TORONTO – Former Maple Leafs prospect Chad Rau came back to haunt the organization that drafted him Saturday afternoon.
The American Hockey League rookie had both goals for Houston as the Aeros defeated a depleted Toronto Marlies team 2-1 in overtime in a tight-checking affair.
Rau, taken 225th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2005, signed as a free agent with his home state Minnesota Wild over the summer. He scored the winner on a screened wrist shot from just inside the blue-line early in the extra period.
Much like the Wild under Jacques Lemaire, the Aeros (12-10-2) played a very defensively sound hockey game, which was no fun for Marlies coach Dallas Eakins.
“That was about as tight-checking a game as you can have,” Eakins said. “They’re a frustrating team. They just back up, back up, back up, play four guys back – it’s a real challenge.”
Playing in a very disciplined formation for most of the game, the Aeros made it very difficult for the Marlies to mount any sort of offensive attack, limiting the odd-man rushes Toronto generally thrives on.
On top of that, the Marlies (10-7-4) were missing their top two goaltenders and three offensive weapons due to a mixture of injuries and call-up duty with the NHL’s Maple Leafs.
With James Reimer hurt and Joey MacDonald backing up the Maple Leafs on the road, ex-Marlie Adam Munro was brought back on a pro tryout contract and stopped 19 shots.
Toronto was also missing forwards Christian Hanson (Leafs), Tyler Bozak (injury) and Alex Foster (injury), meaning scoring was at a premium against the defensively tight Aeros.
Toronto’s goal came courtesy of centre Darryl Boyce, who played a spirited game and was rewarded for his efforts in the third period with his first marker of the season.
“I thought he played well in the third,” Eakins said. “He was just OK earlier.”
Boyce converted a chance off a faceoff scramble, outlasting a stretched Wade Dubielewicz, who was otherwise perfect in the Houston net.
“It just landed on my stick,” Boyce said. “I just had to move laterally and slide it under his glove.”
Assisting on the goal was Marlies rookie Viktor Stalberg, who has meshed well with Boyce lately.
“We’ve played well together,” Boyce said. “We played together last year in the playoffs. I don’t have the speed that he does, but I can keep up.”
Game Notes: Toronto centre Tyler Bozak missed his second straight game with an undisclosed injuryathe two teams combined for just 11 shots in the first periodaHouston goalie Wade Dubielewicz hasn’t given up more than two goals in a game for six straight contests, but this was his first win in that stretchaMaple Leafs winger Nikolai Kulemin attended the game.