Marlies Win Fifth Straight After Solid Showing Against Checkers
The Toronto Marlies earned their fifth straight victory on Friday night, defeating the Checkers by a 4-1 final in the team’s first trip to Charlotte in over two seasons.
Garret Sparks turned in a 26-save performance for his fifteenth win of the year, while the power play connected twice to push the Marlies past the Checkers.
Kasperi Kapanen opened the scoring on the man advantage in Friday’s game, going top shelf from the faceoff dot after some quick passing from Trevor Moore, Miro Aaltonen and Travis Dermott to create space. The goal was Kapanen’s eleventh of the year.
Midway through the second, Aaltonen extended the lead for the Marlies after stealing an errant puck right out front of the Checkers’ net and shooting upstairs to beat Alex Nedeljkovic. Aaltonen’s seventh of the year was unassisted.
Andrew Poturalski responded for the Checkers in the dying minutes of the second, scoring the only goal against Sparks in the contest.
Three minutes into the third, Ben Smith batted a rebound off a Trevor Moore shot out of mid-air to reclaim the two-goal lead. The power play goal was Smith’s team-leading sixteenth of the season.
With the Checkers net empty late in the game, Smith sent Andreas Johnsson in all alone for a late insurance marker to cap off the 4-1 victory. Justin Holl had the second assist on Johnsson’s fifteenth this season.
Sparks made 26 saves to improve to 15-6 with a 1.79 goals against average (GAA) and .938 save percentage (SV%).
Nedeljkovic had 19 saves in the losing effort for Charlotte.
With a goal and an assist in tonight’s game, Kapanen now has six points (3G, 3A) in his past four games and 11 points (5G, 6A) in his past nine.
Johnsson’s empty net goal gives him four in the past five games, while Aaltonen’s two-point night gives him four points (2G, 2A) in his last three outings.
The Marlies improve to 27-11-0-0 with the victory and hold the league’s best road points percentage with a 16-4-0-0 record away from home.
Charlotte falls to 21-15-0-1 with their third straight loss.
The two sides will face each other again tomorrow with puck drop scheduled for 6:00 from Charlotte.
Toronto: K. Kapanen (11) PP (T Dermott, M. Aaltonen), M. Aaltonen (7) (Unassisted), B. Smith (16) PP (T. Moore, K. Kapanen), A. Johnsson (15) EN (B. Smith, J. Holl)
Goaltender: G. Sparks (26/27)
Charlotte: A. Poturalski (11) (P. Brown)
Goaltender: A. Nedeljkovic (19/22)
FROM THE SCORESHEET
- Kasperi Kapanen opened the scoring at 11:15 of the first period on the power play and later recorded the secondary assist on Smith’s third period goal. Kapanen has 11 points (5 goals, 6 assists) in his last eight games. This is the fourth straight game Kapanen has registered a point (3 goals, 3 assists).
- Miro Aaltonen scored at 10:56 of the second period and earlier added the secondary assist on Kapanen’s first period goal. Aaltonen has registered a point (2 goals, 2 assists) in his last three games.
- Ben Smith scored at 3:05 of the third period on the power play and later added the primary assist on Johnsson’s empty net goal. Smith is Toronto’s leading scorer with 16 goals this season.
- Andreas Johnsson added an empty net goal at 16:47 of the third period. The Marlies are 12-1-0-0 when Johnsson scores a goal.
- Travis Dermott recorded the primary assist on Kapanen’s first period goal. Dermott has 14 points (2 goals, 12 assists) in his last 11 games.
- Trevor Moore added the primary assist on Smith’s third period goal.
- Justin Holl registered the secondary assist on Johnsson’s empty net goal.
- Garret Sparks stopped 26 of 27 shots. Sparks is now 15-6-0-0 on the season with a .938 Save Percentage and a 1.79 Goals Against Average.
- Toronto went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill and 2-for-4 on the power play.
- Charlotte had a 27-23 edge in shots in all situations.
- Andreas Johnsson led the Marlies with four shots on goal.
- The Marlies are 9-3-0-0 against Atlantic Division opponents this season.
- The Marlies are 2-1-0-0 against the Charlotte Checkers and have outscored them 12-8.
Goals: B. Smith (16)
Assists: T. Dermott (16), C. Mueller (16)
Points: B. Smith (31)
PPG: K. Kapanen (5), A. Johnsson (5), C. Mueller (5)
Shots: K. Rychel (84)
+/-: B. Smith (+26)
PIMS: A. Nielsen (82)
On tonight’s game:
It took us a little bit to get going but I thought that the back-half of that first period and then again in the third period, we did a lot of things we wanted to do that is good form for us in terms of what we want to look like. We spent a lot of time in the offensive zone and that kind of slows them down a little bit but they still had their moments, certainly in the second period for the most part was all them. We need to clean that up but I definitely thought we were in good form for most of the first and the third.
On Kasperi Kapanen’s game:
I thought that he just had a number of moments in this game that were frankly just above the level. He just really jumped out, stood out and was dominant in that area. That was really good to see. That’s what we want to see from him, that’s what he’s capable of. He was really feeling it today. We had some other guys that had some really good efforts themselves today. But Kap is a great player for so when he’s going like that, he really helps our team.
– Head coach Sheldon Keefe
January 13 at Charlotte – 6:00 p.m. ET
January 19 at Syracuse – 7:00 p.m. ET
January 20 at Binghamton – 7:05 p.m. ET
January 21 at Bridgeport – 5:00 p.m. ET
January 26 vs Rochester – 7:00 p.m. ET
The Toronto Marlies will look to build on their four-game winning streak on Friday night when they take on the Charlotte Checkers on the road.
The Marlies’ offense has been explosive over that span, outscoring opponents 19-5, including three efforts where the Marlies scored five goals or more.
For the Marlies (26-11-0-0), they enter the game off of a 6-1 victory over Bridgeport last weekend. They hold the top spot in the North Division with a road record of 15-4-0-0.
The Checkers (21-14-0-1) currently sit fourth in the Atlantic Division. They come into the contest having lost back to back games against Hershey on the road, but are 10-5-0-1 when playing at home this season.
It’s the Marlies’ first trip to Charlotte in over two years with the Checkers just moving to the Eastern Conference this season. So far this season, the two sides have split a weekend series in Toronto.
Coming into Friday’s contest, Andreas Johnsson has four points (3G, 1A) in his past four games while Kasperi Kapanen has six points (2G, 4A) in the past six outings.
Meanwhile, Ben Smith continues to hold the team lead in both goals (15) and points (29) so far this season.
At the other end, Charlotte is led by Andrew Miller with 34 points (9G, 25A) plus Valentin Zykov (19G, 8A) and Warren Foegele (17G, 10A) who both have 27 points this season.
Puck drop for tonight’s game is scheduled for 7:15 and fans can tune in on AHL Live or hear Todd Crocker’s call online. Following tonight’s game, the two sides will meet again tomorrow in the second half of the double-header.
Follow us on Twitter for pre- and post-game coverage, as well as live in-game updates from Charlotte.
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