Total Team Effort Pushes Marlies Past Senators
The Toronto Marlies delivered a total team effort to ring in the New Year, downing the Belleville Senators by a 5-1 final Sunday evening at Ricoh Coliseum.
It was a strong performance from the very start, with the Marlies outshooting Belleville 15-7 in the opening frame.
On a five-on-three power play in the final two minutes of the first, Andreas Johnsson scored on a one-timer after a great cross-crease pass from Chris Mueller to open the scoring. Travis Dermott also had an assist on the goal in his return to the lineup after missing some time with an injury.
That wasn’t the end of the special teams scoring for the Marlies, however. Midway through the second period, Kasperi Kapanen buried a shorthanded goal as he raced into the Senators zone and took a pass from Frederik Gauthier along the boards, beating Andrew Hammond to make it 2-0.
The Marlies would carry the two-goal lead into the third period, when just over six minutes into the final frame, Gauthier broke free of his defender and scored his fourth of the season to extend the lead to 3-0.
Belleville responded midway through the third as Chris DiDomenico intercepted a pass and was able to beat Garret Sparks, the only time the Senators solved Sparks in the game.
Gauthier earned his second of the night while shorthanded just three minutes later, passing the puck to himself off the boards and going top shelf for his fifth of the year.
With under three minutes remaining in the game, Adam Brooks scored the first goal of his career to add some insurance for the Marlies, banging in a rebound off a Travis Dermott chance out front.
The Marlies would close out the game with a 5-1 victory, improving to 4-1-0-0 against Belleville this season.
Gauthier had a three point night and was named the game’s first star, while Dermott finished with three assists in the victory.
Sparks made 19 saves for his twelfth victory of the season. He now has a 1.82 goals against average (GAA) and .937 save percentage (SV%).
Andrew Hammond stopped 36 shots in the loss.
With the win, the Marlies improve to 23-11-0-0 and 17-6-0-0 against North Division opponents this season.
They lead the division to close out the month, which also means that head coach Sheldon Keefe has earned a spot at the 2017-18 AHL All-Star Classic in Utica as bench boss for the North Division.
The Marlies return to action Wednesday night in Laval when they will face off against the Rocket, AHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens.
Belleville: C. DiDomenico (6) (M. McCormick)
Goaltender: A. Hammond (36/41)
Toronto: A. Johnsson (12) PP (C. Mueller, T. Dermott), K. Kapanen (9) SH (F. Gauthier, T. Dermott), F. Gauthier (4) SH (J. Holl), F. Gauthier (5) (D. Timashov, J. Holl), A. Brooks (1) (T. Dermott, R. Clune)
Goaltender: G. Sparks (19/20)
FROM THE SCORESHEET
- Andreas Johnsson opened the scoring on the power play at 18:14 of the first period. Johnsson leads the Marlies with five power play goals this season.
- Kasperi Kapanen recorded the game-winning goal at 7:37 of the second period shorthanded. This is Kapanen’s first shorthanded goal of the season.
- Frederik Gauthier had his first multi-point game of the season, scoring shorthanded at 6:19 of the third period and later scoring his fifth goal of the season at 13:22. Gauthier also had the primary assist on Kapanen’s second period goal.
- Adam Brooks scored his first career American Hockey League goal at 17:13 of the third period.
- Chris Mueller had the primary assist on Johnsson’s first period goal. Mueller leads the Marlies in assists (15) this season.
- Travis Dermott recorded his first three-point game of the season with the secondary assist on Johnsson’s first period goal and Kapanen’s second period goal and the primary assist on Brook’s third period goal.
- Justin Holl registered the lone assist on Gauthier’s shorthanded goal and the secondary assist on Gauthier’s third period goal. Holl has 16 points (4 goals, 12 assists) this season.
- Dmytro Timashov had the primary assist on Gauthier’s second goal of the night.
- Rich Clune recorded the secondary assist on Brook’s third period goal.
- Garret Sparks stopped 19 of 20 shots. Sparks is now 12-6-0-0 on the season with a .937 Save Percentage and a 1.82 Goals Against Average.
- With the Marlies win against Belleville, head coach Sheldon Keefe has been named coach of the North Division at the 2018 AHL All-Star Classic.
- The Marlies scored two shorthanded goals (Kapanen and Gauthier) in one game for the first time this season.
- Toronto went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill and 1-for-3 on the power play.
- Toronto had a 41-20 edge in shots in all situations.
- Travis Dermott led the Marlies with six shots on goal.
- The Marlies are 17-6-0-0 against North Division opponents this season.
Goals: B. Smith (15)
Assists: C. Mueller (15)
Points: B. Smith (27)
PPG: A. Johnsson (5)
Shots: K. Rychel (73)
+/-: B. Smith (+22)
PIMS: A. Nielsen (60)
On tonight’s game:
I thought we were really good in all areas of the game. I thought we were in control pretty much right from the start of the game all the way through. Any time we had some slip-ups, our goaltending was really good. (Sparks) deserved a shutout here today. A tough turnover for us and it was hard on him but he was great for us. And our penalty kill stepped up in a big way. Not only to have a clean sheet but score two (shorthanded) for us as well and the power play came through for us for the first 5-on-3 goal. A lot of really good, positive things for us here today.
On Travis Dermott’s return to the lineup:
I thought he was really good. No secret, he’s a big part of our team. We’re a different team when he’s in and playing like that. A lot of our guys were going here today and he was one of them.
– Head coach Sheldon Keefe
January 3 at Laval – 7:30 p.m. ET
January 5 vs Lehigh Valley – 7:00 p.m. ET
January 6 vs Bridgeport – 4:00 p.m. ET
January 12 at Charlotte – 7:15 p.m. ET
January 13 at Charlotte – 6:00 p.m. ET
The Toronto Marlies will look to finish out the year 2017 with a victory when they host the Belleville Senators for a matinee matchup this afternoon.
The New Year’s Eve game will mark the fifth matchup between the two sides this season, with the Marlies holding a 3-1-0-0 edge in the Battle of Ontario series.
The Marlies (22-11-0-0) are looking to snap a three-game losing streak to end the year and will be focused on finding the back of the net. In their past four home games, the Marlies have combined for just three goals.
Following Friday’s loss to Rochester, Trevor Moore spoke about the need for the team to create more offensive chances.
“We have to get more pucks to the net, we’re not generating enough offensively towards the net,” Moore said.
Head coach Sheldon Keefe also addressed the scoring concerns following Friday’s game.
“The area that has been a real issue for us has been special teams and generating offence consistently,” Keefe said. “So that’s been a factor, with special teams, and we aren’t scoring at even strength enough to make up for it and that is why we are on the wrong side of games right now.”
To help turn around the offence, the Marlies will look to Ben Smith, who leads the team in both goals (15) and points (27).
Andreas Johnsson sits second in goals with 11 while Dmytro Timashov is third on the team with nine.
At the other end, the Senators (13-17-0-3) are looking to build off an overtime victory over the Providence Bruins last night.
Belleville is led by Ethan Werek, Jim O’Brien and Max McCormick, who all have 17 points so far this season.
Puck drop is scheduled for 3:00 and tickets are still available.
Fans can also tune in to the game on Leafs Nation Network and AHL Live.
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