Round two of the American Hockey League’s 2018 “Battle of Ontario” had a much different look to it than round one.
After a back and forth Belleville win on Friday, the Toronto Marlies out-skated the Senators on Saturday night, en route to an 8-2.
Head Coach Troy Mann says the difference overnight was the sense of urgency shown by the Marlies.
The Marlies got the first two shots of the game, on Filip Gustavsson who backed up Mike Condon last night, but the young Swedish goaltender stopped both chances.
He would make another save on Carl Grundstrom a few minutes later, as his countrymen pounced on a Belleville turnover, but snapped a shot right into the logo in the middle of Gustavsson’s jersey.
One of Belleville’s best early chances came about 9:00 in when Chase Balisy knocked a long pass out of mid air in the neutral zone and streaked around behind the Toronto net, but couldn’t cram the puck past Eamon McAdam in goal for the Marlies.
Toronto kept the pressure on the Sens for the first 15:00 of the game, using their speed and pinpoint passing to keep Belleville on the run, but the Senators were able to survive and killed off the game’s first power play in that stretch as well.
But the Marlies would break Gustavsson just past the 16:00 mark, with Josh Jooris jumping on a Colin Greening rebound in the paint, for his 3rd of the season to open the scoring.
They’d get another one less than a minute later following a fantastic Gustavsson kick save.
Sam Gagne slipped the rebound pass in front to Grundstrom and he tucked it between the legs of the Belleville netminder to make it 2-0.
Drake Batherson had a chance to break the shutout late in the frame but couldn’t beat McAdam up high on a partial break.
Each team would get a power play within the first 4:00 of the second, but neither team could capitalize. Toronto did have a good chance on their man advantage opportunity, when Timothy Liljegren walked around Jonathan Racine and got stopped by the glove of Gustavsson.
Belleville had another good chance around the 7:00 mark when Christian Wolanin snuck in off the point and took a pass to the far side of the net but couldn’t put a backhand past McAdam.
Chris Mueller made it 3-0 at 7:53, knocking a low shot from Liljegren out of the air and down past Gustavsson.
Belleville’s power play would stay hot with Drake Batherson continuing on his hot tear snapping a wrist shot from the far circle past McAdam for his 7th goal of the season and 7th point in two nights.
The Sens man advantage unit was 2/5 on Friday against Toronto, but failed to convert on a four-on-three power play moments later.
Toronto made it 4-1 just past 16:00 in, when former Belleville Bull Jordan Subban fired a low wrist shot past Gustavsson, on the power play.
It was Subban’s first game in Belleville since the American Hockey League came to the city, after he was traded from Utica to the west coast and then was a healthy scratch on Friday.
The Senators almost scored with about a 1:30 left in the period, but McAdam made an outstanding save to come across and rob Chase Balisy and it stayed 4-1 after two periods.
It was all Marlies in the third period.
Grundstrum grabbed another less than 2:00 into the third, finishing off a two-on-one pass from Mason Marchment, to make it 5-1 Marlies.
Then Sam Gagner nabbed a power play marker for his 6th of the season, with one second left in a penalty to Pat Sieloff, pushing the Toronto lead to 6-1.
Mason Marchment picked up his third goal in two nights and made it 7-1, by tipping home another shot from distance.
Belleville’s Andreas Englund would score his 2nd of the season at 11:54 of the frame to make it 7-2, but then Toronto’s Adam Cracknell would come right back to score another under a minute later and increased the lead to 8-2.
Things got a little bit chippy near the end of the game with some big hits and scuffles after the whistle but the officials were able to keep things under control.
Final shots were 40-25 Toronto, as the Marlies used their speed and skill to control the pace of play and the majority of the puck possession.
Mann says the plus side is that his team earned a weekend split with one of the AHL’s top clubs, but there’s lots of work to do, especially on the defensive side of the puck.
The Senators are off until Wednesday when they continue a stretch of five straight home games against the Utica Comets, before the Marlies return again next Friday for the third of 12 meetings this season.
The home stand finishes on Saturday against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, will all of those games having 6:50 p.m. broadcast times on CJBQ, for Eastern Overhead Doors and Deerhaven Farm and Garden.
You can click here to read the box score from Saturday night.