Colin Murphy scored the winner to help the Marlies beat the Grand Rapids Griffins 5-3 in American Hockey League action Sunday afternoon in front of 4,794 fans at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto.
Murphy swooped in to pick up a loose puck on the lip of the crease and fire a backhander past Griffins goalie Stefan Liv on a Marlies (28-35-6) power play.
It was no surprise the game-winner came on a power play, given the fact referee Steve Kozari was very liberal with his whistle all afternoon.
The third period also featured a short-handed goal, a penalty-shot goal and a goal resulting from a defensive blunder by Toronto defenceman Chris Harrington.
Brett Engelhardt put Toronto ahead 3-2 with a beautiful shot over Liv’s glove on a penalty shot after he was brought down on a breakaway.
However, Grand Rapids (33-26-6-5) drew even just moments later when Harrington bounced an attempted clearing pass off Marlies goalie Justin Pogge and into the net.
Pogge was returning to the net after leaving the puck behind the goal for Harrington, who hit the stopper’s pad with his pass and watched helplessly as it bounced in the net.
The Griffins’ Jon Insana was credited with the goal.
However, the Marlies shook it off and Eric Westrum followed Murphy’s winner by scoring the insurance marker on a 2-on-1 rush when he squeezed a shot through Liv.
Toronto, which fell behind 1-0 in the first period, drew even in the second when Karel Pilar scored his first of the season on 4-on-3 power play. Pilar, who made his season debut one day earlier versus the Hamilton Bulldogs, one-timed a Westrum pass past Liv.
The big Czech defenceman continues to try and get his career back on track after enduring an ailment with his heart.
Tyson Nash also scored for the Marlies, while Ben Simon scored shorthanded for Grand Rapids in the third. Eric Himelfarb opened the scoring in the first for Griffins.
The win marked the Marlies’ fourth straight home victory.
It was a rough weekend for Grand Rapids, which had consecutive shootout losses to the Manitoba Moose in Winnipeg prior to landing in Toronto to face its West Division rivals.
While not mathematically eliminated, Toronto is all but eliminated from the playoff picture, while the Griffins continue to hang on to the division’s final post-season spot.