Home is supposed to be a place where good things happen.
For the Abbotsford Heat, in search of a bounce back win, home wasn’t quite as kind on Saturday night.
With Leland Irving back in the net for Abbotsford, the Toronto Marlies posted an excellent road effort, taking Game 3 by a score of 4-1 to jump out to a 2-1 series lead in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Game 4 will go Tuesday night, 7 PM PDT at the AESC.
The Heat didn’t make it easy on themselves early. Less than 60 seconds into the game, Nazim Kadri tucked a wrap-around past Irving, to put the Marlies up 1-0 on the game’s very first shot.
Irving admitted, “A little rusty to start,” and on the first goal, “unfortunately that first one, a wrap around is one I’ll stop 99 [times] out of 100.”
Constant puck pressure from the visitors led to a Clay Wilson turnover at neutral ice and the Marlies went up 2-0 on a Matt Frattin snap shot at 11:43. The Frattin tally was the result of a handful of defensive breakdowns that hurt the Heat in the first 20 minutes.
The home team had some push back however, and it was even evident right at the end of the first period. A scrum in front of Leland Irving led to an eruption of standard playoff pleasantries which set the tone for the second period.
In the middle frame it didn’t take long for the Heat to draw within one. After a high energy start, rookie Dustin Sylvester redirected a Clay Wilson point shot at 2:21. They then continued the good play, keeping the Marlies in their own zone for much of the first seven minutes. The same line that scored the Heat’s only goal was instrumental in this push, including Kolanos and Byron working well down low.
The energy spread down the bench, with solid follow-up shifts, including winger Guillaume Desbiens, “The frustration went away in the second, we channeled that into work and it worked out really good for us,” he said.
However, the Marlies would manage a push back of their own and re-establish the two goal lead at 12:30 with a marker from Philippe Dupuis.
According to Desbiens the third Marlie’s goal was a big blow, “That was kind of frustrating because we were dominating the whole period and they capitalized on that goal and that seemed to cut our legs a little bit,” he commented.
The Heat started the third period on the penalty kill after a Clay Wilson hook right at the end of the second. Depending on how you look at it, the Heat penalty kill was a positive take from Game 3, going six for six on the evening.
However, going down early on the scoresheet forced coach Troy Ward to make a lot of in game changes. “There’s a lot of tactic changes,” he said, “There’s a lot of punch and counter punch going on.”
On this occasion the coaching adjustments didn’t do the trick. Mueller iced the game for the Marlies by depositing a lovely pass from Dupuis behind Leland Irving with a little over five minutes to go in the game. The fourth Marlies goal also included Lasalle, Quebec native Nicolas Deschamps, who notched his third assist of the game.
The powerplay has to remain a point of concern for the Heat, now 0-for-16 in the series.
The post-game mood however was generally upbeat. “Tuesday will be a whole new day,” stated Troy Ward, “I don’t believe in momentum in the playoffs, it’s one day at a time.”
Putting that mantra to work, on this day, Ward wouldn’t name his starter for Tuesday.
The coach will look to rally his line up, “Playoffs are about unsung heroes, it’d be nice to find an unsung hero.”