TORONTO - Bates Battaglia sent the Toronto Marlies to the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs for the first time ever, and he didn't even see it happen.
Battaglia scored in the final minute of the third period and goalie Scott Clemmensen made 33 saves to lead the Toronto Marlies past the San Antonio Rampage 2-1 in Game 7 of the first-round American Hockey League playoff series on Monday night.
Battaglia scored at 19:01 of the final frame when his seeing-eye wrist shot from the blue-line eluded San Antonio goalie Josh Tordjman, giving Toronto its first-ever AHL playoff series win.
"Honestly, I didn't even see it go in," said Battaglia, who was at the end of a shift when he fired the low, harmless-looking shot from the right point. "I threw it on net and I saw one of my wingers put his arms up, otherwise I didn't know. I was just trying to get it there and see what it happens."
Kris Newbury, with a power-play goal midway through the second period, also scored for Toronto in front of 1,982 fans at Ricoh Coliseum.
Enver Lisin had the lone goal for the Rampage, on the man advantage at 6:51 of the third period.
Aside from the winning goal, both netminders were sharp throughout the game. After a cautious first period, the action - and scoring chances - picked up in the final 40 minutes.
Clemmensen made several tough stops in the second and third periods, while Tordjman, who shut out Toronto 3-0 in Game 6, kept the Rampage in it with 31 stops, including a number of key saves.
"No question, (Clemmensen) came up huge and made some real big saves for us," said Marlies coach Greg Gilbert. "He had the glove in the right spots so I guess he was in the zone and hopefully he's in the zone for a while longer."
The Marlies' first-ever AHL playoff series win came in the first Game 7 for either team. Toronto advances to play the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL quarter-finals. Syracuse advanced with a 3-2 overtime win over Manitoba on Monday. Game 1 is Friday at Ricoh Coliseum.
"It was a heck of a series, all the games were close," said Gilbert after his team prevailed in the fifth one-goal game of the match-up.
Said Rampage coach Greg Ireland: "Josh (Tordjman) had a great series to the end. I just talked to him and told him he finished the season the way he started it. He was the backbone for us and he was a strength for us.
"Both goaltenders battled hard. Bates' goalyou know, throw pucks at the net and sometimes things happen."
Toronto was 1-for-3 on the power play, while San Antonio went 1-for-6 with the man advantage.
The game was tied 0-0 after the first period the two teams traded goalposts early in the opening frame and Toronto led 1-0 through 40 minutes.
Newbury deflected Derrick Walser's slapshot from the point midway through the second period to draw first blood in a goaltending duel between Clemmensen and Tordjman.
Newbury, though, was in the penalty box for interference when Lisin blasted a point shot past a screened Clemmensen early in the third period to notch the game at 1-1.
The game appeared destined for overtime until Battaglia's harmless-looking shot slipped past a partially screened Tordjman, to the delight of the Marlies fans.
"That's exactly how it happens, overtime goals and stuff like that, usually it's not a pretty goalknocking around off someone's head or whatever.," Battaglia said. "It's not a surprise, but it's definitely something we're pumped about."