The Toronto Marlies got going early, and didn’t let up, beating the Charlotte Checkers 4-1 on Wednesday afternoon at Ricoh Coliseum.
The loss was Charlotte’s second in four days in Toronto, and pushed the Checkers’ road record to a league-worst 6-17-4 this season.
The Marlies put pressure on the Checkers right away. Rookie William Nylander opened the scoring just 2 minutes, 12 seconds into the game, somehow putting a loose puck in front through a pile of bodies and across the goal line. Ryan Rupert joined in shortly after, redirecting a floater from the point just enough to sneak it by goaltender John Muse for a 2-0 Marlies lead 5:58 into the game. Toronto never looked back, outshooting the Checkers 13-4 in the first 20 minutes.
The rest of the game was a different story, as the Checkers mounted an attack of their own. They outshot Toronto 27-10 over the final 40 minutes but could not find a way to solve netminder Christopher Gibson. Zach Boychuk broke up his shutout bid late in regulation and gave the Checkers a faint glimmer of hope, but Gibson shut them down and finished the night with 30 saves on 31 shots.
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The lack of firepower from Charlotte breaks up what had been the team’s most effective offensive stretch of the season. Before Wednesday’s game, the Checkers had scored at least three goals in each of their last four games, giving them a slight boost out of the league’s goals-per-game cellar. Wednesday, the Checkers’ hot hands went cold, as Brock McGinn saw his four-game goal streak snapped and Alex Aleardi was shut down. Chad LaRose, the team’s most consistent scorer this season, missed the game because of an injury sustained in practice.
Muse finished with 19 saves for Charlotte.
The Checkers will stay in Ontario to face Hamilton at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Marlies 4, Checkers 1
1st Period-1, Toronto, Nylander 3 (Brown, Rupert), 2:12. 2, Toronto, Rupert 10 (Marshall, Brown), 5:58. Penalties-Sutter Cha (holding), 4:47; Frattin Tor (hooking), 5:20; Sandlak Cha (unsportsmanlike conduct, fighting), 10:42; Biggs Tor (unsportsmanlike conduct, fighting), 10:42; Robertson Cha (double minor - high-sticking), 14:33; Cornell Cha (slashing), 18:09.
2nd Period-3, Toronto, Leivo 8 (McKegg), 15:12. Penalties-Biggs Tor (tripping), 7:13.
3rd Period-4, Charlotte, Boychuk 7 (Holmstrom, Shugg), 15:46 (PP). 5, Toronto, Brown 16 (Biggs), 19:09 (EN). Penalties-Frattin Tor (hooking), 0:11; Marshall Tor (double minor - high-sticking), 8:22; Percy Tor (delay of game), 13:48; Holmstrom Cha (unsportsmanlike conduct, misconduct - unsportsmanlike conduct), 19:09; Biega Cha (roughing), 19:58; Devane Tor (roughing, roughing), 19:58; Cornell Cha (misconduct - unsportsmanlike conduct), 20:00; Bodie Tor (misconduct - unsportsmanlike conduct), 20:00.
Shots on Goal-Charlotte 4-12-15-31. Toronto 13-4-6-23.
Power Play Opportunities-Charlotte 1 / 7; Toronto 0 / 5.
Goalies-Charlotte, Muse 6-10-0 (22 shots-19 saves). Toronto, Gibson 13-12-0 (31 shots-30 saves).
A-7,851 Referees-Pierre Lambert (39), Alex Garon (64). Linesmen-Jordan Browne (67), Mike Hamilton (60).