TORONTO – The Toronto Marlies couldn’t close the deal.
San Antonio’s Josh Tordjman stopped 38 shots while Chad Kolarik and Dylan Reese each scored as the Marlies lost Game 6 of their North Division semifinal series 3-0 to the Rampage on Sunday , ensuring there will be a seventh and deciding game.
The winner-take-all contest goes Monday night in Toronto.
The Marlies, playing in front of just 1,829 fans at the Ricoh Coliseum, got down early and simply couldn’t solve Tordjman.
“He was great, he played a great game,” said Marlies defenceman Jay Harrison. “He’s been pretty solid for them most of the series, so that’s nothing new. You’ve got to expect to run into a hot goalie at least one game in a playoff series.”
Kolarik and Reese beat Toronto goalie Scott Clemmensen with first-period markers, while Rampage defenceman Brendan Bell rounded out the scoring mid-way through the third with a power-play marker. Bell now has two goals and seven points against his old team in the series.
San Antonio’s fast, aggressive play seemed to keep the Marlies from completely finding their rhythm. Toronto’s frustration boiled over a bit toward the end of the second period, as some undisciplined play gave the Rampage an extended 5-on-3 advantage.
And whenever the Marlies were concentrating on scoring and managed to muster up a solid push, Tordjman was there.
“I think we played a really, really good game,” said Harrison, adding his team just didn’t have the finishing touch it needed on this night. “For the most part we did the things we wanted to do, got bit twice in the first period by tiny little errors that ended up costing us, but I think we came out as hard as we’ve come out all year. We’ve got to take that away from this one.”
Captain Ben Ondrus saw plenty of positives in Game 6 too, even if the Marlies now have to concentrate on employing them for one more game this series.
“I thought we came out and we did exactly what we wanted to right off the bat and they got a couple breaks and capitalized on them, their goalie made some saves,” Ondrus said. “We’ve just got to keep executing our game plan and bring it to them (in Game 7).”
The Marlies, who won Games 4 and 5 in San Antonio to seize a 3-2 series lead, carried the play in the first period, but still found themselves down a pair of goals after 20 minutes.
Kolarik, who had a two-point night, got San Antonio rolling when he ripped a low shot past Clemmensen to the stick side to open the scoring just over five minutes into the game. Toronto had several quality chances to tie the game after that, but Tordjman always had the answer. His best save came when he denied Marlies sniper Jiri Tlusty on a partial breakaway.
Then, with 3:20 remaining in the first, Reese finished off a beautiful three-way passing play to make it 2-0.
NOTES: David Ling, who took an elbow in Game 3, returned to the Toronto lineup after missing Games 4 and 5. … The Marlies went 0-for-4 on the power play.