The hits just kept coming for the Albany Devils. Unfortunately, so did the penalties.
On a night when two big checks by the Devils played a huge role in the game, the Toronto Marlies took full advantage of their frequent power plays to crush the Devils 7-2 and tie their best-of-seven AHL second-round playoff series at 2-2 Tuesday night before a crowd of 3,186 at Times Union Center.
Game 5 is Thursday night at the TUC.
“Clearly, our execution was on,” said Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe. “We started out a little tentative, but then we became cognizant of what the game means for us.”
The game was delayed for roughly 15 minutes with 8:40 left in the extremely physical second period when the Devils’ Ben Thomson’s hard check broke the glass in the visiting penalty box. New glass had to be put in the box, the broken glass had to be cleaned up, and then the ice was resurfaced.
Also in that crazy second period, veteran defenseman Dan Kelly made a crunching hit on Toronto’s Andreas Johnson, and a fight between Kelly and Zach Hyman ensued. Kelly was tagged for a major penalty for fighting, and the Marlies kept tacking on power-play goals. Kelly could be suspended for the next game.
“They [the Devils] were a little frustrated,” Keefe said. “Every game is so tight, but you can’t go over the line.”
Although the Devils had been doing a fine job killing their penalties throughout the playoffs, including stopping eight Marlies’ power plays Sunday night, such was not the case Tuesday, as the Devils were simply in the box too often. They allowed four power-play scores.
“We made a lot of dumb ones tonight,” Albany head coach Rick Kowalsky said. “I said Sunday we were playing with fire, and tonight we got burned. We’ve got to find a way not to take those penalties.”
Nakita Soshnikov scored a pair of goals for the Marlies to help them increase their lead to 6-1 early in the third period. The Devils inserted Yann Danis in goal to start the final period after Scott Wedgewood allowed five goals in the first two periods.
After Blake Pietila scored on a perfect feed from Matt Lorito just 2:10 into the game to give the Devils an early advantage, the Marlies bounced back with a pair of goals, setting the stage for a long series of extra-man scores.
The first was during a four-minute double-minor penalty by Damon Severson. Mark Arcobello scored from the lower-left faceoff circle to tie the score.
“I liked our start,” Kowalsky said. “We got to some pucks and made some good shots. But that four-minute penalty really seemed to get them going.”
With just a little more than a minute left in the period, Kasperi Kapanen put the Marlies in front 2-1 on another power-play goal.
The Marlies extended their lead to 3-1 with their third power-play goal of the game. Defenseman T.J. Brennan ripped in a goal at 1:05 of the period.
Toronto stretched its lead to 4-1 on a power-play goal by Brendan Leipsic, his first of the playoffs, early in the second period.
Soshnikov then scored the next two goals to give the Marlies plenty of breathing room. Connor Brown then scored his fourth goal of the playoffs to put the Marlies on top 7-1 before Graham Black scored in the final seconds for the Devils.
Toronto 2 3 2 — 7
Albany 1 0 1 — 2
First period-1, Albany, Pietila 3 (Lorito, Severson), 2:10. 2, Toronto, Arcobello 1 (Brown, Leivo), 13:17 (PP). 3, Toronto, Kapanen 1 (Hyman, Nylander), 18:48 (PP). Penalties-Loov Tor (tripping), 5:32; Severson Alb (double minor–high-sticking), 12:36; O’Neill Alb (tripping), 17:55.
Second period-4, Toronto, Brennan 5 (Arcobello, C. Carrick), 1:05 (PP). 5, Toronto, Leipsic 1 (Nylander, S. Carrick), 14:10 (PP). 6, Toronto, Soshnikov 2 (C. Carrick, Clune), 18:39. Penalties-Severson Alb (high-sticking), 0:42; B. Smith Tor (tripping), 6:33; Hyman Tor (instigating, fighting, misconduct–instigating), 9:33; Kelly Alb (fighting, match–check to the head), 9:33; Thomson Alb (roughing), 15:30; Arcobello Tor (tripping), 16:20; Leipsic Tor (roughing), 19:22.
Third period-7, Toronto, Soshnikov 3 (B. Smith), 1:36. 8, Toronto, Brown 4 (S. Carrick), 10:27. 9, Albany, Black 1 (Severson), 19:40. Penalties-Loov Tor (interference), 6:09; Leipsic Tor (diving/embellishment), 9:54; Blandisi Alb (interference), 9:54; Thomson Alb (unsportsmanlike conduct), 12:23; Soshnikov Tor (cross-checking), 13:30; Thomson Alb (unsportsmanlike conduct), 14:57.
Shots on goal-Toronto 10-7-9-26. Albany 9-7-10-26.
Power play opportunities-Toronto 4 / 9; Albany 0 / 6.
Goalies-Toronto, Bibeau 3-1-0 (26 shots-24 saves). Albany, Wedgewood 5-3-0 (17-12); Danis 0-0-0 (9 shots-7 saves).
Referees-Jake Brenk (42), Jon McIsaac (45). Linesmen-Ryan Daisy (90), Brandon Gawryletz (64).
CORRECTION: This story corrects the name of the Marlies' head coach.