TORONTO - This was a win the Toronto Marlies would like to forget.
Joe Colborne scored the winner at 2:17 of overtime to give the Toronto Marlies a dramatic 4-3 win over the Rockford IceHogs in American Hockey League action Friday night at Ricoh Coliseum.
Colborne's game-winner came in front of packed house of 7,086 fans, who thought their club would cruise to an easy victory.
The Marlies blew a three-goal lead they carried late in the second period and nearly lost the game when Rockford pushed hard for the win on a late third-period penalty to defenceman Korbinian Holzer.
"We'll take the two points and that's about it," Colborne said. "We want to get rid of this game and try to forget about it as quickly as possible. It wasn't pretty. We can't be letting teams come back like that.
"It shows character that we ended up coming out on top. But that was ugly."
The winner came when Philippe Dupuis' shot was blocked by an IceHogs defenceman, but it bounced right in the slot to Colborne, who was looking to get puck anyway and banged it into the open net.
"I was expecting Dups (Dupuis) to feed me a pass back there, so I was kind of mad when he shot it," joked Colborne after the game. "We were all kind of pissed off how we let them back in the game. To get the two points was big because we thought we could’ve squandered one there."
The win gives Toronto points in seven straight games (6-0-1) and keeps the team in first place in the North Division, second in Western Conference, with 64 points.
But Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins was not pleased with his club's performance for most of the game.
"Tonight was a game that I wasn't happy from about the eight-minute mark of the first period to the end of the game," he said. "Early in the game, No. 1 we started off being physical and our puck management through the neutral zone was excellent...and we thought we’d have our way with these guys.
"We changed what we were doing and suddenly we were on our heels. And we could never get back to that point again. We lost our rhythm, we lost our confidence. That is not this team’s standard of play and it’s unacceptable."
Mueller opened the scoring for the Marlies (29-17-6) midway through the first period. The opening period has been Toronto's best all season, outscoring opponents 62-41 and posting a record of 16-4-1 when leading after one.
Toronto added a pair in the second from Hamilton and Frattin before Rockford started its comeback.
Morin got the IceHogs (21-25-6) on the scoreboard at 18:16 of the second period.
LeBlanc made it a one-goal game at 7:06 of the third and Morin tied it up with 6:10 left to play in regulation on his second of the game.
"It was definitely a huge win," said Hamilton, who scored his team-leading 19th goal with a short-handed goal in the second. "In saying that, we let them back into the game and they played really hard. We were really fortunate to get the 'W' in overtime.
"They did a great job battling back, but we're definitely happy we got the win…We got to find ways to win those close games."
"It's good to be back out there," Orr said. "But it's good to ease into it. You don't want to do too much too early.
"I'm just going work on being a good checking forward, good defensively, helping out the team and being a veteran and a leader as an older guy."
The Marlies are right back at it Saturday afternoon when they take on St. John’s at Ricoh.
"We're winning right now and we're trying to make a move on Oklahoma and make sure we solidify our spot high up in the standings for the playoffs," Colborne said. "But we're definitely going to have to pick it up against St. John's."