The Toronto Marlies dropped a 2-1 decision to the Belleville Senators in Boxing Day afternoon action at Air Canada Centre.
Toronto outshot the visitors by more than a two-to-one margin, 33-15, but Senators goalie Andrew Hammond was full measure for his efforts in being named the game’s first star. At the other end of the ice, Calvin Pickard was the losing netminder.
In the first period, Marlies defenceman Andrew Nielsen opened the scoring with a blast from the point on a power play. The goal was set up by Kasperi Kapanen (pictured), who had been loaned to the AHL by the Leafs earlier in the day. For Nielsen, it was his first goal of the season, coming in his 27th game played.
Belleville equaled the score on a power play of their own. After Colin White unleashed a shot from just inside the blue line, the puck was deflected by Ethan Werek at the edge of the crease past Pickard for his seventh marker of the year.
The second frame was scoreless. In the third period, the eventual game-winner was scored when the Marlies defenders got caught watching the play. No one picked up Francis Perron in front of the Toronto goal, and the Belleville player one-timed a centring pass from Tyler Randell to put his team in front.
With Pickard on the bench for an extra attacker, the Marlies missed a glorious chance to even the affair when Kapanen received a pass in the slot and released a shot through traffic with just over two seconds remaining in regulation. But Hammond shut the door, smothering the puck without a rebound to preserve the victory for the Senators.
“I thought we played okay. We obviously had the puck a lot today and we generated a lot of shots,” coach Sheldon Keefe said to the media. “t wasn’t a great hockey game in general but they made good on a couple of their chances and we didn’t and that’s the difference.”