TORONTO – The Lake Erie Monsters continued their mastery of the Toronto Marlies on Friday night.
Mark McCutcheon and Darcy Campbell scored second-period goals to lead the Monsters to a 3-1 win over the Marlies in American Hockey League action Friday night.
The win improved Lake Erie’s record to 4-0 against Toronto this season.
“There are reasons why we lose those games,” said Marlies head coach, Greg Gilbert. “Obviously this is a team that’s got our number right now.
“In the third, we started carrying the puck the way we play and created a lot of chances in the offensive zone and weren’t able to bury them.”
Tom Fritsche had the other goal for the Monsters (9-11-1-2). Tyler Weiman stopped 22 shots, including two solid scoring chances in the third.
Robbie Earl had the lone goal for Toronto (11-13-0-2 ). Justin Pogge made 31 saves before 1,658 spectators at Ricoh Coliseum.
Earl said Weiman was the difference in the game for Lake Erie.
“We couldn’t get a goal past him,” said Earl. “He played a good game.
“Both teams played solid and we came off with the short end of the stick.”
Toronto and Lake Erie were both 0-for-2 on the power play.
Earl opened the scoring just over two minutes into the contest after deflecting a Josef Boumedienne point shot. Toronto continued with solid pressure but Bates Battaglia hit the post less than a minute later.
McCutcheon made it 1-1 three minutes into the second, firing a low shot past a prone Pogge. Campbell took a pass from Chris Durno and scored to give Lake Erie a 2-1 advantage midway through the period.
Gilbert said the second period decided the outcome.
“We were moving the puck quick, working the positions in the first period, making the puck set the tempo which is how we want to play,” he said. “In the second period we had guys that wanted to lug it up the ice and try to beat everyone one-on-one and turn it over.
“They capitalized on their chances and we didn’t.”
Fritsche rounded out the scoring with an empty-net goal at 19:41 of the third.
Earl said his goal was the result of hard work.
“It was a go hard to the net type thing,” said Earl. “Simplify our offensive game and I was able to go to the front of the net and it went in.
“It’s a monkey off my back.”
Gilbert said he’d like to see Earl be more offensive.
“Robbie has to use his speed and he has to shoot the puck more,” he said. “He likes to carry it and sometimes overhandles it.
“His compete level was better tonight than it was in previous games. He has to continue to build on that. It was one game and we have another two this weekend.”
Earl has struggled with a groin injury this season and admits to being frustrated with the time it’s taking to get back to complete health.
“Trying to get back to where my game was before I got hurt,” he said. “It has been a slow process, frustrating at times.
“It’s a work in progress.”
Injuries and callups to the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs have left the Marlies with a depleted roster. But Gilbert says the club can’t use that as an excuse, especially when Toronto must travel to Syracuse, N.Y., on Saturday before returning home to face Hamilton on Sunday.
“You lose those guys (to NHL) and it gives an opportunity to other guys to step up and show what they can do,” Gilbert said. “We, as a group, have to be better.
“We lost a lot of one-on-one puck battles tonight.”
Notes: The loss dropped Toronto to 0-4 against Lake Erie this season . . . Six of Toronto’s 11 wins thus far have been come by a goal . . . Lake Erie has only one win in extra time this season while Toronto is 4-0-0-2 . . . Marlies winger, Jiri Tlusty had a four-game goal streak (4-1-5) snapped.