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Josh Leivo leads Toronto Marlies' special teams in 3-2 win over Abbotsford Heat

Sunday, 03.23.2014 / 6:25 PM / News

The Canadian Press

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Josh Leivo leads Toronto Marlies' special teams in 3-2 win over Abbotsford Heat

TORONTO - The Toronto Marlies beat the Abbotsford Heat by claiming victory in the special-teams battle.

Toronto right winger Josh Leivo scored the winning goal late in the third period during a five-minute power play to lift the Marlies over the visiting Heat 3-2 in American Hockey League action on Sunday afternoon.

"It's nice that our power play can put teams away when it gets a chance," said Marlies coach Steve Spott, whose team went 3-for-7 with the man advantage.

After Abbotsford centre Max Reinhart was handed a boarding major and game misconduct with less than five minutes remaining in the game, Leivo one-timed the puck from the left face-off circle past Heat goalie Joni Ortio at 17:34.

"We wanted to get the goal out of the way so we went hard for the whole five minutes," Leivo said. "But once we got the goal we knew we could play defensively and shut them down."

The game was a special-teams showdown with every goal coming on the power play, including a 5-on-3 tally for each team.

"It came down to special teams and it was nice that our power play was able to get the job done," Spott said. "We even scored a 5-on-3 goal, which has been rare for us this year."

Forwards Jerry D'Amigo and Carter Ashton also scored for the Marlies (38-20-5), who won for the fourth time in five games. Peter Holland chipped in with a pair of assists, including a nice set-up on Leivo's winner, in front of 4,992 fans at Ricoh Coliseum.

"It was good for our unit to get the goal for the win," Leivo said. "Holland made a great pass across, just a great play, and I was fortunate enough to bury it."

Defenceman Zachery Davies, with his first career AHL goal, and centre Corey Locke replied for the Heat (35-24-7).

"Give them credit, their top nine forwards are as good as anyone's in this league," Spott said. "Don't take anything away from Abbotsford, they're a very good hockey club and we had to be sharp to get away with two points."

Marlies goalie Garrett Sparks made 31 saves for the victory, while Ortio stopped 26 of 29 shots in a losing effort.

The game was tied 1-1 after the first period and 2-2 through 40 minutes.

D'Amigo opened the scoring with a 5-on-3 power-play goal early in the first period, finishing off a three-way passing play by firing the puck into the gaping net from the right side of the crease at 3:36. Davies tied it up for the Heat, with his first career AHL goal in his seventh game after playing the majority of his rookie pro season in the ECHL, when he scored on a goalmouth scramble during a power play at 10:12.

Locke gave the Heat a 2-1 lead when he scored on a 5-on-3 power play at 9:38 of the second period. Ashton tied it up with his 14th goal in 17 AHL games this season, one-timing a Peter Holland pass in the slot past Ortio for a power-play goal at 13:42.

"One of the keys for us was not losing our team identity," Spott said. "When you bring in talented players like Carter Ashton, Trevor Smith and Peter Holland, you can easily lose your identity, which for us is built on being a blue-collar team.

"The nice thing for us is the David Broll and Jamie Devanes played that hard-type game, and Andrew MacWilliam played an entire shift after losing a tooth. If we can keep our identity and sprinkle in some of that talent, we'll be a tough team to beat."

The Marlies host the Rochester Americans on Tuesday while the Heat visits the Utica Comets on Friday.

Quote of the Day

Obviously a lot happened in a short period of time. At the end of the day, considering everything I went through, I really felt close to my teammates and I really feel like what we accomplished, I know we didn't win it all. ... I'm really proud of how we got there and what we did once we got there.

— Rangers forward Martin St. Louis to Jim Cerny of BlueshirtsUnited.com