The reigning Calder Cup Champion could not mount any consistent offensive pressure, had difficulties getting out of their own zone and were ineffective on special teams in a 5-1 loss to the Charlotte Checkers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final at Coca-Cola Coliseum on Tuesday and now trail two games to one in the best-of-seven series.
After scoring five unanswered goals to erase a 3-0 Toronto lead in Game 2 on Saturday, Charlotte continued where they left off, taking a first period lead on goals from Trevor Carrick and Tomas Jurco, extending the margin at the end of the middle frame on leading scorer Andrew Poturalski’s seventh goal of the season and in the third on tallies by Patrick Brown and Morgan Geekie before Mason Marchment broke Alex Nedeljkovic’s shutout bid late in regulation.
“I liked our push right from that start of the hockey game and then we get caught on that too many men on the ice penalty and we’re just not sharp and sorting out the line change. I thought that took away our momentum as did of course the first goal and then it’s just a tough game from there.” Marlies head coach Sheldon Keefe said after the game. “Special teams were an issue for us. (Charlotte’s) penalty kill made it real hard on our power play.
Our penalty kill, while it kept the puck out of the net, it spent a lot of time in our own end. Special teams were a problem and perhaps the biggest problem, it really ruined our rhythm. We had a lot of players sitting on the bench for long periods of time and other guys playing a lot of minutes in a short period of time.”
Nedeljkovic bounced back after allowing three goals on 12 shots and getting pulled in favor of veteran Dustin Tokarski on Saturday with a 33-save effort in Game 3, while Marlies goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo allowed three goals on 22 shots and was pulled in favor of veteran Michael Hutchinson to start the third.
Similar to the Checkers going back to Nedeljkovic, Keefe indicated that he will go back with Kaskisuo in Game 4 on Thursday.
“(Kasimir) has been playing a lot of hockey for us throughout the playoffs here and there's a lot of hockey coming here this week, so we just thought it was a good chance to give him a bit of a breather.”
New Leafs Convo. 🚨🚨
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