The league’s second-ranked defense stifled its top-rated offense, and the result was a 2-1 victory by the Albany Devils in Game 1 of the North Division Finals at Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto on Wednesday night.
It was the first time since Nov. 29 (vs. St. John’s) that the Marlies had been held to one goal in a home game.
Scott Wedgewood (4-1) made 32 saves in the win for the Devils in Game 1, which saw all of its scoring take place in a 130-second span midway through the first period.
Albany grabbed the first lead of the series at 8:31 of the first as Brian O’Neill fired a shot from the top of the right circle that beat Garret Sparks on a Devils power play. It was the first goal of these playoffs for O’Neill, who tallied 10 goals and 10 assists in 19 games while winning the Calder Cup with Manchester last postseason.
The Marlies answered 49 seconds later as Connor Carrick’s shot pinballed past Wedgewood to tie the score at 1-1. It was the fourth goal in the last two games for Carrick, who was coming off a hat trick and five-point effort in Toronto’s series-clinching win over Bridgeport last Thursday.
But Albany regained the lead at 10:41 as Matt Lorito’s shot trickled past Sparks for his second goal of the playoffs.
Sparks (2-1), who had stopped all 43 shots he faced in 88 minutes of work in the first round, made 27 saves on 29 shots in Game 1. He still shows a 0.82 goals-against average and .972 save percentage this postseason.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Friday night in Toronto.
North Division Finals – Series “J” (best-of-7)
N1-Toronto Marlies vs. N2-Albany Devils
Game 1 – Wed., May 4 – Albany 2, TORONTO 1
Game 2 – Fri., May 6 – Albany at Toronto, 7:30
Game 3 – Sun., May 8 – Toronto at Albany, 5:00
Game 4 – Tue., May 10 – Toronto at Albany, 7:00
*Game 5 – Thu., May 12 – Toronto at Albany, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sat., May 14 – Albany at Toronto, 3:00
*Game 7 – Mon., May 16 – Albany at Toronto, 7:30
*if necessary… All times Eastern
— AHL (@TheAHL) May 4, 2016