TORONTO – Toronto came away with a 3-2 shootout victory over the visiting Lake Erie Monsters in American Hockey League action Sunday, but Marlies coach Dallas Eakins was annoyed his team needed two third period goals to get there.
“I was getting frustrated with the game,” said Eakins as the Marlies went down 2-0 in the second period. “But I took a deep breath. It was our fourth game in five nights and third in three days, so I know the boys were tired.”
Jiri Tlusty and Viktor Stalberg scored shootout goals for the Marlies, while James Reimer stopped all four Monsters shooters he faced.
The best chance in overtime came when Lake Erie’s Justin Mercier broke in alone on Reimer, but the young netminder kicked away the shot with a solid pad save.
“I just tried to keep the boys in it,” said Reimer of the breakaway stop. “One more save, right? I know we have a lot of good shooters, so I was just trying to get us to the shootout.”
The stop turned out to be a precursor to Reimer’s perfect shootout result.
“I thought they were trying to go glove side a lot,” Reimer said of the Lake Erie shooters. “But I just tried to stand my ground, take away the middle of the net.”
Centre Alex Foster, who was on fire all weekend for the Marlies, got Toronto back in the game with a power-play goal early in the third period when he spun around and slid the puck between goaltender Tyler Weiman’s pads.
It was his fifth goal in the past three games. Foster was playing in just his seventh game of the season, missing time with a lower body injury.
Minutes later, Foster fed Tlusty from almost the exact same spot in the Lake Erie zone. Tlusty sent a wrist shot over Weiman’s right shoulder for the game-tying goal.
“He’s a very fit player,” Eakins said of Foster. “He works extremely hard, he’s high energyahe was bugging the crap out of me when he was hurt (to get back on the ice).”
Weiman managed to stem the tide of Toronto momentum midway through the third, robbing Stalberg on his doorstep with a quick shoulder save. Reimer was equally up to the task, stoning Mercier by going into the splits minutes later.
Lake Erie’s Chris Durno opened the scoring early in the second period, sliding the puck past Reimer on a beautiful feed on the rush from Matt Clarke.
A roughing penalty to Marlies tough guy Jay Rosehill put Toronto in a bigger hole as captain Brian Willsie gave the Monsters a 2-0 lead late in the second, corralling the puck right off a faceoff and depositing it past an unprotected Reimer. The goal came just three seconds into the Lake Erie man advantage.
The teams went scoreless in the first period and it was a chippy opening 20 minutes, with Toronto’s Phil Oreskovic dropping the gloves early on with Lake Erie’s Patrick Bordeleau.
Notes: The Marlies have now been outscored 30-9 in the second period this season while outscoring opponents 20-10 in the thirdaThe Toronto Maple Leafs practised at Ricoh Coliseum prior to the gameaThis was the second of three straight games against the Marlies for Lake Erie, with the rubber match coming on Wednesday.