TORONTO - The Toronto Marlies got the shots, but the Lake Erie Monsters got the goals.
The Marlies fired 35 pucks at Lake Erie goalie Tyler Weinman, but still came away with a 3-0 loss Saturday afternoon in AHL action.
The loss snapped a modest two-game winning streak by Toronto (4-4-0), as the Cleveland-based Monsters (4-5-1) put the brakes on a four-game losing skid.
Marlies coach Greg Gilbert felt his team not only generated shots, but also quality chances. Weinman, who picked up his first shutout of the year, simply had the answers.
"I thought we had quite a few quality chances to be quite honest with you," Gilbert said. "We had a lot of point-blank chances, we had some things on the power play and side-to-side things he got across on.
"That's what happens. You come up against a hot goalie, everything bounces for him and they capitalized on their chances and we didn't."
The Marlies also suffered from a popgun power play that went 0-for-8, while Lake Erie played an opportunistic game, beating Toronto goalie Justin Pogge three times on just 14 shots front of 1,587 fans at the Ricoh Coliseum.
Lake Erie's penalty-killing prowess certainly came as a surprise given Toronto had the third-best man-advantage unit in the league coming into the game.
Toronto captain Ben Ondrus felt his team could easily have racked up a power-play marker or two.
"We had lots of chances on the power play in the second that we didn't capitalize on, and they got some timely goals that proved to be the difference in the game," he said.
While Weinman certainly did his part, Gilbert thought Toronto could have executed better on its opportunities.
"It's matter of, we can teach them how to create the chances, but we can't be out there shooting for them," he said. "It's just a matter of bearing down that last second or two when you have that chance and putting it home."
After Aaron MacKenzie and Chris Durno had scored in the first two periods, speedy T.J. Hensick tallied Lake Erie's final goal 26 seconds into the third when he charged in on a breakaway and bested Pogge (3-4-1) with a good low shot.
That marked the fourth consecutive game Hensick has found the net.
Following MacKenzie's goal in the first, Durno made it a two-goal Lake Erie lead when he drove the goal and tipped a centring pass by Pogge. It was the Monsters' first shot of the second period and it didn't come until almost 15 minutes into the frame.
Even though Pogge had allowed two goals on just five shots, Gilbert had no problem with Pogge's play.
"He made some good saves, one quick tip between his legs and the first one, we put it right up the gut and the guy one-times it, so what do you do?" he said.
The Marlies outshot Lake Erie 15-4 in the first period, but the Monsters got the only goal of the frame when MacKenzie took advantage of a bad clearing attempt and snapped a hard shot past Pogge over the glove.
Toronto had four power-play opportunities in the opening period, but couldn't cash in on any of them. Brent Aubin had a great chance on a one-timer at the side of the goal, but Weinman (2-2-0) slid over quickly and denied him with a great pad save.
Andre Deveaux, Toronto's leading goal-scorer, fought twice in the game, both times after he delivered good, clean bodychecks. Gilbert thought both Jesse Boulerice and Chris Stewart, the two Monsters Deveaux battled, should have been called for instigating penalties.
"There's two opportunities right there for the officiating to call instigators," Gilbert said. "Obviously Boulerice went right to him, the second one (Stewart) goes right over, distance traveled, comes off the bench (while the play continues), and no instigator call again. That's part of the game that has to be cleaned up. If they're going to have the rule, call them."
NOTES : Lake Erie head coach Joe Sacco and assistant Sylvain Lefebvre are both former Toronto Maple Leafs The Marlies complete a stretch of three games in three days when they host provincial rival Hamilton Sunday afternoon.