Special teams can make or break most teams.
For the host Rochester Americans (3-1-1) it made all the difference, as the team scored three goals on special teams, with two on the power play and a short-handed marker, in a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Marlies (2-2), Friday night.
Jeff Taffe had two goals and Jason Garrison had a goal and two helpers for the Americans. Alexander Salak made 30 stops for the win.
In his first start of the year, Andrew Engelage made nine saves on 14 shots and was replaced by Adam Munro between the pipes to start the third period.
The Marlies played their first road contest this season and were led by Robert Slaney with two assists, his first AHL points.
One of the few bright spots for the Marlies was Christian Hanson’s first AHL goal at 6:18 of the third and Munro stopping all 10 shots he faced.
Things really started to go downhill for the Marlies early in the second period when Mike York forced a turnover and then centered to Taffe for his third of the season, as he put the puck over Engelage’s blocker.
Just 2:53 later, Michal Repik came from behind the net and beat Engelage short side for a 3-0 lead and another 36 seconds after that, Garrison scored from the point on the power play to put Rochester up 4-0, seven minutes into the second period.
The Marlies managed to get a goal back as Brennan Evans fired a shot from just inside the blueline beating Salak for his first of the season and Toronto’s first of the evening.
Rochester restored its four-goal lead before the end of the period when Taffe and York hooked up again in a fashion very similar to their earlier connection. The goal took place with a delayed penalty coming to Toronto.
The trouble all started for the Marlies late in the first period with their first power play of the game, as the Americans scored the opening goal short-handed.
Garrison broke up a Toronto passing play before forwarding the puck to Repik going up ice on a two-on-one with David Brine, who finished up the play with his second tally of the season.
Round two of the Marlies and Americans home-and-away takes place Saturday in Toronto.