Peter Holland, returning to the Toronto lineup from injury for his first appearance of the postseason, recorded a goal and two assists and the Marlies took advantage of several odd-man chances to defeat Chicago, 5-2, in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal at Allstate Arena.
The Marlies won their fourth straight game to begin the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs and became the 10th road team in 12 series to win a Game 1 in the AHL this postseason.
Toronto opened the scoring at 10:54 of the first period when captain Trevor Smith, left alone in front on a power play, took a pass from Josh Leivo and deked Jake Allen before sliding the puck in for a 1-0 Marlies lead.
Holland made it 2-0 in favor of the Marlies just 4:01 later during a 5-on-3 power play as he backhanded a shot from down low over Allen’s glove.
Toronto opened up a 3-0 lead at 5:02 of the second after Leivo stole the puck on a backcheck and eventually fed Greg McKegg who snapped a shot blocker-side past Allen.
Chicago got on the board at 10:04 of the second period when Mark Cundari‘s shot went wide but caromed hard off the end boards and came in front to Christian Hanson, who chipped it over a sprawling Drew MacIntyre to make it 3-1.
Ty Rattie then redirected a Jani Hakanpaa outlet pass ahead to Michael Davies, who skated in on a partial breakaway and beat MacIntyre to pull Chicago within 3-2 at 17:26.
But Carter Ashton restored the Marlies’ two-goal lead at 3:53 of the third period when he took a long pass from Holland, raced by a pair of Wolves defenders and attempted a shot that hit Allen’s stick and directed into the net for his first goal of the postseason.
MacIntyre (4-0) stopped 37 of 39 shots to backstop Toronto to the win. Allen (3-3) finished with 30 saves on 35 shots for Chicago.
Western Conference Semifinals – Series “L” (best-of-7)
2-Chicago Wolves vs. 3-Toronto Marlies | Series Snapshot
Game 1 – Fri., May 9 – Toronto 5, CHICAGO 2
Game 2 – Sat., May 10 – Toronto at Chicago, 8:00
Game 3 – Wed., May 14 – Chicago at Toronto, 7:00
Game 4 – Fri., May 16 – Chicago at Toronto, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sat., May 17 – Chicago at Toronto, 7:00
*Game 6 – Mon., May 19 – Toronto at Chicago, 8:00
*Game 7 – Wed., May 21 – Toronto at Chicago, 8:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern