Weekly Wrap-Up: January 29, 2018
The Toronto Marlies won a pair of important divisional games this past weekend, defeating both the second-place Rochester Americans and third-place Syracuse Crunch on back-to-back nights.
Returning home from the annual boat show road trip on Friday night, the Marlies fought in a tight checking game against the Amerks. Colin Greening opened the scoring with 5:30 left in the opening period. Greening’s tenth goal of the season was assisted by Frederik Gauthier and Trevor Moore.
The two sides remained deadlocked from then until just 30 seconds remained in the game, when Jean Dupuy fought his way to a loose puck and scored an empty net goal. Garret Sparks made 31 saves for the Marlies, earning his second straight shutout, as the Marlies won 2-0.
The Marlies immediately boarded the bus and headed to Syracuse for a Saturday night showdown with the Crunch. Chris Mueller opened the scoring on the power play less than three minutes into the game, blasting a rebound into the net. Moore and Kerby Rychel had the assists. Anthony Cirelli tied it for the Crunch later in the first to send the tied game into the second.
In the second, Andreas Johnsson scored a natural hat trick to extend the Marlies lead to 4-1. Rinat Valiev earned an assist on the first Johnsson goal, while Justin Holl and Kasperi Kapanen each had assists on the second and third goals. Syracuse added a late goal in the final minute of the third as the Marlies took it by a 4-2 final.
From Syracuse, Johnsson, Holl and head coach Sheldon Keefe traveled to Utica for the 2018 AHL All-Star Classic. They were part of the Eastern Conference team that won the Skills Competition on Sunday and will compete in a 3-on-3 tournament tonight at 7:00 live on Sportsnet, NHL Network and AHL Live.
With the pair of victories, the Marlies remain in the top spot of the North Division with a 32-11-0-1 record. They are 22-6-0-0 against divisional opponents on the season.
Johnsson’s natural hat trick was the first hat trick of his AHL career. He now leads the Marlies in scoring with 20 goals, marking his second straight 20-goal season.
Friday’s shutout was the Marlies third consecutive, marking the first time in franchise history that the club has recorded three straight shutouts.
Sparks continues to lead the league in goals against average (GAA) at 1.60 and save percentage (SV%) at .944.
Calvin Pickard, who made 16 saves in Saturday’s victory, is second in the league for GAA at 1.942 and holds a .928 SV%.
The Marlies will enjoy the remainder of the All-Star break before heading to Rochester on Friday to face off against the Amerks.