Marlies Rally in Shootout Victory
Garret Sparks made a pair of stops in a shootout, capping off a 33-save performance throughout 65 minutes of play, to help backstop the Marlies to a 3-2 victory over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Friday night.
The scoring started early for the Marlies, with Miro Aaltonen going hard to the side of the net and redirecting a hard shot from Kasperi Kapanen just 49 seconds into the first period.
That score held up at the intermission, but the Phantoms responded with two goals in the second as Alex Krushelnyski and Oskar Lindblom scored six minutes apart.
With under four minutes remaining in the third, Colin Greening had the answer as he crashed the net and knocked in the puck from a tough angle to tie things up late.
The Marlies were sent to the penalty kill with under a minute to play in the third but withstood to send the game to overtime.
In the extra frame, the Marlies killed the remaining time off the penalty but were unable to find the winner, despite a late power play opportunity of their own.
Aaltonen started things off in the shootout with a quick move to the forehand as he slid the puck five hole for the goal.
Sparks turned aside a shot attempt from Chris Conner in the other half of the opening round.
Kasperi Kapanen was up next for the Marlies and he fired one top shelf to widen the gap in the shootout.
Sparks turned aside Lindblom’s attempt to seal the victory for the Marlies, extending their current win streak to three games.
The win is Sparks’ fourteenth of the season. He now has a .937 save percentage (SV%) and 1.83 goals against average (GAA) in 20 games.
At the other end, Alex Lyon made 35 saves in the loss.
The Marlies improve to 25-11-0-0 on the year and 10-7-0-0 at home. They finish the season series against Lehigh Valley with a 2-0-0-0 record.
It’s a short break from action as the Marlies get right back at it tomorrow against the visiting Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Tickets are still available and fans can tune in on Leafs Nation Network or AHL Live.
Lehigh Valley: A. Krushelnyski (1) (Unassisted), O. Lindbolm (12) (R. Willcox)
Goaltender: A. Lyon (35/37)
Toronto: M. Aaltonen (6) (K. Kapanen, R. Valiev), C. Greening (6) (Unassisted)
Goaltender: G. Sparks (33/35)
FROM THE SCORESHEET
- Miro Aaltonen opened the scoring at 49 seconds into the first period, recording the fastest goal of the season. Aaltonen has 18 points (6 goals, 12 assists) this season.
- Colin Greening tied the game late in the third period at 16:21 with his sixth goal of the season.
- Kasperi Kapanen registered the primary assist on Aaltonen’s first period goal. Kapanen has seven points (3 goals, 4 assists) in his last seven games with the Marlies.
- Rinat Valiev had the secondary assist on Aaltonen’s first period goal. Valiev has three points (1 goal, 2 assists) in two consecutive games.
- Garret Sparks stopped 33 of 35 shots. Sparks is now 14-6-0-0 on the season with a .937 Save Percentage and a 1.83 Goals Against Average.
IN THE SHOOTOUT
Miro Aaltonen – Goal (2017-18: 2/2)
Kasperi Kapanen – Goal (2017-18: 1/1)
Garret Sparks – 2/2 (2017-18: 4/4)
- Miro Aaltonen scored Toronto’s fastest goal of the season 49 seconds into tonight’s game. Andreas Johnsson previously held the fastest goal for the Marlies at 1:08 on Oct. 27, 2017 against the Syracuse Crunch.
- Toronto went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill and 0-for-4 on the power play.
- Toronto had a 37-35 edge in shots in all situations.
- Kasperi Kapanen, Chris Mueller and Rinat Valiev led the Marlies with four shots on goal.
- The Marlies are 7-3-0-0 against Atlantic Division opponents this season. The Marlies win their regular season series, going 2-0-0-0 against Lehigh Valley.
Goals: B. Smith (15)
Assists: C. Mueller (16)
Points: B. Smith (28)
PPG: A. Johnsson (5), C. Mueller (5)
Shots: K. Rychel (80)
+/-: B. Smith (+23)
PIMS: A. Nielsen (60)
On tonight’s game:
I thought we had a good game. We played against a good hockey team with a lot of offence and they come at you with a lot of speed, I think we saw that. We controlled the game for the most part and did a lot of things we wanted to do. But as soon as they get the puck they are able to transition really well and they make it hard on you that way. But I like a lot of things that our guys did except for the fact that we just didn’t generate enough offence clearly. We get a lucky bounce early that gets us a goal but then we don’t get a whole lot after that. So, we want to make sure we continually attack the net with a purpose. I didn’t think we did that enough but overall, I liked our game today and I like the fact that we were able to find a way to get that second goal to tie the game, get through a penalty kill late in the game and in overtime and then find a way to get the extra point in the shootout. So, a lot of positive things, like I said that’s a good hockey team and they were rested, they have been sitting here in Toronto waiting for us. We have been travelling and got home at 4 o’clock in the morning from Laval the other day so it’s a real positive sign for our team here to take care of them and we’re going to get ready to do it again tomorrow.
On special teams:
The penalty kill I thought was really good. The power play had some opportunities but wasn’t great in overtime. 4-on-3, frankly, is something we don’t spend any time on practicing and it shows. We had a couple opportunities at 5-on-4 but not enough. A game like this is one where the power play needs to be able to get you one and it didn’t. So that made it a lot harder on us but fortunately our penalty kill, even though we didn’t have to call on it too much today, was good.
– Head coach Sheldon Keefe
January 6 vs Bridgeport – 4:00 p.m. ET
January 12 at Charlotte – 7:15 p.m. ET
January 13 at Charlotte – 6:00 p.m. ET
January 19 at Syracuse – 7:00 p.m. ET
January 20 at Binghamton – 7:05 p.m. ET
The Toronto Marlies will look to win their third straight game when they face the visiting Lehigh Valley Phantoms, AHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyer, at Ricoh Coliseum on Friday.
Entering Friday’s game, the Marlies have scored five goals in each of their last two outings and outscored opponents 10-3 in that span. Andreas Johnsson and Adam Brooks have each scored in consecutive games, while defenceman Travis Dermott has six assists over the Marlies’ last two games.
The Marlies (24-11-0-0) come into the game holding the top spot in the North Division after defeating Laval 5-2 on Wednesday night. So far this season, the Marlies are 9-7-0-0 when playing at home.
Lehigh Valley (21-10-2-2) are second in the Atlantic Division and boast an 11-6-0-1 record on the road. The Phantoms enter play coming off of a 5-2 loss to Charlotte last Saturday.
The two sides have faced each other just once this season, a 5-1 win for the Marlies back in November. Trevor Moore scored a pair of goals in that game, while Chris Mueller and Dmytro Timashov each had multi-point nights.
The Phantoms are led offensively by the trio of Phil Varone (10G, 28A), Danick Martel (17G, 9A) and Oskar Lindblom (11G, 14A), who all have at least 25 points this season.
Puck drop for tonight’s game is scheduled for 7:00 and it is a Winning Weeknight, meaning if the Marlies win, all fans in attendance will receive vouchers for tickets to an upcoming game. Tickets for tonight’s matchup are still available.
Fans can catch all the action live on Leafs Nation Network (TV) or through AHL Live.
Follow us on Twitter for pre- and post-game coverage, as well as live in-game updates, from Ricoh Coliseum.
Head to Head