TORONTO– The Toronto Marlies were still able to clinch a playoff berth this weekend despite dropping back-to-back games in regulation for the first time since early February.
Drew MacIntyre made 23 saves on Friday as the Marlies were blanked 3-0 by the host Abbotsford Heat.
It was the third time this year the Marlies were shutout and the second time against Abbotsford.
Morgan Rielly, Mike Zigomanis and Tim Connolly had three shots apiece for Toronto, which still earned a playoff spot because of a Chicago Wolves loss the same night.
Danny Taylor turned away 25 shots for the shutout.
“The effort was definitely there,” Assistant Coach Gord Dineen told LeafsTV post game. “There were a couple key moments that they capitalized on their chances and we didn’t.”
In a rematch on Sunday, Brad Ross scored the lone goal as the Marlies fell to the Heat 3-1.
MacIntyre stopped 27-of-29 shots for Toronto, which ends the season 2-6-0 against Abbotsford, while Dylan Yeo picked up an assist on Ross’ goal.
“We had a lot of chances, but sometimes it goes like that so it’s good to get this out of the way before playoffs,” Ross said.
Prospect Tyler Biggs made his pro debut on Sunday and had four shots on goal.
Former Leaf draft pick Tyler Ruegsegger led all Heat scorers with a goal and two assists in the two-game series.
The Marlies are second in the Western Conference at 40-23-9, but the two losses drop them six points behind the Texas Stars, who have won their last two outings.
As the North Division leader, Toronto is currently guaranteed one of the top three spots in the Western Conference, however the Rochester Americans have quietly brought themselves within three points of the Marlies for top spot in the North. Toronto has one game in hand over Rochester and four games remaining in the regular season.
Toronto returns home Tuesday to host the Oklahoma City Barons.
Here are the Toronto Marlies hot and cold performers for the week of Apr 8th to Apr. 14th.
Season Stats: 36 GP 8 G 2 A 10 PTS
Ross scored the only goal of the weekend for the Marlies, giving him seven in his last 17 games after just one in his first 19. Showing signs of the same gritty play he possessed in junior, driving the net on most plays. His goal came shortly after serving a fighting major.
ECHL Playoff Stats: 2-1-0, 1.01 GAA, .955 SV%
Have to dig down to the ECHL for a positive this week worth noting, but Owuya put together back-to-back shutouts to advance the Reading Royals to the second round of the ECHL playoffs. Inconistent with the Marlies, the 22-year old stopped a combined 43 shots in his best outings of the season.
Marlies Special Teams
Season Stats: PP 20 overall, 58-358, 16.2% PK 13 overall, 250-300, 83.3%
The Marlies power play went 0 for 12 against the Heat and blew major chances to swing each game. Scoreless on Friday, the Marlies got the game’s first three power plays and did very little. Sunday, down 2-1 in the third, Toronto had three power-play chances to tie the game, but instead gave up a shorthanded goal 6-on-4 to end the game. Their penalty kill gave up two goals, including the winner, on Friday on just three chances.
Season Stats: 28 GP 5 G 7 A 12 PTS
Connolly has gone 18 games without a goal and six without a point. On Sunday he left the game and Assistant coach Derek King told LeafsTV that he may have re-aggravated an injury. The veteran has already lost six games because of a hip issue in March, but for now is day-to-day.
Look for the Toronto Marlies hot and cold performers every Monday.