TORONTO - Trevor Smith scored twice and added an assist as the Toronto Marlies downed the visiting Lake Erie Monsters 5-1 on Sunday in American Hockey League play.
The 28-year-old, who was recently named Toronto's new captain, has had a strong start to the season as he's produced three goals, two of which are game winners, and five points in his first two outings.
"So far so good," said Smith of the pair Marlies victories. "These are the good times, you got to really embrace them. There's going to be some learning times coming this way so we've just got to embrace the wins."
Knowing this season's squad would be young and raw ? the Marlies dressed 13 players Sunday 23 or younger ? head coach Steve Spott challenged the veteran Smith to be the team's go-to guy and he's been impressed with what he's seen so far.
"He knows what to say, when to say it and on the ice you can see how dominant he is," said Spott. "He's got to be a point a game guy for us, that's the pressure. He knows that, he's accepted that and he likes that challenge."
Defenceman T.J. Brennan had a goal and an assist for the Marlies (2-0-0) while Greg McKegg and Tyler Biggs scored the others.
Mark Olver scored the lone goal for the Monsters (1-2-0), who were playing their third game in three days.
Drew MacIntyre made 20 saves for the win as Calvin Pickard stopped 28-of-31 shots in defeat.
Biggs opened the scoring early in the second with a short-handed goal when he poked home the rebound off Smith's breakaway. Biggs then set the physical tone, throwing a big hit on Lake Erie defenceman Markus Lauridsen behind the Monsters' net.
Lake Erie tied it 1-1 on the power play as Olver got around Marlies' defenceman Petter Granberg and, despite losing control of the puck, managed to get it between the legs of MacIntyre.
Smith gave the Marlies a 2-1 lead on the power play at 17:59 of the second as a floater fooled Pickard glove side. Smith made it 3-1 when he finished off a feed from Spencer Abbott early in the third.
Abbott, who was a minus-2 in just over five minutes of ice time in the Maple Leafs' 5-4 shootout win over the Ottawa Senators Saturday night, was reassigned to the Marlies along with Jamie Devane Sunday morning.
"They gave us two different elements," said Spott of the returnees. "Spencer gives us some skill and he plays a skilled high-tempo type game. Jamie obviously gives us some physicality and grit."
Brennan and McKegg scored empty-net goals late in the third to put the game out of reach.
Spott admitted his team was able to take advantage of a tired Monsters team who split back-to-back games in Abbotsford on Friday and Saturday before travelling to Toronto.
"We caught a break, I think, with the schedule," Spott said. "We tried to use that to our advantage today. We were able to wear them down."
Toronto went 1-for-8 on the power play while Lake Erie scored once on five chances with the man advantage.
An area of concern for the Marlies as they now have a week of practice is their 5-on-3 play. The club has had numerous opportunities to score while up two men in two games to start the year, but haven't been able to do it.
"We will work a lot on our 5-on-3 this week," said Spott. "We've got to give their goalie some credit, but ultimately, we have to punish teams when they take those penalties."
Toronto doesn't play again until next Saturday when they host the St John's IceCaps.