Toronto’s offense was fueled by center Joe Colborne (1+2) who netted his team-leading 18th goal of the season, while assisting on two others all of which were on the power-play. Mike Zigomanis (1+1) also picked up points on two of the Marlies’ six goals. Netminder Ben Scrivens saved 33 of 38 in what became a close game for the Marlies, earning his 11th win in the victory.
The Marlies, who netted five power-play goals, quickly jumped out to an early 1-0 lead just 3:50 into the first period, as Zigomanis netted his 13th goal of the season. After a stretch pass from defenseman Simon Gysbers sent the Marlies in on a two-on-one Jared Cowen feathered a pass to Zigomanis, who beat Tyler Plante.
Toronto followed up with a pair of power-play goals from two rookies within 28 seconds of one another, with Eric Selleck serving a five-minute major for boarding. Nazem Kadri began the sequence with a highlight-reel goal, as he dangled around Rochester defenseman Michael Caruso in the slot before depositing a backhander past Plante at 6:42. Colborne then stuffed home a rebound at the right side of the net off a point shot from Matt Lashoff for his team-leading 18th.
Mike Kostka (2+1) finally gained momentum for Rochester after a sluggish first period, earned the second star in tonight’s game after scoring the first and second goals for the team less than two minutes, one being on the power play. Captain Chris Taylor (0+2), who assisted on both those goals, Colby Robak (1+1), Mark Cullen (1+1) and Jeff LoVecchio (1+1) also all had multi-point outings in the game. In the joint effort, goaltenders Tyler Plante and Marc Cheverie blocked 26 of 32 attempts in the loss.
After a Rochester line-skirmish in which the Amerks were assessed two penalties, including a roughing call on netminder Plante, who exchanged pleasantries with Toronto after a close-call skate that landed near his catching hand, the Marlies potted two more consecutive power-play goals to up their lead to 5-0 just past the midway point of the opening frame. After Kadri drove the crease and had his original bid turned away, Greg Scott was able to find the loose puck and jam it underneath a sprawled-out Plante. Alex Foster then finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play as he beat Plante with a one-timed wrister from the right face-off dot.
The Marlies extended their lead by six with their fifth power-play goal of the contest, this time netted by Matt Caruana at 11:45. After Ryan Hamilton sent a clean pass from the right side, Caruana ripped one over the left shoulder of goaltender Cheverie, who replaced Plante at the start of the second period. The tally is Caruana’s sixth of the season. Fabian Brunnstrom also assisted on the play.
Kostka finally got the Amerks on the scoreboard 14:07 into the second stanza on the man advantage. After Taylor dished the puck to Cullen, Cullen faked the wound-up and sent it back to Taylor. Taylor then slid it to Kostka, who took the shot from the top of the point and beat Marlies goaltender Scrivens stick side for his 11th goal of the year.
Kostka and Taylor struck again and put Rochester within four with less than five minutes remaining in the second. Taylor sent the puck to Kostka from behind the Toronto net, and Kostka stuffed it behind Scrivens glove side for his second of the night. Patrick Rissmiller also picked up an assist on the tally.
After almost 10 minutes of scoreless play in a much quieter third period, Cullen put Rochester within three with his second point of the night. Winger LoVecchio fed the puck to Cullen who was waiting at the left faceoff dot. Cullen then wound up and sent the puck through traffic where it bounced off Scrivens skate and into the net making the score 6-3 at 9:43. Kostka also picked up his first helper and third point of the night on the goal.
The Amerks continued to inch back after sending their fourth and fifth unanswered goals of the night past Scrivens less than two minutes apart in what became a much more viable 6-5 contest. LoVecchio scored at 15:15 and Robak banked in a shot at 16:32.
The Marlies’ Ryan Hamilton would put the pressure on for Rochester though after he was sent to the box for a tripping minor with just over a minute left in the game. In response, the Amerks pulled Cheverie to put them on the 6-on-4 advantage. After Toronto nearly notched a goal on the open net in two different instances, Rochester’s offense continued to take jabs at the net, but Scrivens came up huge in the closing seconds of the game, sealing the victory for the Marlies.
Rochester pays a visit to its I-90 neighbors to the East on Saturday, March 12th, as they exchange pleasantries with the Syracuse Crunch at the War Memorial at Oncenter. Faceoff is at 7:35pm.