It was a tough night for the Marlies as the Checkers took a 2-1 lead in the series following a convincing 5-1 win.
Trevor Carrick opened the scoring at 8:28 of the first period, and Tomas Jurco extended Charlotte’s lead to 2-0 at 13:54. The Marlies found themselves down by two after 20 minutes of play.
Andrew Poturalski put the Checkers up by three with a goal at 18:30 of the second period. The Marlies outshot the Checkers 10-9 in the second but couldn’t find the back of the net.
Michael Hutchinson came in to start the third period, but the Marlies continued to struggle to generate chances and the Checkers added two goals to jump ahead 5-0. Toronto continued to press, adding 15 shots in the period, but couldn’t get anything going until Mason Marchment tipped the puck past Alex Nedeljkovic to spoil his shutout. The goal came on the power play at 17:50 of the third period. Pierre Engvall and Michael Carcone picked up the assists on the lone goal for the Marlies.
Toronto will have a day to regroup before returning to action for Game 4 on Thursday.
Charlotte: T. Carrick (1) (P. Brown, T. Jurco), T. Jurco (6) (P. Brown), A. Poturalski (7) (A. Saarela, J. Bean), P. Brown (2) (M. Necas, T. Carrick), M. Geekie (6) (A. Saarela) Goaltender: A. Nedeljkovic (33/34)
Toronto: M. Marchment (4) PP (P. Engvall, M. Carcone) Goaltender: K. Kaskisuo (19/22), M. Hutchinson (3/5)
ON THE SCORESHEET
Mason Marchment scored on the power play at 17:50 of the third period. Marchment has six points (4-2-6) in five consecutive games.
Pierre Engvall recorded the primary assist on Marchment’s third period goal. Engvall has six points (1 goal, 5 assists) in 10 games. Michael Carcone registered the secondary assist on Marchment’s third period goal. Carcone led the Marlies with six shots. Carcone has six points (3 goals, 3 assists) through 10 games.
Kasimir Kaskisuo stopped 19 of 22 shots he faced. Kaskisuo is now 8-2-0-0 in the playoffs with a .934 Save Percentage and a 1.96 Goals Against Average. Michael Hutchinson replaced Kaskisuo to start the third period, stopping 3 of 5 shots he faced.
Toronto was 4-for-4 on the penalty kill and was 1-for-7 on the power play.
Toronto had a 34-27 edge in shots in all situations. Michael Carcone led the Marlies with six shots on goal.
Goals: A. Brooks (6)
Assists: J. Bracco (10)*
Points: J. Bracco (13)
PPG: C. Mueller (4)*
Shots: M. Carcone (22)
+/-: A. Borgman, A. Brooks (5)
PIMS: M. Marchment (16) *AHL-leading
CURRENT POINT STREAKS
Mason Marchment has points (4-2-6) in five consecutive games.
HEAD COACH SHELDON KEEFE
On tonight’s game: Disappointing, for sure. I thought we had a really good start to the game. I liked our energy, I liked our push right from that start of the hockey game and then we get caught on that too many men on the ice penalty and we’re just not sharp and sorting out the line change. I thought that took away our momentum as did of course the first goal and then it’s just a tough game from there. So many penalties and special teams being such a factor. Special teams were an issue for us. Their penalty kill made it real hard on our power play. Our penalty kill while it kept the puck out of the next, it spent a lot of time in our own end. So, special teams were a problem and perhaps the biggest problem, it really ruined our rhythm. We had a lot of players sitting on the bench for long periods of time and other guys playing a lot of minutes in a short period of time. So, it was really a disruptive game from that sense and then of course, their goaltender was really solid and wasn’t letting by him. So, we got into a hole and couldn’t get out of it.
On the message tomorrow to the team ahead of Game 4: You’re in a playoff series, you’ve got to respond. You lose two in a row in a playoff series. It puts you in a tough spot but we’re going to come back here and play on home ice, two games are going to come at us in a hurry. So, we have a chance to respond. That’s what you need to do, that’s what their team did when they down in the hole in Game 2, they found their way back and they continued with it today. We’ll look at it and I believe again today, there’s a lot of positives in the game, particularly with how we started. We have to be able to respond better to different types of games. There’s more special teams in the first period than there was in both games combined before coming here. It was a much different game so it threw us off. Their special teams were better and I think that’s what really made the game tonight.
On what has to be different in Game 4:
We’ve got to get more stuff at the net and get on the inside a lot more. We knew that the power play was going to be a challenge for us in this series, going up against the number one penalty kill in both the regular season and playoffs and then through two games, we didn’t get a lot of look at it, we didn’t get that many reps against it. We got some solid reps there. I thought in the third period, it was a little bit better for us, a lot more movement, a lot more activity so we’ll have to look to build on that. We’ll be prepared for those types of things and our players will be more prepared for it. I suspect it will go back to being more five-on-five play, that’s the way it usually goes but we’ll have to be ready for anything which is the way the game goes.
On Michael Hutchinson replacing Kasimir Kaskisuo in the third period: Kas has been playing a lot of hockey for us throughout the playoffs here and there’s a lot of hockey coming here this week so we just thought it was a good chance to give him a bit of a breather.
On the missed opportunities on the power play and what can be tweaked: Well, we’ve got to tweak something because we are letting our team down. I thought we came out, we had chances, we gave up a few entries which wound up in the back of our net, but I thought we got chances and our power play had a chance five-on-three when it was 2-0 in the second to come back and we had a lot of opportunities. Whether it’s not executing, whether it’s getting a little frustrated during play and that’s carrying over into whatever. We’ll watch video and we’ll correct it. We have been a very good power play all playoffs, all regular season. You’ve got to give them a little credit but we have to be better for our team. I thought we had an opportunity to take the game back and try to get us back in the game and win a hockey game and our power play didn’t come to play today and I’ll take full responsibility for that and the guys on it. We’ve got to go to work, we’re letting the team down, we let it down tonight. We’ve got to be ready for Game 4 to bring something to the table.
On what the team can do better on 5-on-5: Get pucks more to the net, I think. They do a good job defending and some of our chances were maybe one and done. The goalie had a free space to see the puck, he’s a really good goaltender, you’re not going to beat any goaltender clean in this league. We just have to get more action in front of him and make it hard on him. I thought we could have put the puck in behind in their D a little more, put pressure on them and that fed into their transition and they’re a skilled team when you turn the puck over, they’re going to come at you and they’re going to make you pay for it. So, get pucks in deep more, I know it’s cliche but you’ve got to get more traffic in front of the goalie and make it hard for him somehow. We had our opportunities but we need to execute when we have them and we need to create more of them.
On the message in the room:
Well, playoffs aren’t supposed to be easy, right and it seems, I’m not going to say they were easy but things were going our way and bounces were going our way. Sometimes good teams get good bounces. I thought they’ve gotten some more fortunate bounces tonight but good teams earn that and they’ve earned those bounces. Right now, we’re not getting the bounces that we were before so we’ve just got to bare down, believe in ourselves. We’ve got a very good hockey team, we’ve just got to rebound and get Game 4. We’ve got to create momentum, get pucks to the net. That’s a good hockey team, playoffs aren’t supposed to be easy, that’s what makes winning so gratifying and so special. So, just dig in, believe in ourselves and we’ll be fine.
May 23 vs Charlotte – 7:00 p.m. ET
May 24 vs Charlotte – 7:00 p.m. ET
*May 26 at Charlotte – 7:00 p.m. ET
*May 28 at Charlotte – 7:00 p.m. ET
The Eastern Conference Finals head to Toronto this week for Games 3, 4 and 5 with the series even 1-1.
The Marlies set the series tone with a 2-1 win in Charlotte in Game one but dropped Game two after the Checkers battled from behind to win it 5-3. Toronto will need to ignite some offense and capitalize on their chances after being held to only three shots on goal in the final frame on Saturday. The Marlies’ special teams have been strong this postseason with their league-best power play (38.5%) converting on 10 of 26 chances and the penalty kill (88%) allowing only three goals in 25 shorthanded situations.
“We’ve been able to clean the slate pretty quickly after each of our games, no matter the results, and this is no different,” said head coach Sheldon Keefe. “We’ve had a couple days here now to really make sure it’s rinsed, and we’ve got a fresh start here. It’s a best-of-five series and we’re starting out on home ice.”
Players to watch: Bracco has 13 points (3 goals, 10 assists) through nine games in the playoffs. Adam Brooks leads the Marlies in goals (6) and is tied for second in the AHL. Trevor Moore has seven points (4-3-7) in six playoff games. Rasmus Sandin leads all defencemen and rookies in assists (9) through nine games.
Puck drops at 7:00PM on Leafs Nation Network and AHLTV. Fans across Canada can also stream the game live in the official Maple Leafs app. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram for behind-the-scenes action from Coca-Cola Coliseum.