Toronto scored four times in the second period — including twice in the final 17 seconds — overcoming an early lull and handing Bridgeport a 4-1 defeat in Game 1 of their North Division semifinal series on Saturday evening.
The teams play Game 2 in Bridgeport on Sunday.
The Sound Tigers flew out of the gate in Game 1, taking 20 shots on goal in the opening period and carrying a 1-0 lead into the intermission on a goal by Justin Florek.
But the Marlies, who had the best regular-season record and top-ranked offense in the AHL, pulled even on a power-play goal by T.J. Brennan at 4:36 of the second period, then grabbed the lead on William Nylander‘s shot four minutes later.
What looked to be a close contest heading into the third was quickly blown open. Nikita Soshnikov converted on a two-on-one rush with 16.4 seconds left before the second intermission, and then Connor Brown scored on a breakaway with 0.3 seconds remaining to make it 4-1 for the Marlies.
Toronto outshot Bridgeport 27-12 over the final 40 minutes and 39-32 for the game.
Antoine Bibeau (1-0) made 31 saves in the win for the Marlies, while Stephon Williams (0-1) stopped 35 shots in defeat for the Sound Tigers.
North Division Semifinals – Series “C” (best-of-5)
N1-Toronto Marlies vs. A5-Bridgeport Sound Tigers
Game 1 – Sat., Apr. 23 – Toronto 4, BRIDGEPORT 1
Game 2 – Sun., Apr. 24 – Toronto at Bridgeport, 5:00
Game 3 – Thu., Apr. 28 – Bridgeport at Toronto, 7:30
*Game 4 – Fri., Apr. 29 – Bridgeport at Toronto, 7:30
*Game 5 – Sun., May 1 – Bridgeport at Toronto, 3:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern