The goals came early and often for the Marlies on Friday night.
Toronto (6-3) scored six in all, in a five-goal victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins (1-6), much to the delight of 3,478 in attendance at Ricoh Coliseum, many of whom were dressed up for Halloween.
Richard Panik led the way with four assists, and his line with William Nylander and Josh Leivo combined for nine points.
“We played good, we played good defensively and we went from there,” said Panik. “We made some offensive zone plays and we worked hard.”
The 24-year-old Slovakian forward got things started when he carried the puck down low and centred for Nylander who made no mistake scoring the first of his two goals on the night 1:46 into the game.
Some pretty passing by T.J. Brennan and Matt Frattin set up Ryan Rupert for his second of the season on the power play at 8:45.
The game stayed 2-0 for a while, and the Rapids had a huge opportunity to get back into it early in the second when given an extended five-on-three power play.
Griffins couldn’t convert, opening the door for Toronto to put the game away.
Leivo sent Nylander in all alone, and he beat Grand Rapids goaltender Jared Coreau to open up the game 11:49 into the second. Coreau, in for all six goals against made 28 saves in the loss.
Garret Sparks made 38 saves for Toronto, including three in tight on Jeff Hoggan.
— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) October 31, 2015
“He was huge, he stood on his head,” said Leivo, who finished with a goal and two assists and was a plus-four. “It was unfortunate that we didn’t get him the shutout, but I think he’s happy with the way he played and we are too.”
Grand Rapids was trailing 4-0 heading into the third, and 18 seconds into the period, were able to cut the lead to three when Andreas Athanasiou beat Sparks from the left circle. That was all the Griffins would get.
“That’s a good team over there, much better than their record shows,” said Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe after the game. “They’re getting unlucky today and we saw that first hand.
“The game could have gone a different way.”
Things turned ugly with only 1:15 left.
A scrum just inside the Griffins blue line escalated when Tyler Bertuzzi slew-footed Kasperi Kapanen to the ice. Bertuzzi received a match penalty on the play, and might be subject to further discipline from the league.
“Kapanen was a little shaken up on the play, I think he’s gonna be all right,” said Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe. “But it was no doubt an intent to injure there, you never like to see that.”
T.J. Brennan with his third, and Brendan Leipsic with his first were the other goal scorers for Toronto. Rinat Valiev picked up his first AHL point, assisting Leipsic’s goal with only 52 seconds left in the third.
Marlies now travel to Albany to play the Devils Sunday afternoon. Griffins are off until next Friday where they play the Rockford IceHogs at home.