Marlies take Game 3 with stunning late rally

Just when the Marlies appeared down and out, their season precariously close to disaster, the team stormed back with a miraculous comeback in Game 3 at Ricoh Coliseum on Tuesday.

Trailing the Syracuse Crunch 3-2 with less than two minutes to go, Toronto fired off three goals in a span of just 33 seconds for a 5-3 win. The Marlies trail two games to one in the best-of-seven North Division Final..

At 18:04 of the third period, Brendan Leipsic pounced on a rebound at the edge of the crease to knot the affair, sending the home fans into an uproar just as it appeared the Marlies were about to dig themselves into an insurmountable series deficit.

Just 18 seconds later, Carl Grundstrom, from a near identical spot on the ice – and in similar fashion – deposited a loose rebound past Crunch goalie Mike McKenna to give the Marlies the lead. Kasperi Kapanen put an exclamation point on the rally with a nifty backhand deke on a breakaway, at the 18:37 mark.

“Sometimes the goals just happen to come that way, and we’re not complaining,” Kapanen said. “We’ve got good character and we were really grinding there at the end. Everybody’s really happy with the outcome.”

The outing was a strong one for Andreas Johnsson, who scored twice to even the score in the second period after the Marlies had given up the game’s first two goals. Johnsson extended his goal streak to three games, and for good measure, engaged in fisticuffs with Syracuse’s Yanni Gorde in the final minute of regulation.

“I’m surprised to see a Swede fight,” chirped Kapanen – good-natured teammate and Scandinavian rival.

Coach Sheldon Keefe was more diplomatic in his assessment. “(Johnsson) continues to contribute for us, in all manners. Again, it shows his competitiveness. I would presume he’s never been in a fight in his life. He’s in the game, he’s a competitor, and a fun guy to watch,” the coach said.

Keefe was also quick to temper the excitement of the comeback, as fun as it was for the Marlies and their fans to witness.

“All we’ve done here is give ourselves a little bit of life, a little bit of breathing room. I’m sure from (Syracuse’s) perspective across the hall, they’d be happy with a split here, and a chance to go home and win it. So we haven’t really accomplished a lot.

We’ve got to take care of things tomorrow,” he said.