(Matt Frattin scores timely pair, including game-winner)
May 21: Marlies 5 vs. Barons 3
Marlies lead best-of-seven Western Conference Final 2 games to 1
Marlies scorers: Dupuis (3), Hamilton (2), Frattin 2 (8), D’Amigo (7)
Barons scorers: Rodney (2), VandeVelde (5), Paajarvi (2)
Links: Box Score | Discussion boards

Forward lines:: D’Amigo-Dupuis-Scott, Deschamps-Kadri-Frattin, Hamilton-Zigomanis-Colborne, Rosehill-Acton-Abbott
Defence pairings: Fraser-Holzer, Gardiner-Lashoff, Gysbers-Mikus
Goaltenders: Scrivens (Win 59:31 minutes played, 25 saves, 3 GA), Rynnas (0:00)

Marlies coach Dallas Eakins though that Matt Frattin was off his game on Monday at Ricoh Coliseum.

If only we could all be so productive when we are not at our best.

Frattin was the game’s first star in recognition of his two-goal effort as Toronto defeated the Oklahoma City Barons 5-3 to take a two games to one lead in the Western Conference Final.

“That’s the danger of that young man,” said Eakins. “He can be off, but if you give him a little bit of space, he’s going to throw a couple of pucks in the net.”

Frattin’s pair of goals bumped his playoff total to eight markers, tying him with Alexandre Picard of the Norfolk Admirals for the AHL lead. The significance of both tallies on the afternoon was in the timeliness.

Late in the second period, the Marlies allowed a 2-0 lead slip away in a span of one minute and 19 seconds. The teams appeared to be headed for a stalemate going into the intermission when Frattin intercepted an errant pass from Barons forward Anton Lander to regain the upper hand for Toronto.

Oklahoma City knotted the score once again just past the midway mark of the third period, with Oilers prospect Magnus Paajarvi making it 3-3 on the power-play. As overtime loomed late in regulation, Frattin found himself in the slot and – using a Barons defenceman as a screen – fired his second goal of the game past goalie Yann Danis with just 2:02 remaining. Jerry D’Amigo would later cash in on an empty-netter.

The eventual game winning goal also gave Frattin a share of John Mitchell’s 2008 club record of 8 goals a playoff year. Mitchell – now competing for the NHL’s Eastern Conference championship for the New York Rangers – achieved the mark in eight more games than it took Frattin to reach the mark – 19 to 11.

Nevertheless, Frattin didn’t disagree with his coach’s assessment, adding that the stifling conditions at Ricoh Coliseum on a warm Victoria Day played a factor. “I felt tired, it was hot and I probably lost about 10 pounds of water weight today,” said Frattin. “I think – on the chances – I executed, but defensively I just didn’t have the legs.”

The Marlies also had contributions from Philippe Dupuis and Ryan Hamilton, plus a 25-save performance by goalie Ben Scrivens in the victory. The team overcame the loss of Nazem Kadri, who left the game in the first period after taking a hit from Oklahoma City’s Cameron Abney. “When (Kadri) disappeared from the bench it kind of screwed up my game plan a little bit,” said Eakins. “I was scrambling on the bench a little bit, but finally got it the way I wanted it.”

It was not known whether Kadri – whose injury is listed as upper-body – would be available for Game 4 on Wednesday.

Defenceman Matt Lashoff was inserted into the lineup in place of Jesse Blacker, and inherited Jake Gardiner as his blueline partner. The pairing complemented each other well, particularly on the power-play where they combined to assist on Hamilton’s goal. “I’ve really started to feel (more comfortable) coming back, so today was a huge step for me.” said Lashoff, who missed six months of the past season with a torn ACL and played just his second game of the playoffs.