TORONTO — The San Antonio Rampage battled back twice, but a Jiri Tlusty goal with 6:30 left in the game provided the slimmest of margins, as the Toronto Marlies took Game 1 in the best-of-seven series, 4-3, Wednesday night at Ricoh Coliseum.
The teams got to know one another quickly. Rampage’s Steven Goertzen and Toronto’s Colin Murphy took out any pre-game jitters on each other with a skirmish off the opening draw, characterizing a physical and scoreless first period.
Early in the second, Al Montoya came up with a fantastic glove-save 1:17 on a shot that looked to already be past him.
Fifty seconds later, Toronto scored the first goal of the series with a rebound marker from center Kris Newbury. Center John Mitchell added another goal for Toronto less than two minutes later to quickly make it 2-0. The Marlies netted 90 goals in the second period during the regular season, third-most in the league.
David Spina got the Rampage right back in it with a power-play goal in his first Calder Cup playoff game. Toronto native Mike Zigomanis recorded an assist, stretching his point streak to six games dating back to the regular season, as did Enver Lisin. Spina’s goal was his third is as many games.
Matt Murley scored the franchise’s first short-handed playoff goal with 17.5 ticks left in the period to send the Rampage into the second intermission tied 2-all. Murley notched a goal in his fourth-straight contests, tying a Rampage season-high,
Zigomanis again set up the scoring play, winning the draw in the Marlies’ end and picking up his second assist of the night in the process. He has eight points (four goals, four assists) in his last six games.
Toronto took a 3-2 lead when Keith Yandle
’s stick snapped, leaving an opening for center Alex Foster to poke the puck through at 5:19 of the final period.
Brendan Bell, the former Marlie, fired in a top-shelf bullet from just above the right circle for the equalizer 11 minutes into the third.
The Rampage scored all three goals with the specialty teams, including two power-play tallies against the league’s best penalty-killing bunch in the regular season.
Tlusty tallied the difference off a Rampage turnover behind Montoya with 6:30 left.
Montoya came up with 24 saves in his first playoff game with Rampage. Scott Clemmensen earned the win for Toronto with 28 stops.
It was the first loss for the Rampage in Toronto, and the first loss all-time against the Marlies in regulation (4-1-0-2). Their three goals tied a franchise-high for playoff tallies. Toronto is in search of its first Calder Cup playoff series win, as are the Rampage. The Rampage outshot Toronto, 31-28, after attempting only four shots in the opening period. Spina’s tally was also the first power-play goal for the Rampage in the postseason.
The Rampage will go for the road-split in Game 2 at 6:30 p.m. Friday night at Ricoh Coliseum.