A late goal by Cal O’Reilly gave the visiting Milwaukee Admirals a 2-1 win over the Toronto Marlies on Sunday afternoon in the AHL.
The loss snapped Toronto’s three-game winning streak as the Marlies were playing for the third time in as many days.
O’Reilly’s game-winner, his sixth tally of the season, came with just over five minutes to play when he one-timed a pass from Jason Guerriero past Marlies goalie Scott Clemmensen (9-4-0) from the slot.
Toronto (16-5-0-3) had its chances to clear the zone, but wasn’t hard enough on the puck, failed to get it out and paid the price for its sloppiness in front of 3,759 fans at the Ricoh Coliseum.
“That was a playoff game,” said Toronto coach Greg Gilbert. “A 1-1 game late and we make a mistake, try and beat it off the wall, turn the puck over and it ends up in our net.
Pekka Rinne (11-8-1) was very solid in the Admirals’ goal, stopping 30 shots for the win. Rinne stoned Marlies right winger Jeremy Williams from point blank in the slot as his team clung to its one-goal lead late in the third period.
“He made some great saves at the right times,” said Toronto’s Ben Ondrus, the only Marlie to beat Rinne in the game. “I thought we played a pretty good game, we just came out on the losing end.”
Gilbert, whose team outshot Milwaukee 31-17, wasn’t pleased some of the decisions made by referee Chris Ciamaga.
“I think some of the penalties he called were quite questionable,” Gilbert said. “(Simon) Gamache gets a high-stick in the eye and we end up with a two-minute penalty (on the same play) on Brent Aubin, which puts us down. He calls one phantom high-stick on our guy, where our stick didn’t go any higher than the waist, but their guy threw his head back and (the referee) was standing in behind and couldn’t see and we get two minutes for, really, nothing”.
“Refereeing is a tough job, but you’ve got to be consistent.”
The Marlies also had a goal called back in the second period. The puck crossed the line before the whistle sounded, but Ciamaga intended to blow his whistle earlier to kill the play. Under the rules, as soon as a referee intends to blow his whistle, the play is officially dead.
After being outplayed for the majority of the opening 20 minutes, the Admirals (13-8-1-1) seized control of the game in the middle frame.
Milwaukee’s Antti Pihlstrom opened the scoring on a beautiful effort early in the second. With the teams playing four aside, Pihlstrom slipped past the Marlies defence, fought off the checking of Toronto blue-liner Phil Oreskovic from behind and stuffed the puck past Clemmensen for his 10th goal of the season.
It appeared the visitors would carry a lead into the final period, but Ondrus came through with his sixth goal of the season with just one second remaining in the second period. Darryl Boyce spotted his teammate in the slot from behind the net, fed a pass to him and watched as the Marlies captain one-timed the puck past Rinne.
That was all the offence the home team could drum up as Toronto went 0-for-6 on the power play.
“We didn’t generate a lot off the power play,” Gilbert said. “Our first power play we had some good chances down low. We keep talking about pounding the puck, getting shots through and creating some traffic and getting rebounds and we’re passing seven, eight times before we’re even getting a shot.
“To me, that’s not an effective power play and we’ve got to get back to basics.”
Despite the loss, the Marlies remain atop the North Division.
NOTES: The loss snapped a streak of four games in which the Marlies had earned at least a point. …Milwaukee left Ontario with two wins, having defeated the Hamilton Bulldogs on Saturday in Hamilton. Neither team scored a power play goal in 11 total chances.