TORONTO - The skill of two Russian teenagers helped lead the Syracuse Crunch to a victory over the Toronto Marlies.
Nikita Filatov and Maksim Mayorov each scored breakaway goals late in the first period to propel the Crunch to a 4-1 win over the Marlies in AHL action Saturday night in front of 3,233 fans at the Ricoh Coliseum.
Mayorov added an assist on a goal by John Vigilante in the second, as Syracuse pulled even with the Marlies for the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division with 53 points.
Tim Stapleton, the Marlies' leading scorer, added a power-play goal early in the third period, but Toronto was unable to sustain any momentum in its comeback bid.
Derek MacKenzie salted away the win for Syracuse with an empty-netter.
The Marlies, who hadn't played since Jan. 31, definitely appeared rusty at times in the game. And while Toronto outshot Syracuse 43-15, two of the goals that beat goalie Adam Munro were the result of sloppy play or poor coverage.
The first frame appeared destined to finish scoreless until the Crunch (24-21-5) struck for two goals in 10 seconds with less than two minutes to play in the period, beginning with Filatov's beauty.
The 18-year-old, flashing the kind of skill that made him the sixth overall pick in last June's NHL draft, was sent streaking in on a breakaway and wired a shot over Munro's glove hand to the top shelf. The Marlies (23-19-7) won the ensuing faceoff at centre ice, but bobbled the puck just outside their own blue-line. That was all the daylight 19-year-old Mayorov needed to strike as he hopped on the loose puck, went in alone and slid the puck between Munro's legs with a shifty deke to his backhand.
Vigilante made it a three-goal Syracuse lead less than four minutes into the second when he was left alone in the slot to convert a pass from behind the goal-line. Filatov actually got another breakaway later in the period, but Munro was able to kick out his right pad and make nice save on the slick youngster.
Toronto had a glorious chance to pull back into the game when it received a 5-on-3 power play for 30 seconds. However, the home side produced very little in the way of quality chances, letting a prime opportunity slip away.
The Marlies finally got on the board when Stapleton's seeing-eye shot from the point rolled into the right side of the goal past Crunch goalie Sebastian Dahm.
NOTES: Kris Newbury, the Marlies' second-leading scorer, missed the game with an unspecified injury. ... The Marlies have now played four games on an extended 12-game homestand, which features two more tilts with the Crunch. ... Marlies defenceman Anton Stralman went pointless in his first game since being sent down from the Maple Leafs earlier this week.