The Toronto Marlies are starting to emerge to be one of the better teams in the AHL after Friday night’s convincing 4-1 victory over the slumping Binghamton Devils at Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena. League leading Goaltender Garret Sparks (7-2-0-2, 1.57 GAA, 0.944 SV%) stopped 33 shots for Toronto for their seventh road win in nine games this season. Meanwhile the Devils have lost three in a row and five of the last seven.
Binghamton (5-5-1-0) competed but didn’t have the horses that Toronto possesses. But they did manage to take the early lead on a goal by defenseman Jacob MacDonald, his fourth of the season from a shot near the point on a delayed penalty call with the extra Devils’ forward on the ice. However, that would be all the BDevils would muster on Sparks the rest of the way.
It was all Toronto (10-4-0-0) after that as Devils’ netminder Mackenzie Blackwood didn’t help his cause in letting in four goals on ten shots combined in the final two periods along without much help from the defense.
First it was a golf chip over the mass of players near the crease by Marlies’ forward Nikita Soshnikov that sent the puck by Blackwood that tied it at one apiece. Followed by a fluke result off a redirect to the back of the net of the right skate of Josh Jacobs near the crease, although Marlies forward Andreas Johnsson was left all alone and was ready to pounce by the side of the cage with an anticipated cross ice pass by forward Kerby Rychel, who was instead credited for his third goal of the season that gave Toronto a 2-1 lead in the second.
Martin Marincin then made mince meat out of Blackwood as he pulled him completely out of position on a fake slapper and simply rode the puck into the empty net on a backhander for his first of the season that gave his team a two goal cushion 2:17 left in the second period.
With the Devils now down 3-1 and Blackwood pulled for the extra man, a careless event took place in the offensive zone circle as a faceoff violation was called with less than three minutes on the clock with the new rules in place that was abused and basically ended any last minute heroics from the Devils.
Toronto tacked on an empty netter, again by Marincin at 18:52, that sent Binghamton to their third straight loss and a .500 record over the course of 11 games.
Forwards; Blandisi-Kearns-Lappin, Gignac-Kennedy-Bastian, Baddock-Rooney-Speers, Mandat-Cangelsoi-Thomson. Defensemen; Strait-Jacobs, Kapla-Loov, MacDonald-Dyblenko. In Goal; Mackenzie Blackwood. Back up; Ken Appleby. Scratches; John Quenneville (inj.), Blake Pietila (inj.), Colton White and Ryan Kujawinski (inj.). Kearns, Lappin and Strait with the A’s.
Post Game Notes
- Specialty Teams; Toronto is defensively sound as they are ranked second in protecting the net yielding just 2.23 goals per game and tenth with 29.00 shots allowed coming into tonight’s contest. Devils are 19th (3.20) and 16th (29.70) respectively. Blocked shots and shutting down the shooting lanes on the PK was on display for the third ranked unit at 88.1% for the Marlies.
- Binghamton did show aggressiveness with some physicality, something that has been lacking so far. But not trying to get too overly excited, still good to see.
- Good News/Bad News; The good news is shots went the Devils way (34-21) for only the second time in the last 11 games. The bad news? The offense has sorely missed John Quenneville, who is still rehabbing his shoulder in New Jersey which I originally diagnosed as a concussion. No time table has been listed for his return.
- Blackwood continues to be inconsistent and was badly outplayed in Toronto’s third goal in the middle frame when Marincin scored. He readily drops down too quickly and the league must have notes on this with the end results.
- Veteran forward Bracken Kearns with his secondary assist on MacDonals’s goal, was his team leading tenth as he provided a partial screen in front of Sparks.
- Power play also continues to be a problem as a single shot on goal was managed on a lengthy five on three advantage that would’ve made it a tie game. Should’ve, would’ve, could’ve. That’s the way it’s been lately.
- Devils’ defenseman Viktor Loov faced the former organization that drafted him in the seventh round back in 2012 before the trade with Sergei Kalinin that sent him to the Devils. Just thought I’d throw that in.
#1 Sparks (33 saves), #2 Marincin (2a), #3 MacDonald (1g).
The Devils and Marlies return to action on Saturday at The Arena for a rematch. Let’s hope for better results.