The Toronto Marlies won a pair of close contests over the Syracuse Crunch at home on Saturday and Sunday, sweeping the weekend series against their North Division rivals.
In their first meeting at Ricoh Coliseum since last year’s North Division Finals, the Crunch struck first on an early power play opportunity just three minutes into the game.
Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen each answered with power play goals of their own in the first period, and that proved to be enough as Garret Sparks delivered another standout performance, stopping 31 shots on the way to his eighth victory of the season as the Marlies beat the Crunch by a final score of 2-1.
Back at it on Sunday, the Marlies and Crunch battled through another tight game. Justin Holl scored his first of the season while shorthanded less than five minutes into the opening period, but Syracuse answered with a shorthanded goal of their own midway through the first.
Neither team was able to score again until midway through the third, when Miro Aaltonen fired a one-timer to put the Marlies ahead 2-1. Ben Smith added an empty-net goal and the Marlies finished out the weekend with a 3-1 win.
With the two wins this weekend, the Marlies have now won four straight and outscored their opponents 13-4 over that streak.
Kasperi Kapanen earned a goal and two assists on the weekend, bringing his points total up to seven (5G, 2A). Kapanen has now scored in three of his past four games, after notching the game winner on Saturday.
Andreas Johnsson also scored a goal and added two assists in weekend play. He now has a four game point streak and is second on the team in scoring, with 13 points (7G, 6A).
On the blueline, Martin Marincin had an assist in Sunday’s contest and now leads all Marlies defencemen in both goals (2) and points (7).
Between the pipes, Sparks leads the league with a 1.51 goals against average (GAA) and .947 save percentage (SV%). Calvin Pickard, who earned his fourth win in Sunday’s game, also improved his GAA to 2.20 and his SV% to .924.
The Marlies are now 8-1-0-0 against North Division opponents and will look to keep rolling when they head to Utica on Wednesday for a clash with the Comets.
Following Wednesday’s game, the Marlies return home for a pair of games against the Belleville Senators next weekend. Saturday’s game is scheduled for 1:30 at Air Canada Centre, while Sunday’s will be back at Ricoh Coliseum at 4:00.