TORONTO - Derrick Walser's overtime gamble paid off big for the Toronto Marlies.
The defenceman pinched and banged home a rebound from a John Mitchell shot to give the Toronto Marlies a 2-1 overtime win over the Binghamton Senators (11-9-3-1) in front of 2,781 fans at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto on Saturday afternoon.
Justin Pogge made 28 saves for the win in the Toronto net as the Marlies won their third straight contest.
Toronto coach Greg Gilbert was surprised - and ultimately, happy - to see Walser sniffing around the opposition net during 4-on-4 overtime play.
"I was kind of surprised he was that far up in the rush, actually, in the overtime, but obviously it paid off," Gilbert chuckled. "He read the situation well and jumped in there for the rebound."
Walser, who started the play by carrying the puck over Binghamton's blue-line, decided he was sticking around Senators goalie Jeff Glass once he saw Mitchell had the puck out near the blue-line.
"I got the puck and I decided not to dump it in, so I curled back and found (Jiri Tlusty)," Walser said. "He drew two guys to him and threw it to (Mitchell) and I just decided 'I'm going to go to the net this time.'
"I just went to the net and Mitch finally shot it, he always seems to wait until the last second to shoot, but this time he shot right away and the rebound came right out and I was fortunate to be there."
The goal helped pad Walser's outstanding offensive numbers. The 29-year-old has nine goals and 21 points through 23 games in his first year with the Marlies.
"Derrick's just one of those players, he's got the experience, he sees the ice well and he knows how to play," said Gilbert, whose team remains atop the North Division with a 16-4-0-3 record.
After nearly 50 minutes of scoreless hockey, the Marlies grabbed the lead when Tlusty broke through with his third goal in seven AHL games.
But Alexander Nikulin (fifth of the year) answered back for the Senators with just over five minutes to play in the third, firing a puck past Pogge to square the affair 1-1.
"It was a hard-fought game, Binghamton is a real hard-working team," Gilbert said. "They forecheck hard, they pressure pucks well and we knew it was going to be one of those nights".
"We were kind of getting a little frustrated early in the game because we weren't able to create the opportunities that we normally do. But we were turning pucks over at their blue-line and our blue-line and giving them the opportunities. So it was just one of those nights you had to stay with it and stay focused for 65 minutes and we found a way to win it."
Tlusty's goal was the result of some good work by Marlies captain Ben Ondrus, who poked the puck away from two Senators defenders to Tlusty in the slot. The Czech rookie then fired a shot past Glass on the stick side.
Both teams missed chances to seize the lead earlier in the game.
The Marlies had the puck in Binghamton's zone for almost the entire duration of a two-minute power play early in the third, but couldn't stuff the puck past Glass (8-5-2).
Pogge (7-1-3) kept the game scoreless midway through the second period when he stoned Binghamton captain and league goal-scoring leader Denis Hamel on a clean breakaway. Hamel streaked in from the left side and tried to fire a shot to the far corner, but Pogge used his stick to deflect the puck over the net.
Glass, who made 31 stops, answered back with a spectacular glove save on Walser while the Marlies enjoyed a 5-on-3 power play. Toronto had a two-man advantage for 48 seconds late in the second and early in the third, but failed to capitalize.
NOTES: The win was the Marlies' first ever over Binghamton at homeGlass entered the game with the second-best goals-against average (2.03) and save percentage (.934) in the AHLBoth Glass and Pogge have backstopped Canada to World Junior Championship gold. Glass did it at the 2005 event, while Pogge guided Canada to top spot at the 2006 tournamentThe Marlies host the Milwaukee Admirals Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. for their third game in three days.