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Marlies hold off Devils in wild Game 7

Richard Clune’s goal with 2:30 remaining in regulation capped a wild third period and sent the Toronto Marlies into the Eastern Conference championship series with a 4-3 victory over the Albany Devils in Game 7 of the North Division Finals at a sold-out Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto on Monday night.

The game was tied three times in the final frame before Clune tucked home the rebound of a shot off the end boards to finally put Toronto ahead for good. It was the first postseason goal of Clune’s nine-year pro career.

The Marlies will face Hershey in the Eastern Conference Finals beginning Friday night.

Toronto struck first in Game 7 when Connor Brown raced in on a partial breakaway and beat Scott Wedgewood for a shorthanded goal just 2:56 into the contest. It was the third goal of the series and sixth of the playoffs for Brown.

Albany tied it 46 seconds into the second period as Paul Thompson’s shot hit off the stick of Marlies goaltender Antoine Bibeau and caromed into the net.

The Devils then converted on a power play 2:41 into the third period as Nick Lappin banged in the rebound of Reid Boucher’s shot off a faceoff win by Jim O’Brien. It was the fifth goal of the series for Lappin.

The Marlies tied it back up at 2-2 with 10:53 remaining as Kasperi Kapanen sped through neutral zone, pulled up at the left-wing circle and snapped off a shot that handcuffed Wedgewood (20 saves) for his third goal of the playoffs – and his third in the last four games.

Connor Carrick gave the Marlies a 3-2 lead with 7:01 to play, pinching in from the point and scoring his sixth of the postseason off assists from Kapanen and William Nylander.

But the Devils answered again with 4:41 remaining on Thompson’s second goal of the night, making it 3-3.

Bibeau (25 saves) and the Marlies withstood the Devils’ pressure late to hang on and advance to the conference finals for the third time in five seasons.

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 – TORONTO 5, Albany 3
Game 3 – Sun., May 8 – ALBANY 3, Toronto 2 (OT)
Game 4 – Tue., May 10 – Toronto 7, ALBANY 2
Game 5 – Thu., May 12 – Toronto 5, ALBANY 1
Game 6 – Sat., May 14 – Albany 4, TORONTO 1
Game 7 – Mon., May 16 – TORONTO 4, Albany 3