Marlies Open 2019-2020 Season with a 4-1 Victory over Belleville

Jonathan Chan
BarnBurner Sports Writer


Saturday, October 5, 2019

Marlies (4) - Senators (1)

Timothy Liljegren scored the game-winner at 12:32 of the first period, pushing the Toronto Marlies to a  4-1 victory over the Belleville Senators in their season opener Saturday afternoon. 

Liljegren scored the Marlies' second powerplay goal of the night, blasting home a one-timer just 13 seconds into the Marlies' third power play of the period, giving them a 2-0 lead they would not surrender. 

After scoring just one powerplay goal all of last season, the 17th overall pick in 2017 is thrilled to be getting a chance on the first powerplay unit. 

"It's really important for me personally to get a goal, get a little confidence. I think our PP was really good today," said Liljegren in his post-game scrum. "[Jeremy] Bracco is good finding those seams and [Pontus] Aberg has a good shot, so he'll get those goals eventually. "

Egor Korshkov scored the first goal of the Marlies’ season on a power play at 4:17 of the first period when he fought through a scramble in front of the net and slapped home a rebound over the shoulder of Belleville goaltender Marcus Hogberg.

Korshkov was one of the final cuts from the Maple Leafs camp and General Manager Laurence Gilman believes the Russian winger just needs time and experience before he makes the NHL roster.

“He's a big-bodied player, he has a high degree of skill. For him it's a matter of getting acclimated and playing meaningful minutes,” said Gilman, during his media scrum prior to the game. “The more ice time and the more opportunity he gets to see different situations, the better he'll be and hopefully get into the NHL sooner.”

Toronto (1-0-0-0) has now won five straight season-opening games and have never lost game one of a season with head coach Sheldon Keefe at the helm.

Jeremy Bracco had three assists in the contest, continuing his hot scoring from last season, in which he scored a team-high 79 points, leading to high praise from his coach. 

"He picked up where he left off. When the door opens, Bracco is going to make a play and give us opportunities to win games," said Keefe outside the locker room after the win. "Obviously it was very important for us to get going there and [Bracco] led the way for sure."

Jordan Schmaltz sealed the game with 5:24 remaining in the third. On a delayed penalty, the former St. Louis Blues’ forward took a pass in the slot and snapped the puck over Hogberg’s shoulder to give the Marlies’ the insurance goal and a 3-1 lead.

Pontus Aberg added an empty netter for the Marlies. 

Belleville had a chance to close the deficit in the dying minutes of the first but Marlies goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo robbed centre Josh Norris with a glove save on a breakaway, keeping the Senators off the board.

The Finnish-born goaltender came up big once again early in the second period, stonewalling the Senators during a flurry of offence around the Marlies’ net, including kicking the puck off the goal line and out of harm's way, saving a sure goal.

Belleville dominated most of the season period, outshooting Toronto 13-9 and pinning the Marlies’ in their zone for much of the period.

The pressure from the Senators paid off with 6:57 remaining in the second period when Alex Formenton tipped a nifty cross-crease pass from Michael Carcone past Kaskisuo to score his first AHL goal, closing the Marlies’ lead to 2-1.

Toronto was able to adjust during the second intermission and was able to shut down any offence the Senators could muster, holding onto their slim one-goal margin.

"We needed to break the momentum. We weren't playing with much purpose, which wasn't allowing us to win any shifts or establish structure in the offensive zone," said Keefe. "We needed a break and luckily the intermission helped."

Belleville (0-1-0-0) had a five-game winning streak at Coca-Cola Coliseum snapped with the loss.

Kaskisuo (1-0-0) made 31 saves for the Marlies, including a penalty shot from Nick Paul at the beginning of the third period. The goaltender continued to play well, picking up after last season's playoff run in which he had a .927 save percentage. 

Hogberg (0-1-0) made 29 saves for the Senators. 

Marlies’ forward Kenny Agostino left the game in the first period and did not return after taking a hard open-ice hit.

The Marlies will have nearly a week off before their next game on October 11 in Manitoba against the Moose.