Coming off of a double overtime victory on Saturday night, and arriving into Syracuse at 2am nobody knew what to expect during Game 3. If you were concerned on how the Marlies would react, you need not worry. Head Coach Sheldon Keefe had the Toronto Marlies fired up and ready to play.
As predicted, the Marlies started ‘back up’ goalie Calvin Pickard in order to give Garret Sparks a rest after a 56 shot, double overtime victory less than 24 hours before. With the Marlies in an enviable position, leading the series 2-0 at that time, it made perfect sense to give Pickard his first AHL Playoffs start.
Pickard, 26 years old, saw only 19 shots during the entire contest but turned away 18 of them to get the victory between the pipes. After this win, Pickard now has a .949 save percentage and a 1.91 Goals Against Average.
It was quite evident from the drop of the puck, that the Marlies were out to push the pace against a tired Syracuse Crunch team, and insulate a goalie who had been charting faceoffs the entire post season.
The offence started early, and continued late into the game. There was no shortage of firepower and the Marlies held the entire lead the entire distance.
Trevor Moore scored twice and continues to lead the AHL post season in scoring with 9 points in 8 games played (3 goals, 6 assists).
Carl Grundstrom continues to impress Marlies/Leafs fans with his play down low, picking up another goal from inside putting distance from the cage.
Travis Dermott, and Andreas Johnsson show why they are NHLers. Johnsson scored on a half clapper during his second breakaway in as many shifts. There are very few that can catch the speedy winger, and he knows how to score. Simply put, he is a NHLer and does not belong in the AHL.
Scoring aside, this was another team effort. Four lines being rolled, wave after wave of talent. Give this Toronto Marlies team enough opportunities they are going to kill you.
Today is a day off for the Blue and White from Toronto, to get some much needed rest.
Game #4 goes Tuesday evening in Syracuse.
Let us all pray for a sweep of the Series, and a better quality television feed.
Photo Creds: Toronto Marlies/Christian Bonin