A combination of more sloppy play and a little bit of bad luck doomed the Albany Devils Thursday night.
The Toronto Marlies scored a pair of power-play goals and also got some help on another goal when the puck bounced off a referee’s skate en route to a 5-1 victory over the Devils in Game 5 of their AHL quarterfinal playoff series before a crowd of 2,872 at Times Union Center.
The Marlies took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series and head back to Toronto for a 3 p.m. matchup on Saturday.
“I thought there were a lot of battles down low, and we created some turnovers,” said Marlies left wing Josh Leivo. “We stuck to our game plan. We are going to keep playing our game when we go back to Toronto.”
Once again, the Devils spent far too much time in the penalty box, but head coach Rick Kowalsky didn’t think his team was overdoing it this time.
“No, it wasn’t more of the same,” he said. “There were some questionable calls. We’ve got to find a way to deal with it. We are without some very key players, but nobody is feeling sorry for us.”
The Devils played the game without veteran defenseman Dan Kelly, who was suspended 10 games for a hit he made on Andreas Johnson, sending him to the hospital Tuesday night. Several other Albany players missed the game because of injury, including Mike Sislo and Ben Thomson.
“We’ve got to be a little smarter with the puck,” Kowalsky said. “We had our opportunities, but we need to capitalize. We’ve got to get some guys to step up and make some plays.”
Kowalsky was asked about the pressure of having to win two games in Toronto in order to take the series.
“We’ve got to win the first game. That’s our focus,” he said.
After a scoreless opening period with both teams playing conservatively, Toronto took control with three goals in the second period, two on the power play.
Connor Carrick scored his fifth goal of the playoffs on the power play to give the Marlies a 1-0 lead just 1:23 into the second period.
Toronto extended its advantage to 2-0 on another man-up opportunity when Connor Brown connected at 6:38.
Nikita Soshnikov, who had two goals Tuesday night, tacked on another Marlies goal at 15:19 on a pretty pass from Richard Clune.
Paul Thompson finally got the Devils on the board at 17:01 of the second period when he flicked in the puck while falling to the ice.
The Marlies clinched the game with two more goals in the final period. Brendan Leipsic made it 4-1 when a Devils’ pass from Seth Helgeson deflected off a referee’s skate and onto his stick.
Leivo completed the scoring on an empty-net goal after the Devils pulled goalie Scott Wedgewood with four minutes left. It was his second goal of the playoffs.
“We can win there,” Wedgewood said about going to Toronto. “We will throw the kitchen sink at them. We will regroup and make some changes.”
Toronto 0 3 2 — 5
Albany 0 1 0 — 1
First Period — None. Penalties — McPherson, Alb (tripping), 4:29; Brown, Tor (hooking), 5:07; Loov, Tor (closing hand on puck), 11:51.
Second Period — 1, Toronto, C. Carrick 5 (Arcobello), 1:23 (pp). 2, Toronto, Brown 5 (Leivo, Arcobello), 6:38 (PP). 3, Toronto, Soshnikov 4 (Clune, B. Smith), 15:19. 4, Albany, Thompson 1 (Helgeson, Kujawinski), 17:01. Penalties — Blandisi, Alb (delay of game), 1:18; Severson, Alb (slashing), 5:32; Letourneau-Leblond, Alb (elbowing), 8:00; Brennan, Tor (interference), 10:45; Thompson, Alb (roughing), 10:45; Percy, Tor (interference), 18:49; Thompson, Alb (delay of game), 18:49.
Third Period — 5, Toronto, Leipsic 2 (Leivo), 11:09. 6, Toronto, Leivo 2 (Arcobello), 17:52 (en). Penalties — Thompson, Alb (interference), 13:30; C. Smith, Tor (slashing), 19:15; Gragnani, Alb, misconduct, 19:15.
Shots on goal–Toronto 6-9-8 — 23. Albany 6-7-9 — 22.
Power play opportunities — Toronto 2 of 5; Albany 0 of 3.
Goalies-Toronto, Bibeau 4-1-0 (22 shots-21 saves). Albany, Wedgewood 5-4-0 (22-18).
A — 2,872. T — 2:29.
Referees — Tom Chmielewski, Chris Schlenker. Linesmen — Francois Dussureault, Kory Nagy.
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