TORONTO - They combined for just one assist in Toronto’s 4-1 American Hockey League win over the Texas Stars Monday afternoon.
But the combination of Jerred Smithson, Mike Duco and Tyler Biggs up front, along with Andrew MacWilliam and Korbinian Holzer on the blue line, were the unsung heroes according to coach Steve Spott.
The Marlies five-man unit was tasked with shutting down a line that includes two of the top three scorers in the AHL in Travis Morin and Colton Sceviour.
"Those five guys had the task of shutting down Sceviour's line and they did a great job of it," Spott said.
"That five-man unit with Smithson's line did a great job against arguably the most dynamic line in this league. So I think those five guys deserve a lot of credit."
The Stars top line failed to register on the score sheet and finished the game with a combined minus-6 rating.
"When coach comes and says we want you to shut down so and so, we take that with a lot of pride," said MacWilliam.
"I thought we did a good job tonight along with Biggsy, Duco and Smitty up front. I love getting challenged before games to shut down certain people."
Josh Leivo and Jerry D’Amigo each scored a pair of third period goals as the Marlies (29-17-4) came from behind to defeat the Stars (30-16-7) in regulation for the first time this season.
Brett Ritchie scored the Stars only goal.
With the win, Toronto also avoided losing three straight for the second time this season. The loss was the first in regulation time in the last five games for Texas.
Christopher Nilstorp made 28 saves in the loss while Drew MacInytre stopped 30 shots for his 22nd win of the season.
Ritchie gave Texas a 1-0 lead at 15:15 in the second when he one-timed a pass from Mike Hedden past MacIntyre.
The Stars had an excellent chance to add to their lead at 6:51 of the third on Sceviour's shorthanded breakaway but MacIntyre turned the shot aside with his right pad.
Twenty-five seconds later, Leivo tied it 1-1, on a power play, taking a pass from Greg McKegg at the side of the net and beating Nilstorp for his 11th of the season.
"Oh yeah, it's been a while. It's always a good feeling," Leivo said of the power play connecting. "It obviously started a little goal streak for us so we're pretty happy about it and happy with the way we played.
“We were working it well on the power play, but I don't think we were getting our shots through properly and obviously getting the rebound chances . . . we weren't capitalizing on them."
Toronto managed only one goal in nine chances on the power play in Sunday’s loss to Utica. Spott called his team’s lack of production the difference maker in the loss and they were one for three tries Monday.
Texas had another chance to retake the lead at 8:30 of the third. With MacIntyre down and out, Scott Glennie put a puck on the net but T.J. Brennan was there to clear it before it crossed the goal line.
D’Amigo gave Toronto a 2-1 lead at 9:59 of the third, chasing down a pass from Spencer Abbott and beating Nilstorp's five-hole for his 12th of the season.
"Abbott's a great guy with great vision. I just try to get open for him and that was one of those plays where their defence kind of broke down," said D’Amigo of the game-winner. "I kind of saw an opening and busted through there.
"It was a little questionable if I would've gotten to it or not, but luckily I snuck it through his five hole and it was just a great play by both of us."
Leivo added his second of the night into an empty net at 18:22 of the third and, with 11 seconds remaining, D’Amigo added another empty netter.
With the win, the Marlies improve to 5-9-2 when trailing after two periods this season. Toronto continues its 10-game home stand Saturday when the San Antonio Rampage visit.