TORONTO - The Rockford IceHogs erupted for four unanswered goals in the second period en route to a 5-3 victory over the host Toronto Marlies in American Hockey League action on Sunday night.
After a listless opening frame for the visitors, Rockford's Daryl Boyle, Rob Klinkhammer, Bryan Ewing and Jake Dowell scored to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 5-2 advantage. Akim Aliu also tallied for the IceHogs, who won their second consecutive game to improve to 2-1-1 on the season.
"We had a good first period," said Marlies captain Ben Ondrus, "but then we probably took them for granted and we paid for it. They had a couple shots go in and we couldn't rebound from it."
Jiri Tlusty, with a pair of goals, and Jonas Frogren provided the offence for the Marlies in front of 1,202 fans at Ricoh Coliseum. The loss was Toronto's (2-1-0) first of 2009-10 after opening with a pair of victories.
"That's what he has to do at this level," said Marlies coach Dallas Eakins of Tlusty, who has three goals in his past two games. "He has to score and he knows it."
IceHogs goalie Joe Fallon stopped 27 of 30 shots for the victory. At the other end, the Marlies' James Reimer made 22 saves.
"Fallon made some big saves for them, and I didn't make the saves when the team needed me to," Reimer said. "This one (loss) falls on my shoulders.
"It was just one of those nights where the puck wasn't hitting me."
Toronto led 2-1 after the period - a frame in which the Marlies outshot Rockford 11-2 - but the IceHogs took over in the second period and didn't look back.
"We were up 2-1 with a power play to start the second, and I think our guys got a little overconfident against a team that was playing its third game in three days," Eakins said. "And this is a tough league to play in, no team is going to go away lightly."
Aliu opened the scoring at 4:20 of the first period when he blazed down the right wing and wristed a shot over Reimer's blocker and into the top left corner. Frogren tied the game at 1-1 when he snuck in from the right point and wired a shot past Fallon at 13:26 and Tlusty gave the Marlies a 2-1 edge when he scored a power play goal at 16:46 of the opening frame.
Then it was the IceHogs' turn.
Rockford tied the game at 2-2 when Boyle cruised over the blue-line on a harmless-looking 1-on-1 rush and snapped a low wrist shot past Reimer's blocker at 2:52. Just 89 seconds later - and shortly after Marlies coach Dallas Eakins had called a timeout - Klinkhammer gave Rockford a 3-2 edge on a goalmouth scramble.
Ewing was next at 11:57, during a 5-on-3 Rockford advantage, as the IceHogs right winger collected a rebound behind the net and banked the puck in off of Reimer, who was trying to sprawl across the crease. Dowell made it 5-2 for the visitors, while shorthanded, when he won a race to the loose puck and broke in alone on Reimer, beating the Marlies goalie with a deke at 15:36.
"James (Reimer) would probably like a couple of those goals back, but I'm not faulting him for the loss," Eakins said. "Like the rest of the team, he was a little slow with his reaction time."
Tlusty capped the scoring when he converted a breakaway, beating Fallon with a quick deke, at 14:18 of the third period.
Toronto was 1-for-8 on the power play, while Rockford went 1-for-6 with the man advantage.
The Marlies are off until Friday, when they travel to Rochester to kick off a home-and-home series against the Americans.