TORONTO - The Toronto Marlies leaned on Ben Scrivens and an impressive effort by their special teams on Saturday.
Scrivens made 26 saves, keeping his shutout bid alive until late in the third period, and the Marlies scored three times on the power play and added a short-handed goal as Toronto defeated the Albany Devils 4-1 in American Hockey League action.
"Ben was good again," said Toronto's coach Dallas Eakins. "He's earned the No. 1 spot here, and he needs to feel the weight of that. And with that comes being sharp when maybe your teammates aren't.
"He was very good for us early. Our guys weren't quite going offensively and he held us in and then we pounded a couple in on the power play."
Josh Engel and Nazem Kadri scored man-advantage goals less than five minutes apart late in the first period for Toronto (15-7-4). Greg Scott converted a short-handed breakaway and Luca Caputi scored a late power-play goal in the third period. Defenceman Simon Gysbers also chipped in with two assists.
"Our power play is clicking along right now and that's what we need," Scrivens said. "We need it to give us leads and to extend leads as well. And it was a great individual effort by (Scott) to score an unassisted short-handed marker for us, that really salted it away."
It was the Marlies' second win in a row ??? and third in four games ??? as Toronto strengthened its hold on first place in the North Division.
"Different things are going to win you games each night," Eakins said. "Today our penalty kill came up big, and they chipped in with a goal, too. Our power play, which has struggled at times, stepped up big."
Toronto went 3-for-6 on the power play while Albany was 0-for-5.
Darcy Zajac had the lone goal for the Devils (12-10-3), who suffered their second straight loss.
Scrivens was solid in net for Toronto, and he had a lot of help as the Marlies cleared away rebounds and supporting their netminder defensively.
"That's my job," Scrivens said. "Sometimes we're not always going to come out 100 per cent and it's my job to hold the fort until we get our bearings.
"I was fortunate, I made some good saves, and the guys played well defensively in front of me."
Albany goalie Keith Kinkaid wasn't quite as busy ??? making 21 saves ??? but the Devils stopper was forced to deal with more scoring chances.
The Marlies led 2-0 after the first period ??? despite not recording a shot on goal until midway through the opening frame ??? and were ahead by the same score after 40 minutes.
Toronto opened the scoring when Engel's wrist shot from the left point beat a screened Kinkaid for a power-play goal at 14:10 of the first period. The game was delayed for about five minutes after Engel's goal as fans rained teddy bears down on the ice as part of a holiday charity promotion.
Kadri made it 2-0 for the Marlies with another power-play goal when his wrist shot sailed past Kinkaid's glove at 18:40 of the first.
Scott effectively put the game out of reach when he stole the puck at Toronto's blue-line and skated in all alone on Kinkaid, fooling the Devils goalie with a deke at 7:41 of the third period while Marlies centre Darryl Boyce watched from the penalty box.
"If I scored on every breakaway that I had, I'd be a 50-goal scorer," said Scott with a smile. "I've got to bump up that percentage.
"The first priority on the PK obviously is to not let them score, and if I get a chance for a breakaway or something I'll go for it."
Zajac finally spoiled Scrivens' shutout bid when he fired a wrist shot from the slot past the Marlies goalie at 13:40 of the third period.
Notes: The Marlies are off until next Friday, when they kick off a four-game road trip in Milwaukee against the Admirals. ... There was an announced crowd of 5,151 at Ricoh Coliseum.