TORONTO – Justin Pogge made a winning return to Toronto.
The San Antonio goaltender made 32 saves and Mikkel Boedker and Chad Kolarik scored in the shootout to lead the visiting Rampage to a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Marlies in AHL action Wednesday afternoon.
The Rampage outscored the Marlies 2-0 in the shootout to secure the victory as Pogge stopped all four Toronto shooters he faced.
“It felt good, it was a little different playing against my old squad,” said Pogge, who spent his first three pro seasons (2006-09) in the Marlies net. “It was a lot of fun.”
Brett MacLean, Gavin Morgan, with a shorthanded marker, and Joel Perrault, with 25 seconds remaining in the game, scored for the Rampage in regulation time. The game was played in front of 6,339 fans – mostly schoolchildren being treated to a rare weekday afternoon game – at Ricoh Coliseum.
“We let a point slip away,” said Marlies winger Tim Brent, who scored his third goal in four games. “Our playoff race has to start now. Every point counts and we can’t have breakdowns on the power play that lead to shorthanded goals . . . That cost us a point in the standings and you never know, it might cost us a playoff spot at the end of the season.”
Brent was denied in the shootout after returning from a pectoral injury that kept him out of the first 42 games of the season.
The win snapped a two-game losing skid for San Antonio as the Rampage improved to 19-19-7 on the season. It was the first game of a massive 14-game, 29-day road trip for the Rampage.
For Pogge, the win marked a successful return to Toronto.
The 23-year-old, who was traded to the Anaheim Ducks organization last summer, was a draft pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs (90th overall in 2004). He’s the Marlies’ all-time leader in games played by a goaltender (142), wins (71) and shutouts (seven).
Pogge and the Rampage beat the Marlies 5-2 in San Antonio on Jan. 17, the only other meeting between the two teams this season.
“It’s good, I’m playing well and working hard and it’s a little bit different scenery for me,” Pogge said of his relocation. “Toronto was always top-notch to me, but sometimes it’s time to move on and I want to thank (Leafs GM Brian) Burke for trading me and giving me a chance to play somewhere else.
“I miss the city (of Toronto), I love the city, but it’s pretty nice to be playing in a warm city, too.”
Justin Hodgman and Kyle Rogers had the other goals for the Marlies, who have dropped three straight. Toronto (17-21-8) has just two wins in its past 11 games and sits last overall in the Western Conference.
“It’s definitely tough, giving up those two late goals, especially the shorthanded one,” said Marlies defenceman Phil Oreskovic.
Twice, Toronto had a one-goal lead in the final 10 minutes of the third period, only to see San Antonio rally back and draw even.
Marlies goalie Joey MacDonald made 28 saves in a losing effort.
“Joey MacDonald was real solid for us, as usual,” Oreskovic said, “It’s just too bad we couldn’t pull out the win for him.”
San Antonio led 1-0 after the first period before Toronto tied the game early in the middle frame to send the teams into the final 20 minutes deadlocked at 1-1.
MacLean opened the scoring late in the first period when he deflected defenceman Joel Perrault’s high shot from the point past MacDonald at 19:02. The Marlies netminder had left the crease to play the puck, but his clearing attempt was intercepted by Perrault, who quickly directed a shot at the net before MacDonald could get back into position.
Hodgman, a rookie pro skating in his fourth AHL game, tied the game at 6:18 of the second period. He corralled a rebound in the slot and flipped the puck over Pogge’s outstretched glove. It was Hodgman’s second goal since joining the Marlies after being obtained in a trade with the Rockford IceHogs on Jan. 10. He also assisted on Rogers’ goal for his first multi-point game in the AHL.
Rogers gave Toronto a 2-1 lead when he scored 26 seconds into the third period. He lifted a loose puck in the slot over Pogge, but Morgan tied the game at 12:46 of the third – while MacLean was in the penalty box serving a hooking minor – when he found the puck during a goalmouth scramble and wristed it over a crouching MacDonald.
The Marlies replied with a shorthanded marker of their own when Brent intercepted a pass and beat Pogge with a deke at 17:09 of the third period. The lead was short lived, however, as Perrault picked up a rebound at the side of the Toronto net and beat a scrambling MacDonald at 19:35 to send the contest to extra time.
Toronto was 0-for-4 on the power play, while San Antonio went 0-for-2 with the man advantage.
The Marlies travel to Lake Erie to face the Monsters on Friday, while San Antonio continues its road trip with a game against the Syracuse Crunch on Friday.