After opening the 2020-21 season at home against the Toronto Marlies Monday evening with a close 3-2 loss, the two teams regrouped for the second of four-straight games at Bell MTS Place on Tuesday.
This game, however, was not as close. It saw seven different goal scorers, with each player picking up his first marker of the season.
Much like that of Monday’s contest, the home team led after 20 minutes of play, only to give up that lead later in the game. And unfortunately for the Moose, it wasn’t just a one-goal differential this time, but rather four. Ultimately falling 6-2 to their Canadian Division rival, the 0-2-2 Moose will need to regroup quickly in order to be ready for games three and four of the series set for Thursday and Friday in Winnipeg.
“We kind of stepped back in the second period at that 10-minute mark and Toronto kind of picked up their game,” Kristian Reichel said post-game. “We didn’t handle that pretty much and I think overall we played for 40 minutes today, but we need to play 60 and that’s the problem. We didn’t play three periods today. And not the result we wanted. We lost the game.”
Thanks to a strong forecheck the Moose held a significant advantage in puck control and possession in the opening frame. Despite many glorious opportunities off turnovers the home team was stymied by Marlies’ netminder Andrew D’Agostini upon many occasion. Leading 9-6 on the shot chart and 2-1 on the scoreboard through 20 minutes, the Jets looked ready to capitalize on some unfinished business from Monday’s season-opening loss.
Scoring just 4:25 in, Reichel gave Manitoba an early lead off a bit of a pinball play. In picking up a puck off a defensive zone turnover, Reichel’s shot didn’t make it past the netminder, rather CJ Suess collected his rebound, but was also stopped, before Reichel finally put the bobbling puck into the yawning cage for his first tally of the season.
“It’s always good when you get the first one as quick as possible,” Reichel added. “For me especially, because I had a couple more chances last night and I didn’t bury that. So it really helps my confidence for the next games.”
That early lead only lasted 4:30, as Marlies’ blueliner Calle Rosen put a perfectly-placed point shot through a screen Mikhail Berdin at the 8:55 mark of the period. Finding its way through to the net, Rosen’s wrist shot knotted the game up at ones.
But again, that score didn’t last long. Just 39 seconds after Toronto’s goal, the Moose’s top line of the period teamed up for a pretty tally. With Bobby Lynch starting the play on a great effort through the offensive zone, he found Tyler Graovac while laying on the ice on a delayed penalty. Graovac’s rebound came to Nathan Todd who became the third player of the game to score his first goal of the season.
“I saw Graves and thought he was going to shoot it, and he went for the rebound but he fanned on it I guess and it was right place and right time and I was able to bang it in,” Todd said of his goal.
The second period saw little go right for the home team, as Toronto scored early and often.
Just 3:01 into the frame, Joey Anderson walked out from the corner of the Marlies offensive zone and put a hefty shot on goal. Kenny Agostino calmly batted the rebound past Berdin, tying the game at twos. 42 seconds later, Nick Robertson capitalized on a Ville Heinola turnover and ripped a low shot into the Moose net, giving Toronto its first lead of the game.
Things went from bad to worse for the Moose as a long-range Calle Rosen point shot hit the end boards and ricocheted back towards Berdin, before hitting the Moose netminder and dropping into the net behind, extending Toronto’s lead to two goals.
Late in the period, Robertson collected another point, picking up the primary assist on a Kristians Rubins point shot that beat Berdin cleanly. The Marlies could have easily added another one, as the team rang a shot square off the post in the final 30 seconds of the period. The visitors outshot Manitoba 15-10 in the frame, leading 5-2 through 40 minutes.
The third period saw the game’s first minor penalty, as Jimmy Oligny – who had earlier fought veteran enforcer Rich Clune – was given a crosschecking penalty in his own zone. It took the Marlies 57 seconds to capitalize on the opportunity. Off a Timothy Liljegen one-timer, Winnipeg product Adam Brooks calmly collected the rebound and tucked it into the yawning cage, sealing the deal on a 6-2 Toronto victory.
“We just had a couple lapses and lost our game for six or seven minutes there and they capitalized,” Todd said. “That’s basically what it came down to.”
It was nothing near a memorable performance in the crease for Berdin, who finished the night with 28 saves on 34 Toronto shots. D’Agastino turned aside 26 of Manitoba’s 28 shots in the game. The teams will get back at it from Bell MTS Place on Thursday at 6:00 PM central, before renewing acquaintances a fourth time on Friday at 4:00 PM.