TORONTO – Jiri Tlusty doesn’t know why he’s been scoring in bunches lately, he just hopes it continues.
Tlusty broke his own franchise record with a six-point night – two goals and four assists – to lead the Toronto Marlies past the visiting Providence Bruins 6-4 in American Hockey League action on Wednesday night.
“Everything’s clicking,” said Tlusty, who had a five-goal game against Syracuse on Feb. 18 to establish the Marlies’ previous franchise mark.
“I don’t know what’s the magic with our linebut I hope we can keep it going for the next month or two.”
Tim Stapleton, in his first game back with the Marlies after a three-game NHL stint with the Toronto Maple Leafs, had a pair of goals while Anton Stralman and Jeremy Williams also scored to help the Marlies (31-23-7 )snap a three-game losing streak at home.
Stapleton also had two assists for a four-point game, while Bates Battaglia chipped in with three helpers. Stapleton, Battaglia and Tlusty form Toronto’s top line, and the unit has been ripping it up of late.
“We’ve all got separate things we add to the table,” said Stapleton, who scored his first career NHL goal as well as a shootout winner while he was up with the Leafs. “Bates does a lot of the wall work and dirty things, Jiri’s a passer and shooter and I’m a passer and shooter. We know where each other is going to be at all times, and we’ve got good chemistry.”
Added Marlies captain Ben Ondrus: “All three of them have found something special together. They’ve been able to put it together for a long time now, and we’ve reaped the benefits.”
Mikko Lehtonen scored twice and Brad Marchand and Vladimir Sobotka added singles for the Bruins (34-23-5), who suffered their third consecutive loss. Martin St. Pierre and Johnny Boychuk each added two assists for the Bruins.
Tlusty, 20, was named the AHL’s player of the month in February after piling up 12 goals, 23 points and a plus-11 rating in 11 games. In his past 16 games, the left winger, who was drafted 13th overall by the Leafs in 2006, has 16 goals and 34 points.
The native of Slany, Cze., has 23 goals and 56 points in 50 AHL games this season.
“He’s a great kid,” Stapleton said. “He gets along with everyone, he’s fun to be around, he’s a positive kid and he deserves everything he gets.”
Marlies goalie Justin Pogge stopped 25 of 29 shots for the victory, while Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask made 20 saves.
Both goaltenders were drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs Pogge 90th overall in 2004; Rask 21st in 2005 but Rask was traded to the Boston Bruins in exchange for goalie Andrew Raycroft in June of 2006.
Rask led the Bruins to a 4-3 shootout win over Pogge and the Marlies in the first-ever meeting between the two goalies back on Dec. 19.
“You always want to beat the guy at the other end,” Pogge said. “I mean, he’s a great goalieIt’s in the back of my head, you want to show it was a good call (by Toronto) and it was a good move for him, too.
“It’s a natural rivalryI’m glad to come out on top tonight even if it was a high-scoring game.”
The game was tied 1-1 after the first period and 3-3 through 40 minutes.
Tlusty opened the scoring late in the first period when he collected the puck at the side of the crease and deposited the puck past Rask at 16:39. The Bruins responded less than two minutes, with Lehtonen skating in from the top of the right faceoff circle and whipping a high wrist shot past Pogge’s glove at 18:26.
Toronto wasted little time regaining the lead in the second period, while on the power play, as Stapleton’s slapshot from the right point beat a screened Rask just 10 seconds into the middle frame. Once again, Lehtonen drew the Bruins even, pounding a rebound past Pogge at 13:33 of the second period.
Tlusty’s second goal of the game, a deflection of Jamie Sifers’ point slapshot, eluded Rask at 17:11. But for the third time in the game, the Bruins fought back and notched the tying goal on Marchand’s unassisted market at 19:24.
With the Marlies on a 5-on-3 power play advantage, Stralman’s point blast beat a screened Rask at 8:09 of the third period and gave Toronto a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. Williams scored a power play marker at 13:17 his 18th goal in 28 AHL games this season and Stapleton added his second of the contest at 15:45.
Sobotka had pulled the Bruins to within 5-4 at 15:02, but Stapleton’s marker 43 seconds later sealed the victory for the Marlies.
Toronto was 2-for-7 on the power play, while Hershey went 1-for-7 with the man advantage.
The Marlies are off until Friday, when they travel to Hamilton to face the Bulldogs. Toronto hosts the Hershey Bears on Saturday, and then heads back to Hamilton for a Sunday matinee. Providence, meanwhile, heads to Manitoba for a pair of games against the Moose on Friday and Saturday.