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Marlies 3, Phantoms 2: Yikes

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That’s a two game deficit, for those counting.

Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Well we were, uh, off to quite the start there. Inside the first minute of play, before we could really say that much of anything happened, we had a stoppage of play on an icing and Cole Bardreau was already trying to mix it up with some Marlies. Nothing really came out of it, but we certainly didn’t have to wait very long for an answer to the question of “are we still going to have some chippiness?” That’s going to be a resounding yes.

Things quieted down on the emotion front, from there, and the speed of play picked up as the Phantoms got back to work and looked to spark something in the offensive zone. They weren’t able to get anything out of that work, but they were stepping up. So that’s something.

But that initial pressure was negated when the Phantoms took a penalty and were left to kill it off (that sure sounds familiar, huh?). This time it was Greg Carey off to the box for a hook, and the Marlies were off to the power play.

The good news is this is about where the similarity to yesterday ended, as the Phantoms took their initial pressure and kept with it, and did not give up a power play goal. They escaped unscated.

And it’s Mark Friedman getting his revenge! After getting rocked in his own zone before the marlies power play, and after it expired, the phantoms took the rush the other way, and it was TJ Brennan with the feed to Friedman, who ripped it past Sparks on just their second shot of the game and the Phantoms had the lead.

And we’re not done! The Phantoms were rushing again and this time it was Sanheim bursting into the zone and weaving around defending Marlies like it was nothing, and it culminated in what was very nearly a good shot on goal… and then a call for goaltender interference…

We got very excited there for a moment, with what the Phantoms were doing at fives and how good they looked on the first penalty kill, but all that was to be short lived. It didn’t take long, but it was a shot from Trevor Moore from the perimeter on the power play that bounced around in front for a moment, then deflected in off Alex Lyon’s pad, and the Marlies had tied things up. Sigh.

But the Phantoms responded with force, moving back into Toronto’s zone with numbers. It saw a chance on the 3-on-2 that wouldn’t go, and then a series of subsequent chances in front as the Phantoms chipped away at it in the crease after a centering pass from Lindblom below the red line, but Sparks just wouldn’t be beaten. And the Marlies sent the puck in the other direction, for some similar chipping and a wraparound attempt for Lyon to defend, but he did it with ease. Tie game, still.

But, oh no, that may not last for too long. McDonald’s taken an interference penalty and the Marlies are on the power play again. After two initial clears at the start, the Marlies got set up in the zone and started cycling, and we just let out one sustained scream of terror for about a minute. The Marlies were cycling and generating very dangerous chances that just missed, or were just stopped. They escaped without a goal allowed, and closed out the kill with a counter-rush and a chance of their own.

And just like that, the period was coming to a close, and with one more chance for Lindblom in front, time expired, and we went off for our first break.

AFTER ONE: Phantoms 1, Marlies 1

And we’re back! Do we want to keep talking? It was all Marlies all the way, at least for the first few minutes, as they hemmed the Phantoms into their own zone and got to work. They escaped unscathed, but it wasn’t their strongest start.

But we weren’t without a nice response—Chris Conner grabbed control of the puck into the neutral zone and broke into the Marlies’ zone on the rush. He was looking for Lindblom coming down the middle, but couldn’t find the seam, and skated it past the net. But it set the tone, and the Phantoms were back at it, after a bit of struggle.

And now… what in the world is happening?! The Phantoms had control of the puck in the offensive zone and were trying to do something, and then we looked over and Travis Dermott was tied up with (or more like sitting on tip of him) Tyrell Goulbourne, who gave him a punch, but somehow play is still happening. There’s no penalty and they’re still tied up and the Marlies are starting a rush out of their own zone and put a shot on Lyon, before we finally got a whistle. But no answers. That was weird. Have a look at it for yourself.

And then the strangeness shifted to badness, as Carey took another hooking penalty, and sent the Marlies to the power play again. And by now we’ve seen a lot of the Marlies’ power play, so we can more or less predict where this is going. They kept up the speed on their cycle game, but the Phantoms did well to block their lanes and frustrate their attempts, but not quite well enough to steal the puck for a very good chance. But they did the thing and killed the penalty, so that’s good!

After a bit more run and gun left us wondering when we would get something else to happen, we got a bit of good news! The Phantoms had their first power play of the game on an interference call right off a faceoff! A chance to pull into the lead!

And…oh… that’s about the end of the good news. They had the chance but they couldn’t do anything with it. The Phantoms found themselves spending half of their time chased out of the zone, and then when they were finally able to move past the blue line, they weren’t able to connect well enough to generate a particularly high danger chance. And time expired.

Should we spend too long being upset about that? Maybe not, because another chance was coming. Grundstrom was called for a trip on Bardreau, and they were off to the power play again! Let’s try this again! It was a better look, with more pressure and crisper cross-ice passing, but still they were without the finish. Nothing they tried could get past Sparks.

The Marlies picked up one more chance as the penalty expired, or what would have been a chance, had it not been thwarted by what was apparently a trip by Myers. So he went off to the box and we had to endure another penalty kill.

Are you tired of talking about the penalty kill? I know I am. To be honest, this last penalty kill was more or less unremarkable. Go up a few paragraphs and revisit our description of the last one. The Marlies did just what they have been doing—generating some speed and pressure but falling just short of the finish, or having Lyon robbing them of it. The Phantoms killed another penalty, preserving the tie, and then riding the clock down to zero for the end of the second.

AFTER TWO: Phantoms 1, Marlies 1

The start of the third brought a whole lot of activity, oh my. A chance off the opening faceoff for the Marlies was stopped by Lyon and then sent the other way on an odd man rush, setting up a chance for the Phantoms that was just stopped. Speed is happening here, folks, and both teams are knocking on the door.

And, oh my, some more activity. Bardreau whiffed on his check and went into the Toronto bench, and he had some words for Dermott when he made it back onto the ice. No fighting to be had, but chippiness was back with force.

The Phantoms really started to take over from here, as they got set up in the zone and started just firing from everywhere. We saw close chances for Myers and Carey (this one so close it beat Sparks but deflected off the crossbar) but they just wouldn’t go. But that good work would be rewarded very soon after. After a few nice chances earlier on, and immediately after getting tangled up with the referee in the corner, Mikhail Vorobyev finally got his best chance and ran with it. It was so good, you guys. Take a look.

And this is great news! The Phantoms have the lead again! They might just tie up the series! They ca—what’s that? Grundstrom just scored on the rush? It’s been like 20 seconds, are you serious? Ugh, fine.

But the Phantoms weren’t going away quietly. Back in the offensive zone, they were controlling well, very well in fact. The Marlies couldn’t seem to hold onto the puck and the Phantoms ran with the chance, setting up Vorobyev again, but his shot was just stopped.

From here we hit a period of run and gun with a bit less to speak of, in terms of very dangerous chances on net. That speed we’ve been seeing was still flexed, but we saw a bit more of a defensive emphasis coming down, as chances were broken up, pucks stolen, before they could make their way to the net.

But did we want a bit more to speak of? Well we got it. The Phantoms were finally able to sustain some pressure in the offensive zone and start chipping away in front of Sparks but, if you’re picking up on the trend already, they couldn’t get anything past him.

And we were running and gunning again, and we had one more chance for Corban Knight, then a bit of shuffling of the puck around, and time expired.

That’s right. The game is deadlocked and we’re going to overtime. The last time this happened, there were five overtimes. I’m having horrible flashbacks. Someone please send help.

AFTER THREE: Phantoms 2, Marlies 2

Overtime it is! Here’s hoping it’s fewer than five overtime periods, but who knows. Life is weird and cruel and bad things happen to good people. At least it was an early start.

But the Phantoms came out with some very serious jump, with chances for Myers and Sanheim on their first shift. And just as we were lamenting how long this potentially could take, Mike Vecchione threw a shot in in front and it looks like he’s scored! The light’s on! Friedman’s celebrating! There is justice!

And it’s over! Right? No. NO. The officials are waving off the goal. I don’t know why. They thought they blew the whistle? Everybody’s conferencing but no one knows what’s happening.

Okay. So they conferenced for approximately four hours and they’ve ruled it no goal. Whatever.

So now we’ve picked up right where we left off—running and gunning. The Phantoms had a nice chance and then an odd man rush negated by an offside call that was definitely not offsides. The Marlies had a handful of close chances on their next shift, but Lyon positively robbed them. There’s a lot happening so let’s go to the quick hits and highlight reel.

Friedman carried the puck into the offensive zone with speed, then set up a feed that sailed right past Goulbourne’s stick and past the net.

The Marlies got it going the other way, but Myers broke up their rush, chased them right past Lyon. Dermott’s shot on Lyon was blocked by his own teammate.

Vorobyev and Martel collected and rushed it back the other way, and Dermott blocked their shot, and then the puck found its way back to Brennan, and Sparks positively robbed him. The crowd exploded.

Toronto made the next Big Rush, at the hands of Grundson, got the puck cross-ice, and then to Miro Aaltonen, who snuck it past a sprawling Lyon. Sigh.

FINAL: Marlies 3, Phantoms 2