After a strong showing in the first period, including rookie goaltender Matt O'Connor stopping all 14 shots he faced, everything fell apart the rest of the way as the Marlies (10-3-0) showed why they sit up top of the North Division some 14 points ahead of the last place Senators (3-7-0) as O'C had to deal with a total of 42 shots as the game wore on.
Luke Richardson tries to shake up the line up as rookie's Tobias Lindberg and Nick Paul were tonight's healthy scratches. But the plan backfired as Toronto won easily with a stronger offense, better defense and sound goaltending in fourth year pro Garret Sparks. O'Connor let in some soft goals including one going five hole on a odd man rush that led to a frustrating night as he continues to struggle in searching for his first professional win.
Toronto plays a much faster paced game and after failing to score in the first, they quickly got on board the following period as William Nylander nets one on a beautiful wrister beating O'Connor stick side for the game's first goal just 2:26 into the second. Then less than seven minutes later, Toronto defenseman Andrew Campbell takes a pass up high in the slot shooting through Colin Greening's leg's on a identical spot on net as Nylander's and the rout is on for the Marlies.
Senators would have zero flow to their game and the Marlies continued to pour it on with several odd man rushes. But with a heavyweight fight having taken place between Guillaume Lepine and Justin Johnson, it finally gets the home fans something to cheer about as Lepine would land some viscous rights to Johnson's noggin winning easily.
It would however, be short lived as a minute later Toronto ups their lead by three as forward Richard Panik slides the biscuit through O'Connor's five hole on a two on one rush, sending the message that they are just playing a better, all around game then the Senators.
Ryan Dzingel brings some life, yet briefly, scoring his third of the season in the third striking the puck off the post and off of Sparks' leg making it a 4-1 contest. The goal energizes the team bringing some life as the physical play picks up with some good solid hits, but Toronto would answer in a deflating way as All-Star defenseman T.J. Brennan tallies two late goals scoring on his last on a one timer from the blueline to seal the win.
- O'Connor (0-5-0, 4.24 GAA, 0.865 SV%) played well in the first but became unglued the rest of thew way as he takes baby steps in getting comfortable facing professional shooters. But this has to be beginning to wear on him and at some point you have to wonder how long will his confidence (what little he might have) in taking a hit. Rick Wamsley, are you available?
- McCormick inserted on the first line moving Greening to the checking line with Zack Stortini and David Dziurzynski. Dzingel moves over to center Alex Guptill and Buddy Robinson. Such an odd sight seeing Greening and Stortini on the same line, and Max needs to go back at center where he's much better grinding away throughout the ice instead of the wing.
- Sens had a lengthy 5-3 power play in the first period but couldn't cash in as the team went 0/5 on the night sending them down to the bottom third of the league. PK found themselves stopping 6/7.
- Perhaps part of the reason on why Lindberg and Paul sat is Richardson wasn't happy with the performance out of his prized rookies in Friday night's loss in Rochester. But it's a gutsy call in sending a message as Luke is not afraid to sit someone if he's not happy, as it seemed to work for Shane Prince a few years back.
- O'Connor, a victim of some mock cheers in making some saves late in the third period, has created a similar scenario with the likes of Robin Lehner in his rookie season. As the one thing Lehner brought out back then was his abundant irritations with the Binghamton crowd through the media, as it's been rather low keyed so far with the older, more mature Matt. But you can tell it bothered him though, as he then threw the puck to the sideboards after the whistle in a frustrating matter. I do feel for him, growing pains and on top of that a questionable defense in front at times can mess with your head.
- Not a good night by defenseman Patrick Mullen as he turned over the puck at least three (!) different times and ended the game with a -1. However, it's better then Captain slow with a -3, and Dzingel ended up at -2 but had, count them, 9 shots!
- The team will try again for a 'W' with a late Sunday afternoon affair with the Phantoms down in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. I would expect Chris Driedger to get the nod in net and try to salvage the weekend with a much needed two points.
*Cover Pic & Insert Courtesy of Alicia Strauch.