The Toronto Marlies didn’t need many games to defeat the Rochester Americans in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs. They won three straight (two on the road and the final one at home) to secure the best-of-five series in their favour.
Kasimir Kaskisuo started all three games, including Wednesday night where he stopped 28 of 29 for the win. Adam Brooks scored in each period, including the empty netter in the dying minute of the game to seal it and get the first hat trick of his AHL career.
Looking ahead, it is now either the Cleveland Monsters or the Syracuse Crunch that the Marlies will play in a best-of-seven series next. The Monsters are currently up two games to one, but the Crunch played a really great game three, so who knows what happens there. The Marlies defeated the Crunch in a four-game sweep in last year’s second round. Frederik Gauthier had a double overtime winner to secure game two in that one.
Calle Rosen got sent back down to the Marlies to join the team for their series. Trevor Moore and Michael Hutchinson might join him at some point, so here are the lines that played in this game. Rosen and Griffen Molino in for Steve Oleksy and Joseph Duszak were the only moves made before the game.
Dmytro Timashov - Chris Mueller - Jeremy Bracco
Mason Marchment - Adam Brooks - Michael Carcone
Pierre Engvall - Colin Greening - Josh Jooris
Griffen Molino - Tanner MacMaster - Nicholas Baptiste
Calle Rosen - Timothy Liljegren
Andreas Borgman - Vincent LoVerde
Rasmus Sandin - Mac Hollowell
Right off the bat, the Marlies get themselves figured out in the offensive zone after a line change brought on the second line and third pairing, and got themselves the first goal of the game. Marchment started the play with a quick ripper from along the boards that opened up a rebound opportunity for Carcone. He took the puck and wrapped it around the net and threw it out in front. Marchment missed it with his stick, but Brooks was able to follow up and shovel the rebound into the empty net. A great start to the game.
I did not like Carcone in the first two games; he gave the puck away a few times and overall he was very disappointing when given the puck and asked to skate it into the offensive zone. This game was a good rebound opportunity for him and it started off on the right foot.
It was a good period for the Marlies, who out-shot the Americans 11-7 in the frame. Kaskisuo was shaky at times, but generally dependable and was there when his team got a little lost in their own zone. The top three lines rolled with ease, while the fourth line was given very scarce ice time. In terms of special teams, each side had a power play, but neither could do much with their chance.
The first half of the second was pretty much fully dominated by the Amerks. They out-shot the Marlies 0-5 through the first 10 minutes and were rewarded with a Tage Thompson goal in the tenth minute. Thompson was sent to the Amerks after the Buffalo Sabres finished their season (no, not in February) and has been head and shoulders above the rest of the lineup in the AHL. Here, on the power play, he walked down from the wing and ripped a shot clean past Kaskisuo.
Tage Thompson goal to tie the game 1-1. pic.twitter.com/unqvvMaMsH— Let's Go Amerks (@LetsGoAmerks) April 25, 2019
That goal really woke up the Marlies, as they got their forecheck going and got rewarded fairly quickly with a point shot from LoVerde getting deflected off Brooks and in. The previous shift, the Greening line with Rosen and Liljegren really had trouble getting through the Amerk’s structure in the neutral zone, but by the end of the shift, Engvall was able to get the puck deep and change. From there, a fresh Brooks was able to win the forecheck battle and get the puck back to LoVerde before heading to the front of the net to tip the shot in.
It was a much lower event period in the second compared to the first. The shots in the second were a modest 6-6, with each side scoring a goal. There was some rough stuff. Former Leaf Andrew MacWilliam got hit early in the game from behind by Engvall and was on a mission to run guys for the rest of the game. He went after Borgman once and took an interference penalty on Engvall the second time he did.
We all knew what the second period was going to be — the Marlies trying to run out the clock for pretty much the full 20 minutes, with the Americans becoming more and more desperate as the clock wound down. Luckily the Marlies were able to control the play and keep things within them and their abilities and eventually came out with the victory.
The Americans out-shot the Marlies 2-16 in the third period, and Kaskisuo had to be alert and on top of his game for all of them. In an almost Philipp Grubauer situation for the Colorado Avalanche, he was able to turn around a frankly disappointing season into a very strong three-game stretch when it mattered most, and especially in the third period of this game.
Adam Brooks took the only penalty of the period, a vicious cross check on an Amerk who was holding his stick in the corner. Had Rochester scored on that power play, the story of this game might’ve been a lot different. Fortunately for him, he was able to nab the puck from between the legs of Dmytro Timashov and whip the shot into the empty net with less than a minute left.
Funnily enough, Brooks’ long-time running mate, Bracco, didn’t receive a shift in (at least) the final eight minutes of the game. He was invisible all night and it was obvious Keefe noticed. For context, Keefe basically ran a combination of Engvall, Timashov, Marchment, Brooks, and Carcone, among the vets to compensate for the dropped body.
After the Whistle
- Okay, that’s inaccurate. Bracco did one thing in this game. You can hear it at the 37-second mark.
- Calle Rosen is excited to play some more games with the boys he spent most of the year with now that the Boston business is done.
- Kaskisuo stopped 97 of 101 shots he faced in the series. He’s happy to be slowly improving throughout the year.
- Sheldon Keefe echoed how important Kaskisuo was for the team and his improvement as a goalie over the course of the season. Makes you think they’re leaning towards keeping him. Keefe also gave lots of love towards Timothy Liljegren, noting how he’s taken the tough competition, penalty killing duties, and puck moving in stride. He’s quietly been a really poised and mature defender, playing top pair minutes all season long (while he was healthy).