TORONTO - The Rochester Americans' defence only needed to make sure their goaltender could see Toronto's shots ? David Leggio could handle the rest.
Leggio made 37 saves to lead the visiting Rochester Americans over the Toronto Marlies 2-1 in American Hockey League action on Saturday.
"The most important thing is when I get shots that I'm able to see them," Leggio said. "The 'D' did a great job of boxing out and clearing rebounds. When we play like that as a team, it makes it easier for me and that was a big reason for us winning."
Forwards Zack Kassian and Derek Whitmore provided the offence for Rochester with a pair of first-period goals in front of an announced crowd of 7,133 at Ricoh Coliseum. With the victory, the Americans improved to 19-17-8 and closed the gap on the North Division-leading Marlies.
"It was a really hard-fought game," Whitmore said. "(Toronto's) a great team, there's a reason they're leading the division, they're really well-coached and well-structured. It was like a playoff game out there."
Leggio was especially sharp in the third period, going post-to-post to thwart Nicolas Deschamps and standing tall during a late Marlies power play. The Rochester goalie also denied Toronto winger Matt Frattin on a second-period breakaway.
"They had that one pass across on the 2-on-1 (to Deschamps) and when I made that save, I felt good about it," Leggio said.
"And when they got that late power play, we just said we need to kill this. The guys stuck to our system, blocked shots and we were able to shut them down. They've got a lot of firepower, but we didn't dwell on it, we had the confidence that we were going to kill it and we did."
Mike Zigomanis provided the lone goal for Toronto, as the Marlies dropped their second consecutive game to fall to 23-17-5 on the season.
Toronto goalie Ben Scrivens made 25 saves. The Marlies goalie looked shaky on the two shots that beat him in the opening frame, but settled down after that.
"We've been playing from behind for a while, I can't remember the last time we scored the first goal," Leggio said. "We've been putting ourselves in a hole in the last several games and we really wanted to come out and establish the lead early."
Kassian gave Rochester a 1-0 edge when he entered the Marlies' zone with speed and fired a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle past Scrivens at 6:03 of the first period. Whitmore made it 2-0 when he stepped over the Toronto blueline and sent a bouncing puck in on Scrivens that eluded the Marlies goalie at 17:01.
"It's a crazy game sometimes, but if you're not shooting pucks you're not going to score goals," Whitmore said. "I don't even know what happened on that one, I saw one of my linemates going to the net and I just threw it on net and the next thing you know, we're celebrating. I didn't even see it go in.
"It was what I would call a muffin."
Zigomanis got the Marlies back in it during a goal-mouth scramble late in the first period, whacking a rebound out of mid-air past Leggio at 19:26. After that, however, Leggio shut the door and got plenty of defensive support from his teammates.
Rochester was 0-for-2 on the power play while Toronto went 0-for-1.
The Marlies are off until next Friday, when they visit the Syracuse Crunch. Meanwhile, the AHL Skills Competition is on Sunday and the league's all-star game is Monday in Atlantic City, N.J.
Toronto captain Ryan Hamilton will represent the Marlies at the AHL's midseason classic.