The Marlies will head to Charlotte with their backs against the wall following a Game 5 loss in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Trevor Moore brought the home crowd to their feet at 10:40 of the first period, opening the scoring with a power play goal. Jeremy Bracco and Rasmus Sandin assisted on Moore’s fifth of the postseason. The Checkers responded late in the frame with a shorthanded marker from Nicholas Roy to even the score 1-1 heading into the first intermission.
Charlotte set the tone with an early goal in the second period from Steven Lorentz to jump ahead 2-1, before adding another shorthanded goal from Haydn Fleury at 2:32 to make it 3-1. An empty net goal late in the third sealed the win for the Checkers who head home with a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Charlotte: N. Roy (3) SH (Unassisted), S. Lorentz (1) (S. Mattheos), H. Fleury (2) SH (P. Brown), C. Bishop (1) EN (Unassisted) Goaltender: D. Tokarski (40/41)
Toronto: T. Moore (5) PP (J. Bracco, R. Sandin) Goaltender: M. Hutchinson (20/23)
ON THE SCORESHEET
Trevor Moore opened the scoring on the power play at 10:40 of the first period. This is Moore’s fourth power play goal in nine playoff games, tied for the AHL-lead with Chris Mueller. Moore has eight points (5 goals, 3 assists) this postseason.
Jeremy Bracco recorded the primary assist on Moore’s first period power play goal. Bracco’s 11 assists in 12 playoff games lead the AHL. Bracco now holds the Marlies record for power play points (9) in a single postseason.
Rasmus Sandin registered the secondary assist on Moore’s first period power play goal. Sandin’s 10 assists leads all defencemen and all rookies through the postseason.
Michael Hutchinson stopped 20 of 23 shots he faced in his first start of the postseason. Hutchinson is now 0-1-0-0 in the playoffs with a .821 Save Percentage and a 3.88 Goals Against Average.
Toronto was 3-for-3 on the penalty kill and was 1-for-6 on the power play.
Toronto had a 41-24 edge in shots in all situations. Michael Carcone led the Marlies with five shots on goal.
Goals: A. Brooks, M. Carcone (6)
Assists: J. Bracco (11)*
Points: J. Bracco (15)
PPG: T. Moore, C. Mueller (4)*
Shots: M. Carcone (33)
+/-: A. Borgman, M. Carcone (6)
PIMS: M. Marchment (20) *AHL-leading
CURRENT POINT STREAKS
Jeremy Bracco has points (1-1-2) in consecutive games.
HEAD COACH SHELDON KEEFE
On tonight’s game:
Not quite the same in terms of how it felt, but I didn’t think it was a very good hockey game really from either side. I thought it looked like two very tired teams playing their third game in four days and fifth game of the series. That said, I thought they played a real smart game, they didn’t give us very much once they got the lead. It really played into their hands and we were unable to get the necessary offence that we needed to get. We got a lot of shots and a lot of things happening on the perimeter, we couldn’t really get grade A chances especially after the first period, there wasn’t a lot going on for us offensively there. So, credit to them they did a good job. Obviously, our special teams, our power play in particular, gets a huge goal early then we gave it back and didn’t get a second one there. Ultimately, that’s the difference in the game of course, but we’ve got to find ways to generate offence.
On Toronto’s power play:
Well you’ve got to give a lot of credit to them right, they are the number one penalty kill in the league, regular season and playoffs for a reason. So, that’s a great challenge in and of itself. The faceoffs is where it starts for me. You lose the faceoff on your power play and you’re set up for failure. Especially against a team like this and the strength of their penalty kill, how they defend the neutral zone and how they defend their blue line, so you lose the faceoff and it starts to snowball for you. So, that’s part of it but we got to do a better job of finding our way through that neutral zone. Not many teams in the league have been able to do it and it’s been an issue for us. That said, we didn’t have any problem with it early in the game we walked through it with speed early in the game, we got a huge goal to get our game started. I thought we got off to a good start but we were unable to stay with it.
On how the team will approach Game 6:
Well we are going to find out, but I believe in our group. I think we have to stay positive here. We’ve got to go out and win one game on the road. We’ve played very well on the road as a team and we’ve played very well in Charlotte. We are very comfortable there. So, no reason for us to panic or anything like that. We got to settle in and win a hockey game. At this point it’s a tough task ahead, we know that, and the biggest challenge of all is you’re facing a very good team, but we believe in our group. I think we’re going to have a good travel day tomorrow, we’ll get down there, we’ll get settled in, we’ll get excited to play a game. I expect it to be our best game this series. Our guys don’t want to go home.
On the character in the room and the resilience of the team:
We got a resilient bunch, this a group that’s battle tested. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs this season, so I have full faith in what this group can do.
On his message to the team as a veteran: We spoke a bit in there, I think this group just needs to remain positive and I believe we will. Like I said, we’re a resilient group where guys have had deep playoff runs before. We have dealt with adversity. So, I have full faith in this group and the effort they are going to give next game.
TREVOR MOORE (1 GOAL)
On getting the momentum back in Charlotte:
You just have to stick to your process. That’s really something we preach a lot here, I know you guys hear it a lot. But it’s just true, we have to play our game and if we play our game, I mean we can win one game and go win two in Charlotte. It’s a place we’ve played well in and we can do it again.
On what Charlotte changed in their approach for Game 5:
They did a better job in the forecheck. I don’t know if that contributed too much to their shorthanded goals, but they kind of stifled us there on the forecheck. So, I know A.J. (MacLean, assistant coach) is going to go back to the drawing board and he’s great at it and we got confidence we will be better next game.
On the message in the dressing room:
Stay positive, just take it day by day, shift by shift, we’re just going to keep pushing. There’s nothing else you can do, you know we got confidence in this group and we know we can win two in a row.
May 26 at Charlotte – 7:00 p.m. ET
*May 28 at Charlotte – 7:00 p.m. ET
The Marlies and Checkers have a quick turnaround today following last night’s overtime thriller that saw the Marlies even the Eastern Conference Finals at two games apiece. This marks the final home game of the series for the Marlies, and they’ll look to take the lead on home ice before returning to Charlotte for Game 6, and Game 7 if necessary.
“We get a chance tomorrow to respond again and build off this and to finish things off, our final home game in this series and to put us in a good spot to go on the road, said head coach Sheldon Keefe following last night’s game. “That’s what we’re playing for tomorrow.”
Michael Carcone led the way for the Marlies last night with four points including a hat trick and the overtime winner. “We played with speed,” added Carcone. “We played in their zone a lot more today and shut down their skill, so I think we did a good job in doing that and that’s what made us successful.”
Special teams are an area the Marlies can look to improve tonight as the power play has converted on only two of 14 opportunities this series. Last night the Marlies power play was 0 for 4 with a shorthanded goal against, while the penalty kill was 3 for 4, allowing Charlotte their first power play goal of the series.
Puck drops at 7:00PM on Leafs Nation Network, TSN 2 and AHLTV. Fans across Canada can also stream the game live in the Maple Leafs app. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram for behind-the-scenes access from Coca-Cola Coliseum.