The two teams are sharing a flight a day after the Marlies defeated the Heat 5-1 Thursday night in a game that ended with a chaotic 10 minutes filled with fighting majors, a game misconduct, and eight minor penalties.
Nazem Kadri had a goal and two assists and Ben Scrivens made 37 saves as Toronto tied the best-of-seven American Hockey League semi at a game apiece. Game 3 is Saturday.
“They might bring some air marshals on the flight just to make sure,” said Marlies defenceman Korbinian Holzer jokingly.
“What’s on the ice is on the ice and what’s off the ice is off the ice."
Kadri rounded out Toronto's scoring with an empty-net goal with eight and a half minutes remaining. Abbotsford made the unorthodox move of going without a goalie when they were on a power play from about the midway mark of the third, and Kadri took advantage.
“To be honest, I didn’t even know the net was empty when I got the puck,” said Kadri. “I picked up my head and saw the open cage so it was pretty easy.”
Matt Frattin's goal late in the first period was the game-winner. Ryan Hamilton had Toronto's first goal while Jerry D'Amigo, with his AHL post-season leading sixth goal, and Holzer scored in the second.
Scrivens was impressive, especially in the first period when he made a number of fine glove saves with the game still close.
“His game was stellar tonight," said Jon Rheault, who scored the lone goal for Abbotsford. "We had our chances and we put up a lot of shots. He came up big for them. At times you’ve got to say he played well and we can admit that but at the same time we’ll just keep going with it.”
Scrivens also had to deal with Toronto’s penalty trouble. Abbotsford was 0-for-10 in the power play, including a two-man advantage on three separate occasions.
“As good as the score looked, we could have easily let them get back into the game and that’s the part we need to address from this point forward,” said Scrivens. “Obviously you take the win, it’s tough to do in the playoffs so we’re happy that we got the win but we’ve got some lessons to learn.”
Rheault opened the scoring with his third playoff goal, but that was all the offence the Heat would get. Danny Taylor took made 24 saves in the loss.
Rheault opened the scoring at 10:03 of the first. After Ben Walter had his close-range shot from the left side kicked away by Scrivens, Rheault was in the perfect place on the right side to bank in the rebound into the open goal.
Hamilton tied the game with a goal from in close at 15:15 before Frattin scored his second of the series in the final minute, giving Toronto a lead it would not relinquish.
While Taylor was sharp in Game 1 as Abbotsford picked up the win, he looked shaky on Thursday and the 6,244 fans in attendance jumped all over him. Marlies fans chanted his name loudly and even cheered ironically when he would play the puck or make a save.
“Maybe sometimes for goalies it’s just hard to pick up,” said Heat head coach Troy Ward. “Maybe pay the light bill here and get it a little brighter in here, it might be a little easier to make a save.”
Ward added he’s not certain whether or not a goaltending change is in order for Game 3.
D'Amigo showed off his penchant for crashing the net just over two minutes into the second period. Kadri led a rush up the right wing before firing a shot on Taylor, then D'Amigo charged hard to the net and put in the rebound before toppling over the Heat goalie.
Just 1:53 after D'Amigo's goal, Holzer got his first of the post-season and gave Toronto a much needed cushion. Mike Zigomanis fed the blue-liner a pass from the right corner and Taylor could do nothing to stop Holzer’s quick shot.
Notes: Abbotsford won both home games against the Marlies in the regular season… Those two games concluded the regular season for both clubs… the loss also snapped an 11-game winning streak for the Heat in the regular season and playoffs.