TORONTO - David Ling continues to terrorize his old team.
Ling scored the game-winner on a power play with just 19 seconds left in the game to lift the Toronto Marlies to a 4-3 American Hockey League win over the Syracuse Crunch in front of 4,066 fans at the Ricoh Coliseum Wednesday night.
Ling, Syracuse's former captain, has scored five of his six goals this year against the Crunch.
"If it kept going this way I wish we could play them every day," said Ling, who spent parts of three seasons with the Crunch, most recently in 2003-04. "I don't know if it's coincidence or what. I don't feel like I play any different, but I think maybe they make more of a deal of it than I do; maybe they're overplaying me or something. I don't know".
The goal also snapped an 0-for-28 funk on the man advantage for the Marlies, who've beaten Syracuse all four times the teams have met this season.
Toronto coach Greg Gilbert was obviously happy to see his team earn the comeback win, but wasn't thrilled with some of the things that put the Marlies behind the eight ball to begin with.
"We weren't very sharp and we didn't play a good first 40," he said. "We were sloppy, making turnovers and trying to do things we haven't worked on. That's now how we execute our game.
"A team like Syracuse, they just come after you shift after shift. They capitalized on their opportunities and our mistakes and in the third we got back to playing the way we can play. We started getting more physical and finishing checks."
Darryl Boyce, Kris Newbury and Simon Gamanche also scored and Robbie Earl contributed two assists for Toronto (18-5-0-4). Clay Wilson, Andrew Murray and Derek Dorsett replied for the Crunch (13-16-1-1).
Joakim Lindstrom had two assists for the Crunch, but he undid his good work by taking a foolish unsportsmanlike penalty with just 1:15 left in the game to set the stage for Ling's winner.
Justin Pogge (8-1-4) stopped 24 shots for the win in the Marlies net, while Karl Goehring (1-3-0) turned back 32 in a losing cause.
Toronto trailed 3-2 entering the third period, but tied the game when Ling sprung Gamache for a breakaway midway through the frame. Gamache scooted in and fired a hard, low shot past Goehring to the far side for his third goal of the year.
After the first period ended 1-1, Syracuse seized a two-goal lead with tallies just 2:25 apart early in the middle frame.
First, Wilson (sixth goal of the year) walked in from the point on a power play, took a pass in the slot and got Pogge to bite on a quick deke before sliding the puck in the net.
Murray then made it 3-1 when he carried the puck out from the corner to the slot and wired a shot over Pogge's glove and just under the crossbar for his 11th of the campaign.
Newbury struck back for Toronto, making it a one-goal game entering the third when he drove to the net and swatted home a rebound from an Earl shot for his 10th goal of the season. The goal completed a strong play by the Marlies, which began with a nice pass from Derrick Walser to Earl in the slot. Earl's one-timer was stopped by Goehring's pad, but the goalie had no chance to thwart Newbury.
Ling said his team knew the game's direction was shifting at that point.
"You could feel it after we scored the second one, you could feel we were putting the pressure back on them," he said. "That's why they say two goals is the toughest lead in hockey. When we got the second one, no one had to say anything in the dressing room; as soon as that went in you could feel we were (going to at least tie it). That's not to sound cocky, but I guess that's what first-place teams have".
Syracuse opened the scoring in the first period when Dorsett tipped Adam Pineault's point shot past Pogge, who was bothered by traffic to his left on the lip of the crease.
Toronto squared the game 1-1 when Boyce banged home his sixth goal of the season. It appeared Goehring had ample time to smother a loose puck in the crease, but when the goalie failed to do so a persistent Boyce was able to jam the puck over the goaline".
The Marlies remain atop the North Division, while Syracuse sits in third.
NOTES: Toronto defenceman Todd Perry, 21, played his first AHL after playing 24 ECHL games with ColumbiaEarl is on a five-game points streak.