In need of an answer after Wednesday’s humiliating loss at Laval, the Toronto Marlies took a big step towards getting their season back on track Friday night in Belleville.
The game started at a hectic pace, although the quality of the overall game was lacking. It lasted until the sixth minute before the first concrete scoring chance appeared when Roby Jarventie came on the end of a cross play, but Erik Källgren robbed him with a save.
When he made his AHL debut for the Marlies, Alex Steeves was very remarkable in the first period. He showed a great outburst of speed to win ball possession that created some offensive zone pressure and led directly to two scoring chances. The rookie scored four shots on goal through the first 20 minutes.
Marlies wasted the game’s first powerplay and almost fell behind immediately after five-on-five. Andrew Agozzino hit the post from a non-promising angle on a partial outburst, but it’s so close that both teams managed to break the deadlock.
The midfield opened up offensively, with both teams coming on target.
A defensive breakdown by Toronto in the opening minute should have resulted in a lead for the senators, but Källgren had other ideas that stoned Egor Solokov to pieces.
Marlies’ second powerplay in the game was a better effort than the first, with Josh Ho-Sang rejected twice in tight.
Belleville was similarly frustrated with the extra man. For the second time of the match, Agozzino hit the post, though he will feel he should have scored on a rebound effort.
The first goal of the match finally came midway through the match. Excellent work by Kristians Rubins, who kept the puck deep along the left boards, was rewarded after the puck was finally released and driven around the Senators net. Mac Hollowell got possession of the ball and tried to find Joey Anderson for a diversion into the castle, where the intended pass was diverted by Jonathan Aspirot and into the net past Kevin Mandolese.
It took Toronto just four minutes to double their lead. Marlies finally took advantage of the power play, where Ho-Sang redirected a shot from Semyon Der-Arguchintsev and put Marlies ahead 2-0.
Belleville was allowed back into the match just over 60 seconds later after an individual foul. Curtis Douglas chose a low-percentage square pass across his own blue line that was easily cut out. Parker Kelly found Agozzino, who this time found the back of the net.
The Marlies were close to regaining their two-goal advantage through Pavel Gogolev on an excellent feed from Mikail Abramov, but Mandolese stood high between the tubes for the Senators.
Toronto began the final frame with a decisive penalty kick that set the stage for the Marlies to blow the match back with even strength.
After hard work by Abramov and Goglev to win an offensive zone faceoff, the puck was switched to Brennan Menell on the right wall. With nothing much on for the defender, he chose to shoot through the traffic and the puck had eyes as it found the back of the net – a low percentage game with a happy ending.
Belleville almost scored at the resumption of play, but Marlies was in debt to Källgren, who once again robbed Matthew Wedman.
However, the Senators traveled within one, with another goal that could be avoided as the Marlies turned the puck cheaply and missed tasks allowing Agozzino another goal in the evening.
A quick transition game quickly restored Toronto’s advantage with two goals: Steeves combined with Ho-Sang sneaking his second of the night.
You sensed that there was a renewed confidence around Marlies, who scored a fifth goal shortly after. After Joseph Duszak’s shot produced a rebound, Anderson threw himself in front of any Belleville player to put the game to bed.
It rounded the score despite additional powerplay opportunities for both teams as the Marlies triumphed to a comprehensive 5-2 victory.
Post game notes
– For the second time this year, Josh Ho-Sang made a few goals. I felt like he sometimes overplayed the puck while trying to do too much on his own, but that may be understandable after the recent games.
– Alex Steeves made an impressive performance in his debut. The signing of college-free agents disappeared as the fight continued, which can be expected after a long hiatus. On two occasions he showed a speed turn to beat an opponent. He was certainly not pale for making a play or shooting the puck when the opportunity was there. There was no point in simply postponing to a more experienced line mate. The confident rookie was entrusted with the PP1 time, and an assist on Ho-Sang’s second goal was a nice addition to his debut performance.
“He brought a lot of energy,” Greg Moore said. “He has a really good shot, a good scoring touch. His competitiveness and work ethic are some of the best we’ve seen. It’s been a bit of a long road since his injury, and the reason he could have such a great one influence in his first fight back, is because of all the work he has put in during that free period. “
– I’m a big fan of Pavel Gogolev and have been disappointed to see him lower in the ranks so far this season. Two equally strong assists in this game for the left wing is not a bad way to open his account for the year. My preference is that Greg Moore holds the line Gogolev – Abramov – McKenna together for an extended look.
– My first star in this game was Erik Källgren. Belleville created 10 dangerous scoring chances in this match, but took advantage of only one. Stopping only 26 shots rarely gives you the first star, but he was the biggest difference between the two sides in this outing.
– Friday’s lines:
Seney – SDA – Anderson
Steeves – Semyonov – Ho-Sang
Gogolev – Abramov – McKenna
Michaelis – Douglas – Gabriel
Rubins – Menell
Dahlström – Hollowell
Konge – Duszak