Marlies Earn Head Down Victory in Close Contest Against Charlotte
It was a close, hard-fought game from the start Saturday night, but the Marlies scored three times in the third period to earn a second straight victory in Charlotte.
Calvin Pickard turned in a solid performance between the pipes, making 27 saves in the 3-1 win.
The two sides remained scoreless until early in the third period, when Jeremy Bracco redirected a Rinat Valiev point shot for his third goal of the season.
With less than seven minutes left in the third, Ben Smith deflected Calle Rosen’s point shot to extend the lead to two. It was Smith’s team-leading seventeenth goal of the season.
Andrew Poturalski responded for Charlotte just a minute and a half later, cutting the Marlies lead in half. It would prove to be the only time the Checkers could solve Pickard.
Kasperi Kapanen scored an empty net goal in the dying minutes of the third to add an insurance marker and help the Marlies secure the two-goal victory.
Kapanen now has four goals and seven points in his last five games.
Valiev finished the night with two assists for his second multi-point game this season.
Pickard earned his twelfth win of the season on Saturday and now holds a 2.06 goals against average (GAA) .926 save percentage (SV%).
Facing six shorthanded situations, the Marlies penalty kill was perfect in the game and now improves to a league-best 88.8%.
The Marlies improve to 28-11-0-0 on the season and are now 10-3-0-0 against Atlantic Division opponents this year. They finish the season series with a 3-1-0-0 record against the Checkers.
After returning from Charlotte, the Marlies will have a week off before starting a busy three-in-three road trip next weekend with games against Syracuse, Binghamton and Bridgeport.
Toronto: J. Bracco (3) (R. Valiev, V. LoVerde), B. Smith (17) (C. Rosén, V. LoVerde), K. Kapanen (12) EN (R. Valiev)
Goaltender: C. Pickard (27/28)
Charlotte: A. Poturalski (12) (J. Chelios, B. Kichton)
Goaltender: A. Nedeljkovic (18/20)
FROM THE SCORESHEET
- Jeremy Bracco scored his third goal of the season at 1:36 of the third period. Bracco has recorded 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists) this season.
- Ben Smith scored the game-winning goal at 13:05 of the third period. This is Smith’s sixth game-winning goal this season.
- Kasperi Kapanen added an empty net goal at 18:54 of the third period. This was his fifth consecutive game with a point (4 goals, 3 assists).
- Rinat Valiev recorded the primary assists on Bracco and Kapanen’s third period goals. Valiev has five points (1 goals, 4 assists) in his last five games.
- Vincent LoVerde registered the secondary assists on Bracco and Smith’s third period goals.
- Calle Rosén had the primary assist on Smith’s third period goal. This was his ninth assist of the season.
- Calvin Pickard stopped 27 of 28 shots. Pickard is now 12-5-0-0 on the season with a .926 Save Percentage and a 2.06 Goals Against Average.
- Toronto went 6-for-6 on the penalty kill and 0-for-3 on the power play.
- Charlotte had a 28-21 edge in shots in all situations.
- Kasperi Kapanen and Kerby Rychel led the Marlies with three shots on goal.
- The Marlies are 10-3-0-0 against Atlantic Division opponents this season.
- The Marlies finish 3-1-0-0 against the Charlotte Checkers this season and outscored them 15-9.
Goals: B. Smith (17)
Assists: T. Dermott (16), C. Mueller (16)
Points: B. Smith (32)
PPG: K. Kapanen (5), A. Johnsson (5), C. Mueller (5)
Shots: K. Rychel (87)
+/-: B. Smith (+27)
PIMS: A. Nielsen (82)
HEAD COACH SHELDON KEEFE
On tonight’s game:
I thought it was a soft game just like the scoreboard showed. I didn’t even mind our first period. We don’t register a lot in terms of shots on goal. First of all, this is a pretty stingy rink. It’s difficult to register a shot on goal it seems which probably doesn’t help the goaltender’s statistics much. I thought we also missed the net a lot. We didn’t make great on a lot of our best opportunities in that period but I thought we controlled the play for a good chunk of that period – we like that. There were certainly moments we didn’t like. In the second period, I really just thought it was soft both ways. It could have gone either way. I thought the entire game could have gone either way but we just like that we find a way to win a game like this here again and that’s four points on the road. It’s been a very nice week, a very long week out here in Charlotte and to get four points against a good hockey team, playing some desperate hockey is a real good sign. Another good week for our guys.
On the team after the first two periods:
That we still have a shot. 0-0 game and we’re working hard but they were coming at us for a lot of the first 40 (minutes) so we’re lucky we have Pickard back there and we were able to go and score a goal early, a nice goal by Bracco and find a way to grab the lead.
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
January 27 at Syracuse – 7:00 p.m. ET
The Toronto Marlies will battle the Charlotte Checkers for the second time in less than twenty-four hours on Saturday, looking to build on the momentum of a 4-1 victory last night.
In tonight’s game, limiting chances for the Checkers high-powered offense will again be important in finding success.
The Marlies (27-11-0-0) come into the game with the fewest goals allowed across the league, while Charlotte (21-15-0-1) has the third best offense in the league.
Kasperi Kapanen, Miro Aaltonen, Ben Smith and Andreas Johnsson all scored in last night’s contest, which marked the Marlies first trip to Charlotte in over two seasons.
Kapanen now has points in four consecutive games (3G, 3A) and 11 points in his last eight games (5G, 6A). Aaltonen is currently riding a three-game point streak, racking up two goals and two assists over that span.
Smith continues to lead the team in goals (16) and points (31) after earning a goal and an assist last night.
Special teams played an important part of Friday’s victory and the Marlies will look to replicate that success tonight. The Marlies scored twice on the power play and kept the Checkers scoreless when on the penalty kill, marking the 24th time this season that the Marlies were perfect on the penalty kill.
Charlotte’s power play is ranked at the top of the Eastern Conference, so limiting those opportunities will again be important tonight.
Puck drop for tonight’s game is scheduled for 6:00 and fans can tune in on AHL live or listen to Todd Crocker’s call online.
Follow us on Twitter for pre- and post-game analysis, as well as live in-game coverage from Charlotte.
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