TORONTO - The Toronto Marlies recorded their first win of the 2008-09 season Saturday night, 4-1 over the visiting Hartford Wolf Pack on the strength of Kris Newbury's three point night.
Newbury scored his first two goals of the season and added an assist. Staffan Kronwall scored a goal and assisted on another, while netminder Justin Pogge stopped 29 shots for the victory in front of 1,753 at Ricoh Coliseum.
"I'll try to work on the breakaways next week in practice," said Newbury, who could have doubled his production if not for fumbling a couple of breakaways. "I might have too many thoughts in my head as I'm going down the ice. I have to try to keep it simple."
"It was good to see Newbs (Newbury) get some points," said Marlies coach, Greg Gilbert. "He wasn't getting the opportunities early this season and he had one earlier and missed that surely lit a fire under him. He's a hard working kid and it's good to see him have some success."
A veteran on the Marlies team, Newbury calls himself a "quiet" leader.
"I'm more of a guy that's quiet but goes out there and plays hard," said the Marlies all-time leading goal scorer and points producer. "Hopefully the younger guys catch on. I'm pretty quiet in the room. Just a guy that goes out there and does what he has to do, and tries to get a win every night."
Hartford goaltender Matt Zabba kicked away 17 of 20 shots in his first appearance of the season. The loss was the second consecutive for the Wolf Pack, who were shut out 2-0 by the Hamilton Bulldogs on Friday.
Toronto scored once on the power play, going 1-for-3, while Hartford was 0-for-5 with the man advantage.
"We'd been struggling on the power play this season," said Kronwall. "We did a better job tonight."
The Marlies opened the scoring just before the one-minute mark, when blueliner Jaime Sifers blasted a shot from the point, only one of the three shots on goal for Toronto in the first period.
"Our game is based on shots," said Gilbert. "We had 30-plus shots in the first two games and we want to be back up there."
The coach was critical of the number of turnovers and first-period penalties.
"We're not going to take many shots when we're turning the pucks over. We discussed it between periods. We had eight turnovers at their blueline, which probably turned into 10 or 12 shots in their favour.
"Its sticking with a plan and playing the way we play," Gilbert added. "We really have to cut down on the turnovers."
The game became increasingly chippy as it progressed, leading up to a first-period tussle between new Marlies winger, Andre Deveaux, and Dane Byers, and a second-period fight involving Ben Ondrus and Brodie Dupont.
"We all have each other backs here," said Newbury.
Hartford scored early in the second to tie it at one, when Mike Ouellette, parked in front of the Marlies net, tipped in a Dale Weise centring attempt through Pogge.
The Marlies restored their lead to 2-1 after Alex Foster dropped a pass to Newbury, who snapped a shot into the top-right corner after taking consecutive penalties for the Marlies, one negating a power play, the other giving Hartford its third man advantage.
"It was a good play by Fozzie (Foster)," said Newbury. "I called for it and he made a great play and I was fortunate enough that it went in."
Darryl Boyce barely missed increasing the lead less than a minute later when he hit the goal post on a left-wing shot and Newbury again missed a semi-breakaway late in the period.
Toronto took a 3-1 lead in the third period when Kronwall's shot from the point found the twine behind Zabba with the man advantage.
"I think the third period was the best period we've played so far this year," Newbury said. "We kept it simple, took care of our own end first and that leads to good offence."
The Marlies host the Grand Rapids Griffins on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET at Ricoh Coliseum.