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Jiri Tlusty scores shootout winner as Toronto tops Rochester 4-3

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TORONTO - Some inside information from his head coach helped Jeremy Williams in a big way.

Williams scored twice in the shootout, setting the stage for Jiri Tlusty's game winner in the eighth round of the sudden-death format as the Toronto Marlies downed the Rochester Americans 4-3 on Sunday in the American Hockey League.

Williams benefited from some key info provided by coach Greg Gilbert, who coached Rochester goaltender Jeff Shantz when the two were both with the Ontario Hockey League's Mississauga IceDogs a couple of years ago.

"I talked to Gibby, he had him in junior and he gave me a little advice that he drops his glove," said Williams. "So I tried to make a fake early, make a little move and then get it up as quick as I can in the top corner.

"That's kind of my play."

Gilbert knew Williams would be an asset in the shootout, particularly against a goaltender the Marlies coach knew well.

"He's got a weapon and it's his shot, so you try to keep the guys focused on their strengths," said Gilbert. "He did a great job, he went down and used his weapon and he's deadly with it and it worked out twice."

Marlies goaltender Justin Pogge stopped five of eight Rochester shootout attempts to preserve the victory for Toronto (9-9-2) in front of 3,722 at the Ricoh Coliseum. The Marlies ended a two-game losing skid after dropping consecutive road games Friday and Saturday.

Rochester (3-17-2) watched a late lead slip away in regulation as it remained winless in 10 road games this season. Sunday's single point was the first the Americans have earned away from Rochester.

The Americans appeared destined to end their road struggles, holding a 3-2 lead late. Alex Foster tied the game with a shot past Shantz's glove with just over six minutes left in the game to force extra time.

Williams said his team's late-game heroics masked a subpar effort - especially early on.

"We came out extremely flat," he said. "We talked about it before the game, not underestimating this team. We've had success against them in the recent years because we've got pucks in behind their (defence) and we've worked them hard, not because we've out-skilled them.

"They've got a really good team and we thought we could come and walk all over them and that wasn't the case. We had to get our butts in gear in the second half."

Michal Repik had a goal and an assist for Rochester, while Jason Garrison and Janis Sprukts also scored.

Sprukts' goal came just over seven minutes into the second period after Marlies defenceman Richard Petiot made a terrible clearing pass that ended up on Sprukts' stick. That goal came just 17 seconds after Stefano Giliati had pulled Toronto even 2-2 with his first of the year.

The Marlies opened the scoring less than three minutes into the game, but ended the first period trailing 2-1.

Tlusty put Toronto on the board when he drove to the net and banged home the rebound from a Tim Stapleton shot while the Marlies were enjoying the power play.

Rochester answered back on a two-man advantage, when Garrison's point shot eluded Pogge. The Americans took the lead with the period's third power-play goal, as Repik got his stick on a point shot to re-direct it past Pogge.

The Marlies concluded an up-and-down November on a high note. They started the month with five straight losses, bounced back with four consecutive wins and were on the verge of three-game losing run before rallying against Rochester.

"It's consistency, again," Gilbert said. "When we're playing consistently, we win hockey games and when we think we can get away from what we do well, we end up on the short end of the stick."

Notes: Marlies centre Kris Newbury, the team's leading scorer, missed his second straight game following the passing of his grandmother. ... Marlies defenceman Jamie Sifers missed the game after he was called up to the Maple Leafs on Sunday morning. ... Rochester's Keaton Ellerby is cousins with NHLers Shane Doan of Phoenix and Montreal goalie Carey Price.

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