It was a historic Monday at Air Canada Centre as Garret Sparks became the winningest goalie in Marlies franchise history after making 20 saves in a 4-1 victory over the visiting Laval Rocket.
The Marlies came out strong, sustaining pressure in the offensive zone from the start but weren’t able to punch one on the board until there was 5:35 remaining when Trevor Moore snapped a quick shot from the slot to open the scoring. It was Moore’s ninth of the season and was assisted by Kyle Baun and Frederik Gauthier. Baun’s assist is his first point since joining Toronto.
Laval responded just 35 seconds later as Adam Cracknell scored to tie things up, but Colin Greening reinstated the lead before the intermission by taking a Dmytro Timashov drop pass and going glove side on Zach Fucale.
The two sides were scoreless in the second with Toronto outshooting Laval 12-7 in the middle frame and holding a 23-13 edge in shots at that point.
Less than six minutes into the third, Andreas Johnsson scored on a one-timer after a great pass from Chris Mueller, earning his 26th goal of the season. Moore had the secondary assist on Johnsson’s power play marker and finished the night with three points, his third three-point effort of the season.
Justin Holl added an empty net goal late in the third to finish things off with a 4-1 win for the Marlies.
The victory improves the Marlies record to 42-16-1-1 and 7-1-0-0 against Laval on the year.
The Rocket fall to 23-31-6-2 with the loss.
Wednesday night at Ricoh Coliseum will see the two sides meet again in a rematch, their ninth meeting of the season.
Laval: A. Cracknell (23) (M.Taormina)
Goaltender: Z. Fucale (26/29)
Toronto: T. Moore (9) (K. Baun, F. Gauthier), C. Greening (15) (D. Timashov, A. Borgman), A. Johnsson (26) PP (C. Mueller, T. Moore), J. Holl (6) EN (B. Smith, T. Moore)
Goaltender: G. Sparks (20/21)
FROM THE SCORESHEET
Trevor Moore opened the scoring at 14:30 of the first period and later added the secondary assist on Johnsson and Holl’s third period goals. This is Moore’s third three-point game of the season
Colin Greening scored at 18:52 of the first period. Greening has a point (2 goals, 1 assist) in three consecutive games.
Andreas Johnsson scored on the power play at 5:54 of the third period. Johnsson leads the Marlies in power play goals (8).
Kyle Baun recorded the primary assist on Moore’s first period goal. This is Baun’s first point with the Toronto Marlies.
Frederik Gauthier registered the secondary assist on Moore’s first period goal.
Dmytro Timashov had the primary assist on Greening’s first period goal. Timashov has 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists) this season.
Andreas Borgman recorded the secondary assist on Greening’s first period goal. Borgman has six points (3 goals, 3 assists) in his 13 games with the Toronto Marlies this season.
Ben Smith had the primary assists on Johnsson’s power play goal and Holl’s empty net goal. Smith has recorded a point (3 goals, 9 assists) in seven consecutive games.
Garret Sparks stopped 20 of 21 shots. Sparks is now 23-8-1-1 on the season with a .934 Save Percentage and a 1.84 Goals Against Average.
Garret Sparks, with his 72nd win as a Toronto Marlie, now holds the franchise record for most wins by a goaltender.
Toronto went 4-for-4 on the penalty kill and 1-for-4 on the power play. Toronto has scored a power play goal (5) in three consecutive games.
Toronto had a 30-21 edge in shots in all situations.
Justin Holl and Trevor Moore led the Marlies with four shots on goal.
The Marlies are 31-10-1-0 against North Division opponents this season and 7-1-0-0 against the Laval Rocket. The Marlies have outscored the Rocket 33-12 with four games remaining this season.
Goals: A. Johnsson (26) Assists: A. Johnsson (28) Points: A. Johnsson (54) PPG: A. Johnsson (8) Shots: A. Johnsson (132) +/-: M. Marincin (+33) PIMS: A. Nielsen (112)
On today’s game:
I thought our guys worked, I thought we played smart for the most part. There were a few sequences in the game we would like to have back. We didn’t give up very much, we didn’t generate a lot ourselves, but I thought we just stayed focused and stayed with it. We scored two at even strength and a scored a power play goal while not giving up much, that is a pretty good recipe for us most nights.
On Garret Sparks:
He has been very valuable. Obviously, the key point is that he has been able to stay healthy this year and play for us consistently and be an option for us consistently. He has always played great since I have been here but he hasn’t been able to really get rolling because of injuries or call ups or whatever it might be in the two previous seasons that I have been here, have always gotten in the way. This year he has worked extremely hard and stayed focused and disciplined and committed every single day to the team and it has paid off for him. He is a key piece of our team right now.
– Head coach Sheldon Keefe
March 14 vs Laval – 7:00 p.m. ET
March 16 at Belleville – 7:00 p.m. ET
March 18 vs Utica – 4:00 p.m. ET
March 20 vs Springfield – 4:00 p.m. ET
March 23 at Belleville – 7:00 p.m. ET
The Toronto Marlies are closing out this year’s Air Canada Centre Series Monday afternoon for a special matinee matchup against the Laval Rocket.
The Marlies (41-16-1-1) come into the game after defeating Providence 4-3 at home on Saturday, and later securing a playoff berth off of a Laval loss.
The Rocket (23-30-6-2) are fighting to get back in the playoff picture as they currently sit fifth in the North Division, after losing 5-3 to Belleville on Saturday night.
The two sides have met seven times this season, with the Marlies winning the past six games after losing the first matchup back in October. Following today’s game, they will meet again four more times.
After a difficult stretch in the middle of February, the Marlies have won back-to-back games and remain atop the American Hockey League.
Andreas Johnsson, who sits fourth in league scoring, has combined for nine points (6G, 3A) against Laval this season. Chris Mueller is also performing at above a point-per-game basis, recording eight points (3G, 5A) in seven games.
Laval is led by Chris Terry who has 56 points (26G, 30A) on the season for the Rocket.
It is the Marlies first time facing the Rocket since a deadline day trade sent Kerby Rychel and Rinat Valiev to the Canadiens organization in exchange for Kyle Baun who joined the Marlies.