The Marlies need OT to snap losing skid

Harley Kock
BarnBurner Sports Writer


Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Final Score, Toronto Marlies 4 - Cleveland Monsters 3

Toronto, ON - Costly penalties in the second period almost blew the game for the Toronto Marlies. They ended the contest early in overtime to take a 4-3 victory over the Cleveland Monsters. Tanner MacMaster was the hero with the game winner. Joseph Woll got the start for the Marlies and stopped 14 shots. Veini Vehvilainen opposed him for the Monsters and was excellent under fire making 27 saves. It was the sixth of eight meetings between the divisional foes. Calle Rosen was supposed to return to the lineup, but with Jake Muzzin out four weeks he was called back up to the Leafs.


The game began with a horrible giveaway by Teemu Kivihalme right to Kole Sherwood. He looked surprised and didn’t get a very good shot toward Woll, who easily made the stop.


The Marlies struck first a few minutes later.


Tyler Gaudet got the puck behind the net and skated all the way up the outside of the right circle. He went cross crease to Kristians Rubins who went right back across the crease down low to a wide-open Miikka Salomaki. No chance for Vehvilainen as he was already down, Salomaki popped in the open cage to take a lead just 3:48 into the game.


Toronto was controlling the puck early on. Getting easy breakout after easy breakout with Cleveland sitting back. Their lack of aggressiveness hurt them.


Tyler Gaudet was at the Monsters blueline and made a great spin to keep control before finding a cutting Michael Kapla. He went right through the slot before picking the short side corner on Vehvilainen for a 2-0 lead. Kapla's first goal as a Marlie in his ninth game.


Gaudet was just too big for the Monsters to handle. Everytime he went behind the net, he held the puck and made good passes to keep the cycle going. Through 12 minutes Cleveland had just two shots on net. 


The Marlies got the first powerplay opportunity as Doyle Somerby took two for interference. They just couldn’t setup with the extra skater and the Monsters did a good job of denying passing lanes. 


Then Woll had one he’d probably want back.


Trey Fix-Wolansky skated into the zone and just slapped it far blocker side right by the Marlies netminder.


Just 20 seconds later Salomaki looked to have got his second. It was waived off by the referees as he interfered with Vehvilainen before it slipped by. 


Another penalty for the Monsters. This time two different infractions by Bryan Moore, who served four minutes in the box.


The period ended with a 2-1 Toronto lead. They outshot Cleveland 10-7 but the second half of the period was much closer with both teams getting chances.


With extra man to start the second, the Marlies really controlled the play and were getting good shots toward Vehvilainen. It took until the fourth one to beat him. 


Kivihalme and Tanner MacMaster went back-and-forth at the blueline before Kivihalme one-timed the puck toward the net. Gaudet with the big body infront tipped it by Vehvilainen. Gaudet's third of the season made it 3-1. "I was losing mind there for a bit … I'll take it anyway I can get it.," was what Gaudet said of breaking his goalless drought.


The first half of the second period was much like the first. Toronto was pressing but couldn’t extend their lead.


Then a huge save by Woll. 


Ryan Macinnis got out on a breakaway. He made a quick move but was sent away by the pad of Woll. Keeping it a two goal lead for Toronto but not for long.


Max Veronneau took a slash with 7:23 remaining and the Marlies went shorthanded for the first time. Very quickly it was converted. Fix-Wolansky threw it out front and it deflected off MacInnis by Woll to make it 3-2.


But a chance for the Marlies to respond as the Monster went shorthanded for the fourth time. Much like the first powerplay, they were stifled by Cleveland and it went back to five on five.


Gaudet took a late hooking penalty with :40s left in the period. Again it was converted in seconds. Right off the faceoff win Adam Clendening picked the corner on Woll to tie the game at three. 


That's how the second ended. Shots were now 19-15 still in favour of the Marlies but some costly mistakes had this one knotted up going to the final 20 minutes. The Monsters were two for two with the extra skater. "Second period got away from us, the special teams got away from us, " Head Coach Greg Moore said of the penalty kill.


Cleveland started the third with a delay of game penalty by Derek Barach to make them shorthanded for the fifth time. Toronto had decent flow on their attack but the Monsters were blocking a deflecting every shot they took. 


But again a penalty on Cleveland with 15:47 left the period gave them another chance. The Marlies couldn’t capitalize as their powerplay was very predictable trying to set up the one timer. "Our chances were there ... special teams are always a rollercoaster," Moore said of his teams powerplay.


It was a sloppy game as Toronto took another penalty. Kivihalme served it for interference. The Marlies killed their first of the night. 


They controlled the rest of the period until yet another Monster’s penalty. This one was with 2:34 remaining in the third. The powerplay expired and we went to overtime tied at three. Marlies were now dominating the shot totals 30-17 after holding the Monster's to just two in the third.


First shot was the winner just 27 seconds in. Kenny Agostino threw it from the point and it was tipped in front by MacMaster. Marlies are now two points out of the playoff picture. 


Salomaki on his first game, "I felt good and our line played well. We got a lot of O-zone time and obviously a couple of goals."


Next Up, Friday, February 28, against the Utica Comets who are currently third in the north division.