A pair of power play goals in the opening period ended up being the difference at Ricoh Coliseum on Saturday as the Marlies defeated the visiting Syracuse Crunch by a 2-1 final.
Syracuse got on the board first as Adam Erne scored just over three minutes into the game, converting on the first power play of the day.
Ten minutes later, this time with the Marlies on the man advantage, Andreas Johnsson redirected a pass from Chris Mueller to tie things up. The goal is Johnsson’s seventh of the season, while Mueller earned his eighth assist and Kasperi Kapanen his first.
Just five minutes following Johnsson’s equalizer, Kapanen netted one of his own on the power play, speeding into the offensive zone and releasing a quick shot from the top of the slot that beat Crunch netminder Louis Domingue. The goal, Kapanen’s fifth, was assisted by Johnsson (5) and Calle Rosen (6).
That would be all the scoring in the game on Saturday, as both Domingue and Garret Sparks were perfect the rest of the way.
Sparks made 31 saves to earn his eighth win of the season. He leads the American Hockey League (AHL) with a 1.51 goals against average (GAA) and .947 save percentage (SV%).
Domingue, making his season debut with Syracuse, stopped 25 shots in the loss.
With a third straight win, the Marlies now improve to 12-4-0-0 on the year and 4-2-0-0 at home. They also improve to 7-1-0-0 against North Division opponents so far this season.
Syracuse are now 4-8-1-2 this season and 1-5-0-2 when playing on the road.
The two teams will meet again tomorrow back at Ricoh Coliseum with a 4:00 start. Fans can tune in on Leafs Nation Network, the NHL Network and AHL Live.
Syracuse: A. Erne (1) (B. Thomas, D. Yan)
Goaltender: L. Domingue (25/27)
Toronto: A. Johnsson (7) PP (C. Mueller, K. Kapanen), K. Kapanen (5) PP (C. Rosén, A. Johnsson)
Goaltender: G. Sparks (31/32)
FROM THE SCORESHEET
- Andreas Johnsson opened the scoring for the Marlies at 13:54 of the first period on a power play goal and later added the secondary assist on Kapanen’s goal. Johnsson has recorded a point (2 goals, 2 assists) in his last three games.
- Kasperi Kapanen scored his fifth goal of the season at 18:56 of the first period on the power play. He added the secondary assist on Johnsson’s first period goal.
- Chris Mueller registered the primary assist on Johnsson’s opening goal. This was Mueller’s 10th point (2 goals, 8 assists) of the season.
- Calle Rosén had the primary assist on Kapanen’s late first period goal. This was Rosén’s fifth assist in six games.
- Garret Sparks stopped 31 of 32 shots. Sparks is now 8-2-0-0 on the season with a .947 Save Percentage and a 1.51 Goals Against Average.
- Toronto went 4-for-5 on the penalty kill and 2-for-5 on the power play.
- Syracuse had a 32-27 edge in shots in all situations.
- Frederik Gauthier led the Marlies with five shots on goal.
- The Marlies are 6-1-0-0 against North Division opponents this season.
Goals: B. Smith (8)
Assists: C. Mueller (8)
Points: B. Smith (15)
PPG: D. Timashov (3), A. Johnsson (3)
Shots: N. Soshnikov (41)
+/-: M. Marincin (+11)
PIMS: T. Dermott (24)
On tonight’s game:
Well, any win is a good win. This is a game we were a little bit concerned with in terms of how we were going to react coming back from a long trip and a long week off so to get a win is good. Obviously, we gave up the goal early on the penalty kill and we didn’t like that but then we responded really well with a great penalty kill after that and a couple of power play goals. The penalty kill was excellent all the way through and the goaltending was terrific. That made up for some of the areas we were lacking tonight.
On Garret Sparks’ performance this season:
He has been the backbone of our team. Our goaltending tandem has been very solid for us and has become something that we know we can rely on. We don’t want to rely on it as much as we have some days but it gives us a chance at success. Keeping pucks out of our net, whether it is through goaltending or defence, the way (Sparks and Pickard have) played has been really a key to success for us here over the last month or so. We want to stay with that and continue to evolve offensively and spend more time in the offensive zone.
– Head coach Sheldon Keefe
November 19 vs Syracuse – 4:00 p.m. ET
November 22 at Utica – 7:00 p.m. ET
November 25 vs Belleville – 1:30 p.m. ET (Air Canada Centre)
November 26 vs Belleville – 4:00 p.m. ET
November 29 vs Syracuse – 7:00 p.m. ET
The Toronto Marlies will host the Syracuse Crunch Saturday night at Ricoh Coliseum for the first time since last year’s North Division Finals.
The Marlies (11-4-0-0) come into the contest leading the North Division. It’s their first return home since setting out on the six-game Royal road trip, where the Marlies went 5-1-0-0, including a 3-0-0-0 record against other North Division teams.
Syracuse (4-7-1-2) enter the game sitting in last place in the North. The Crunch are coming off of a 4-2 loss to the Hershey Bears on Wednesday.
The only meeting so far this season between the Marlies and Crunch was on October 27 in Syracuse. Colin Greening scored a pair of goals in that game, which the Marlies won 4-2.
Fifteen games into the season, the Marlies are led offensively by Ben Smith who is producing at a point-per-game rate (8G, 7A).
Andreas Johnsson (6G, 4A) and Dmytro Timashov (4G, 6A) each have 10 points for the Marlies on the season.
At the other end, Syracuse are led by Cory Conacher (6G, 5A) with 11 points and rookie Anthony Cirelli (3G, 7A), who has ten points this year.
The Marlies goaltending duo of Garret Sparks and Calvin Pickard have combined for a goals against average (GAA) of 2.14 and a save percentage (SV%) of .925.
For the Crunch, they will look to Connor Ingram and recently-acquired Louis Domingue to man the net. Ingram has one win this season, with a GAA of 3.32 and SV% of .863.
In the first meeting between these two teams this season, they combined for 15 power play opportunities. Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the contest, with Toronto finishing 0/7 and Syracuse 0/8.
Coming into today’s game, Syracuse have converted on a conference-worst 12.9% of the time. The Marlies penalty kill, which has a 87.9% success rate, will look to continue shutting down Syracuse’s power play.
The Marlies, who enter with a 13.6% power play percentage, will aim to continue recent success on the man advantage against Syracuse’s penalty kill, which has a 82.3% success rate.
Puck drop for today’s game is scheduled for 4:00. Fans can tune in on Leafs Nation Network (TV) or AHL Live (online).
Follow us on Twitter for pre- and post-game coverage, as well as live in-game updates from Ricoh Coliseum.
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