to Timothy Liljegren

Forwards

Kenny Agostino - Adam Brooks - Jeremy Bracco
Egor Korshkov - Tyler Gaudet - Matt Read
Tanner MacMaster - Pierre Engvall - Pontus Aberg
Darren Archibald - Hudson Elynuik - Garrett Wilson

Defense

Rasmus Sandin - Timothy Liljegren
Ben Harpur - Jordan Schmaltz
Teemu Kivihalme - Jesper Lindgren

Goalies

Kasimir Kaskisuo
Joseph Woll

Power Play

Sandin - Bracco - Brooks - Agostino - Korshkov
Liljegren -Aberg - Engvall - MacMaster - Archibald

Penalty Kill

Read - Gaudet - Harpur - Schmaltz
Korshkov - Brooks - Sandin - Liljegren

The Game

First Period

1-0

The Marlies opened the scoring on the team’s fourth shot of the period. Agostino connected right away with his new linemates Brooks and Bracco for this one. Bracco did a good job of holding the puck and opening up lateral space for Agostino to exploit. Once the cross-ice pass was made, it was all Agostino and his effortless shot.

2-0

The Marlies extended their lead on the power play when Korshkov tipped home a Bracco shot from the point, à la Marner and Matthews in the Minnesota Wild game on Tuesday. The redirect from the slot through the legs of Vanecek was perfect, it should be a crime to leave Korshkov that open that close to the net.

2-1

Schmaltz gave the puck away at the offensive blueline, leading to a 2-on-1 the other way with only Liljegren back. Liam O’Brien froze the young defenseman and got to the the faceoff dot before sliding a pass through the slott to his teammate at the far post. Unfortunately for Liljegren, he stopped the pass too late and deflected the puck through the pads of Kaskisuo and into the net.

After One

It was a good period for the Marlies offensively, but especially for Korshkov. He had four of the team’s seven scoring chances in the period. Agostino and Aberg had the other three. Defensively, the team was much more porous than they were in Manitoba. Eight shots against, seven scoring chances, all from the middle of the net.

Second Period

3-1

Schmaltz with a perfect pass through the middle of the neutral zone to Brooks, who got behind the defense and slipped the puck through Vanecek’s pads for a goal. That goal was enough to get Vanecek pulled from the game, Pheonix Copley stepped in in relief.

Aberg forgot his assignment at the point, allowing the Bears to get a rebound into the slot. Philippe Maillet had a wide open net but was just hindered by Engvall on the shot to let it be a roller than Kaskisuo just barely pushed away with the toe. Great save.

3-2

This play was a total mess. The Marlies couldn’t make a pass offensively, then forgot to stand defensively. Axel Jonsson-Fjallby was allowed to breeze by Agostino, Gaudet, and Read before turning Schmaltz and scoring. Kaskisuo gives up his second five-hole goal of the night.

4-2

The Marlies got their third power play later in the period after the Bears were caught for den interference. The first unit “looked” dangerous, but Brooks, Sandin, and Bracco refused to shoot the puck and they remained at the perimeter. Enter the second unit that made me slightly gag when I first saw it. They sure proved me wrong when Aberg got MacMaster a lane to the inside and the former Utica Comet scored with a nice backhand.

After Two

These are two very even teams, but I will say, the Bears had more sustained pressure over the first two periods. Both teams had three power plays up till this point, but it was the Marlies who scored twice to Hershey’s zero goals with the man advantage.

Third Period

Marlies have to defend a 5v3 early in the third period. Lindgren in the box for hooking at the end of the second period, and then Read in the box for tripping on the kill. The Marlies found a way to kill both while giving up only two shots against, both from relatively safe distances.

4-3

Boy this was bad. The Marlies had started to get out of shape as the period went on and at one point Bracco found himself as the first forward back on a 3-on-3 rush. This would’ve been a great opportunity to stop a good chance and perhaps push the play the other way, but instead he got walked by Jonsson-Fjallby, who scored for a second time tonight.

The Marlies looked very unpolished throughout the first half of the third period. Scrappy passes, bobbled pucks, missed assignments, no one supporting each other in transition or in the offensive zone. The defense seemed fully overwhelmed for large stretches of their shifts.

Elynuik tried to fight a guy in front of the net to give the team some jump and we got some 4v4 action out of it. Brooks pretty much did all the work to get the puck in the offensive zone until Bracco got the puck and did a spinny spin at the blueline, got some woos, before giving the puck away.

The Marlies were hemorrhaging shots ss the period came to a close. With less than a minute to go, the Bears won an icing and used a timeout to prepare their final attack with the goalie pulled. The Marlies won the draw, but could get up the right wing boards. The Bears scrambled around for a chance but gained a power play instead when Schmaltz took a hooking penalty.

With one of the better defenseman in the box, the Bears made one last-ditch effort. Again, the Marlies won the draw and pushed up the right wing boards, and again they were stopped with chaos in front of Kaskisuo. Somehow Liljegren was able to grab hold of the puck with five seconds left and keep it with him long enough to end the game. A close call.

Takeaways

  • Sandin made his return to the Marlies lineup in this game, but it was no glorious comeback as his pair with Liljegren really struggled to get the puck out of their zone. The Bears are a very deep hockey team at forward and defense, so this was the Marlies toughest competition yet. The whole team, not just Sandin and Liljegren, struggled to find ways through the Bears defense in the neutral zone, often having to dump the puck in and hope for a favourable board battle.
  • One thing I did notice from that pairing was Liljegren’s quiet ability to disrupt rushes against at the blueline with his stick or body positioning. He was consistently strong at tracking the puck laterally and getting in the way before making a short- or medium-distance pass to a supporting forward. Those passes especially stood out to me, Liljegren has developed vision and poise that has allowed him to make clean zone exit passes without having to do too much work himself. Keep an eye on that in the future, we might have a Morgan Rielly partner on our hands in the future.
  • Lastly, just for fun, shots on goal by line:

Agostino + Brooks + Bracco = 6
Korshkov + Gaudet + Read = 5
MacMaster + Engvall + Aberg = 5
Archibald + Elynuik + Wilson = 3
Sandin + Liljegren = 2
Harpur + Schmaltz = 0
Kivihalme + Lindgren = 3