The North Division Final between the Toronto Marlies and the Albany Devils has been trimmed to a one-game showdown.
On Saturday afternoon the Marlies came up flat in a 4-1 defeat to Albany in Game Six. Toronto went 0-for-5 on the power play to stifle their chance to eliminate the Devils. Meanwhile Albany goaltender Scott Wedgewood stopped all but one of the 35 shots directed his way.
William Nylander was held pointless for the fourth time in eight playoff games, and Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe called on the 20-year-old Leafs prospect to find an extra gear.
“We need (Nylander) to be a lot more competitive, with and without the puck,” Keefe said. “Right now, his foot is off the gas quite a bit when we don’t have the puck and, as a result, we’re not getting it nearly enough when he’s out there. And he’s not able to use his strength.”
Antoine Bibeau took the loss in goal. The Marlies netminder had a rough outing, surrendering two Albany goals within the first five minutes, 13 seconds of the game. “They had more urgency in their game than we did,” Bibeau said. “I think that’s what made the difference.”
Matt Frattin was inserted into the Toronto lineup in place of the injured Nikita Soshnikov.
The Marlies’ only goal was scored by Kasperi Kapanen in the second period after the young Finnish player converted a centring pass from defenceman Stuart Percy, pinching behind the net.
Percy was one of the few bright spots for the Marlies in Saturday’s outing, played before a sellout crowd of 8,207 at Ricoh Coliseum.
“I think they won the neutral zone today,” Percy said of his opponents. “Our structure wasn’t as strong, and they came at us with a lot of speed. The hardest thing to do is to close out a team.”
Indeed Keefe concurs that the Devils – who gave up the fewest goals in the Eastern Conference in the regular season – will be formidable opponents in Monday night’s Game Seven for the chance to advance to the third round.
“To put a team like that away is not an easy task. It’s one thing to say it, it’s another thing to get on the ice and learn it and feel it,” Keefe said.