Coming off a road loss to the Rochester Americans, the Marlies came into today’s game against the league-leading Charlotte Checkers hungry for a win. The Marlies came out firing and set the tone early on with 17 shots and four goals in the opening frame.
Sam Gagner opened the scoring at 5:14 after jumping out on a breakaway and firing a shot over Alex Nedeljkovic’s glove. Carl Grundstrom and Frank Corrado assisted on Gagner’s eighth of the season. At 9:18, Steve Oleksy fired a one-timer from the top of the faceoff circle that beat Nedeljkovic to make it 2-0 for the Marlies. Jeremy Bracco and Dymtro Timashov assisted on Oleksy’s first of the season. The Marlies found success on their second power play opportunity of the game as Bracco found Chris Mueller on the doorstep who make no mistake tapping home his 15thof the season. That would be it for Nedeljkovic as goaltender Scott Darling entered the game in relief. Less than a minute later, the Checkers solved newly acquired goaltender, Michael Hutchinson as Saku Maenalanen scored a shorthanded goal to get the visitors on the board. The Marlies were quick to respond as Timashov set up Michael Carcone who beat a sprawled Darling to restore the Marlies three-goal lead. The Marlies outshot the Checkers 17-8 in the opening frame and held a 4-1 lead heading into the first intermission.
The second frame was quieter than the first with the only goal coming from Charlotte’s Greg McKegg at 12:38. Aleksi Saarela and Andrew Poturalski picked up the assists on McKegg’s fifth of the season as the Checkers cut the deficit to 4-2 heading into the final frame.
The Checkers caught up in the third period with two unanswered goals from Zach Nastasiuk and McKegg to send the game into overtime.
Marlies leading scorer, Chris Mueller provided the overtime heroics, netting his second of the night and 16thof the season to seal a 5-4 victory for the home team.
Charlotte: S. Maenalanen (7) SH (N. Roy), G. McKegg (5) (A. Saarela, A. Poturalski), Z. Nastasiuk (1) (P. Brown, D. Renouf), G. McKegg (6) (A. Poutralski) Goaltender: A. Nedeljkovic (10/13), S. Darling (21/23)
Toronto: S. Gagner (8) (C. Grundstrom, F. Corrado), S. Oleksy (1) (J. Bracco, D. Timashov), C. Mueller (15) PP (J. Bracco, S. Gagner), M. Carcone (8) (D. Timashov, C. Grundstrom), C. Mueller (16) (J. Bracco, S. LeBlanc) Goaltender: M. Hutchinson (31/35)
ON THE SCORESHEET
Sam Gagner opened the scoring at 5:14 of the first period and later added the secondary assist on Mueller’s first period power play goal. Gagner has 25 points (8 goals, 17 assists) in 26 games with Toronto. Eight of Gagner’s 17 assists have come on the power play.
Steven Oleksy scored his first goal as a Marlie and his first of the season at 9:18 of the first period. Oleksy has three points (1 goal, 2 assists) through 21 games this season.
Chris Mueller scored on the power play at 14:04 of the first period to put Toronto up 3-0 and the game-winning goal at 2:04 of overtime. Mueller is second in the league with five game-winning goals. Seven of Mueller’s 15 goals have come on the power play.
Michael Carcone scored Toronto’s fourth goal of the game at 15:55 of the first period. Carcone has three points (2 goals, 1 assist) in his last six games.
Carl Grundstrom recorded the primary assist on Gagner’s opening goal and the secondary assist on Carcone’s first period goal.
Frank Corrado registered the secondary assist on Gagner’s first period goal.
Jeremy Bracco had the primary assists on Oleksy’s first period goal, Mueller’s first period power play goal and the game-winning overtime goal. This is Bracco’s ninth multi-point game of the season. Bracco has 30 points (7 goals, 23 assists) in 32 games this season.
Dmytro Timashov recorded the primary assist on Carcone’s first period goal and the secondary assist on Oleksy’s first period goal.
Stefan LeBlanc registered the secondary assist on Mueller’s overtime winner. LeBlanc has two assists in his five games with the Marlies.
Michael Hutchinson stopped 31 of 35 shots he faced in his first start with Toronto. Hutchinson is now 3-3-2-0 on the season with a .903 Save Percentage and a 3.39 Goals Against Average.
Toronto went 2-for-2 on the penalty kill and 1-for-3 on the power play.
Toronto had a 36-35 edge in shots in all situations.
Sam Gagner led the Marlies with five shots on goal.
The Marlies are 3-2-0-0 against Atlantic Division opponents and are 1-0-0-0 against the Charlotte Checkers this season.
Toronto will play eight games split evenly between home and the road over 16 days from December 28 to January 12. They will face the Rochester Americans three times, the Charlotte Checkers twice as well as the Syracuse Crunch, Binghamton Devils and the Utica Comets through this span.
REGULAR SEASON LEADERS
Goals: C. Mueller (16)
Assists: J. Bracco (23)
Points: C. Mueller (34)
PPG: C. Mueller (7)
Shots: S. Gagner (94)
+/-: C. Grundstrom (+6)
PIMS: S. Oleksy (47)
The Marlies are 13-4-1-0 when scoring the first goal of the game.
The Marlies are 10-1-9-0 when leading after the first period and 9-0-1-0 when leading after the second period.
Toronto is 9-7-2-1 when leading their opponent in shots.
The Marlies are 1-1-0-0 in Monday games and finish December with a record of 7-7-0-0.
CURRENT POINT STREAKS
Sam Gagner has points (1-2-3) in two consecutive games.
Chris Mueller has goals (3) in two consecutive games.
Dmytro Timashov has assists (3) in two consecutive games.
Timothy Liljegren (ankle) did not dress for tonight’s game. He is week-to-week with a high ankle sprain.
Andreas Borgman (concussion) did not dress for tonight’s game. He left Toronto’s game on December 19 vs. Binghamton and did not return.
Rasmus Sandin (World Juniors) did not dress for tonight’s game.
December 31: Returned forward Trevor Moore on loan from Toronto (NHL).
December 31: Recalled forward Trevor Moore from loan by Toronto (NHL).
December 29: Returned forward Trevor Moore on loan from Toronto (NHL).
December 29: Returned goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo on loan from Toronto (NHL).
December 29: Acquired goaltender Michael Hutchinson from Florida (NHL), loaned from Toronto (NHL).
December 29: Recalled goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo from loan by Toronto (NHL).
December 28: Recalled forward Derian Plouffe from loan to Newfoundland (ECHL).
HEAD COACH SHELDON KEEFE
On today’s game: I think obviously in the first period we can think that we can play with anybody but also then through that you’ve got to play 60 minutes, you’ve got to respond after a good first period and build on it. That’s the biggest thing just the three periods. If you look at our games since coming back since Christmas here, we’ve had three excellent first periods, then after that we’ve laid an egg and that’s why we’ve lost the previous two, the game got away on us and then today we were lucky we built up enough of a lead in the first to be able to get ourselves to overtime but we’ve got to find a way to build on more than 20 minutes.
On what he liked about Toronto’s play: I liked in the first period that we played with a lot of confidence and I thought we moved the puck really well, probably as well as we have all season and the production showed from it. I don’t think we got the best from Charlotte in their first period but we did a lot of great things with the puck, so that was a really good thing but as I said we’ve got to find a way to do it for three periods.
On players that have stepped up in recent games:
I think if we focus on our second and third periods, I don’t know if anybody is. I don’t think we’ve played very well. But our first periods and if I look even before the holidays and I focus on our Laval games, I like the fact that our defence – (Stefan) Leblanc, (Sam) Jardine, (Steve) Oleksy since arriving – those guys have done a good job in filling in. We’ve played without three of our regular defencemen here and then Rosen before that, so four guys. The other night we were without three regular forwards plus Trevor Moore who’s up and guys like (Derian) Plouffe comes in and (Jordan) Subban comes in, so anyone that’s getting those opportunities are taking advantage of it and doing well. But just like our whole team, we’ve got to play better for more than 20 minutes.
GOALTENDER MICHAEL HUTCHINSON (31 OF 35 SAVES)
On his debut:
The guys made it really easy, coming out and playing the first period like we did and getting a lead. It’s nice to have that. It’s always easier playing that way, even though we had to sneak in a win in overtime. A win’s a win any time of the year, so we’ll definitely take it.
On the play of his teammates:
We managed the puck really well. In the first period, our breakouts and playing in the offensive zone, was really good and We have tons of skill which is exciting as a goalie when you play for a team that you know can score four or five goals a night any night. That gives you confidence as a goalie, knowing that your team has that offensive with the lead.
January 4 at Binghamton – 7:05 p.m. ET
January 5 at Syracuse – 7:00 p.m. ET
January 6 vs Charlotte – 4:00 p.m. ET
January 9 vs Utica – 7:00 p.m. ET
January 11 at Rochester – 7:05 p.m. ET
The Marlies close out 2018 with a matinee game today against the league-leading Charlotte Checkers. This marks the first meeting between these two teams this season, and the Checkers are off to a hot start. With a 24-8-2-0 record, the Checkers sit first in the league, while the Marlies (14-13-3-2) have slipped to sixth in the North Division and 21stin the league.
Although the Checkers are coming off a 5-4 overtime win against Laval, they have lost three of their last five contests. The Marlies have also lost three of their last five and are 6-6-0-0 in December.
Players to watch: After scoring the lone goal in Friday’s game, Chris Mueller now has 32 points (14 goals, 18 assists) in 30 games and continues to lead the Marlies offensively. Andrew Poturalski leads the Checkers with 31 points (13 goals, 18 assists) in 34 games.
Puck drops at 3:00 PM and fans can catch all the action on Leafs Nation Network and AHLTV.
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