Marlies Shutout by Monsters

Bacashihua, Monsters shut out Marlies 2-0; Toronto's playoff picture darkens

Canadian Press
April 2, 2011

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TORONTO - Costly penalties may have cost the Toronto Marlies their season.

On the strength of an power-play goal, the Lake Erie Monsters blanked the Marlies 2-0 in American Hockey League action Saturday evening.

At 13:37 of the first period, Ben Walter was able to jam the puck past Ben Scrivens during a goalmouth scramble after a shot bounced awkwardly off Scrivens' shoulder and landed between his legs.

That was essentially the game as there was no scoring by either team until David Van der Gulik added an empty-net goal with six seconds left to play.

``Their guy just crashed the crease and put it home,'' said Scrivens. ``And that's the game right there for us.... I'm looking back right now and thinking what I couldn't done differently on that one goal.

``When you win it's easy to shrug those ones off, but when you lose, especially when you lose in a close one, those small, seemingly insignificant plays you can play over and over.''

The Marlies Simon Gysbers had taken an unnecessary tripping penalty less than a minute earlier. Toronto gave up six power-play opportunities, many of them of the undisciplined variety, which stalled their offensive attack.

``We took some untimely penalties, some dumb penalties that we usually don't take,'' said Marlies coach Dallas Eakins. ``There were at least three instances when I thought we were really starting to go and taking over the game and then, bang, there's a penalty.

Jason Bacashihua stopped all 21 shots he faced to earn the shutout for the Monsters (41-27-8).

Scrivens made 23 saves for the Marlies (35-29-11) in front of 5,044 fans at Ricoh Coliseum.

It was Toronto's sixth shutout loss of the season. The team has now lost seven of its past eight games, and each of those losses have been by two goals or less.

``It's frustrating for all of us in here,'' said Scrivens. ``We just can't seem to get a break around the net. It just seems we can't find that lucky bounce we need to win these close games.

``It's not a lack of effort or a lack of trying. These guys are giving it everything they have.''

The Marlies came into the game four points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference with four games left in the regular season. Toronto could find itself up to six points out, depending on the rest of Saturday's games.

The Marlies are competing with the Grand Rapids Griffins and Abbotsford Heat in the North Division as well as four teams from the West Division for the final post-season berth. Under the AHL's new playoff format, teams from the West Division can cross over into the North to secure a playoff spot.

The Monsters can now clinch a playoff spot if Abbotsford loses to Grand Rapids on Saturday.

Toronto couldn't muster much offence without its two top scorers. Nazem Kadri is playing for the NHL's Maple Leafs and Mike Zigomanis is injured. On the season, the two had combined for 31 goals and 88 points.

``We're missing a few guys and Ziggy is a big guy for us,'' said Jake Gardiner. ``If you don't score a goal you're not going to win a game.''

``We needed to get more bodies in front of the net. The goalie was seeing the puck too easily.''

Toronto managed just 10 shots through two periods but more than doubled that total in third period as the team tried desperately to score the equalizer.

Tyler Brenner had Toronto's best chance to score when he picked off a pass in front of the Monsters' goal but was stymied by Bacashihua's glove hand.

``Frustrating'' was often repeated in the Marlies dressing room. Lake Erie has owned Toronto this season with a 6-1-0 record, and five of those six losses have been by two goals or less.

``All the games against these guys have been so close that they could've tipped one way or the other,'' said Eakins. ``They play a very boring style of hockey.

``They're comfortably with that style of game, and for one reason or another they've been able to come out on top of us in these close games.''

Notes: Scrivens started his 14th consecutive game in net ... The Marlies are first overall on the penalty kill ... Toronto has one last game against the Monsters next Wednesday in Lake Erie.

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