Simon Gysbers isn't known for his scoring prowess, but the young defenceman played the role of overtime hero for the Toronto Marlies on Friday.
Gysbers scored nearly four minutes into overtime as the Marlies defeated the Hamilton Bulldogs 5-4 in American Hockey League action.
"It was nice," the defenceman said simply of his goal. "This is the third game that I've played and I've been in and out of the lineup a little bit. It feels nice to get the win and it feels really good to have scored the winner for sure."
Carter Ashton, Jake Gardiner, Mike Zigomanis and Greg McKegg also scored for the Marlies (3-2-1), while Ben Scrivens stopped 35 of 39 shots.
Toronto's head coach Dallas Eakins was encouraged by his team's ability to generate goals from five different scorers.
"The way that our lineup is every night, we've got lots of guys who can score goals," said Eakins. "That's the least of our worries with this team. I think getting guys out in the right spots and getting guys enough power play time is a priority.
"But any time that you can get a whole bunch of goal scorers is great. The way that we had our lines structured, it's hard for any team to say, 'We're going to check that line.' You better check all three lines, because they're all doing damage."
Mike Blunden, Brendan Gallagher, Frederic St-Denis and Gabriel Dumont had goals for the Bulldogs (2-3-0).
The Marlies opened the scoring at 6:17 of the first, when Ashton chipped in a rebound past an outstretched goalie Peter Delmas for his first goal of the season.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Hamilton tied it 21 seconds later when Scrivens mishandled the puck behind his net and it bounced weakly to Bulldogs forward Joonas Nattinen.
He found Blunden with a short centring pass, and the winger tapped it in.
Scrivens produced a flurry of saves early in the second to preserve the tie, but the deadlock was broken at 8:51, when Gardiner's slapshot from the point beat a screened Delmas. The goal was Gardiner's third of the season.
Toronto couldn't hold the lead again as Hamilton scored an equalizer just three minutes later. A roughing penalty to the Marlies' Mark Fraser put the Bulldogs on the power play at 10:32, and Gallagher punished the visitors by jamming Steve Quailer's rebound past Scrivens at 11:59.
Hamilton gained their first lead of the night late in the period when Gallagher threaded a cross-ice pass to St. Denis, who waited out Scrivens and roofed the puck with a wrister at 17:37 to give the Bulldogs a 3-2 advantage.
But a double-minor penalty for high-sticking to Hamilton's Michael Bournival put Toronto on the power play with two minutes remaining, and the visitors took full advantage.
Keith Aucoin won the draw to the left of Delmas and the puck found its way to McKegg, who snapped a quick shot past the Bulldog goalie only four seconds into the power play at 18:18.
Toronto retook the lead at 5:34 of the third, when Zigomanis took a drop pass from Nazem Kadri and lofted a backhand over the shoulder of Delmas.
Hamilton tied it 4-4 at 14:42, when Dumont jammed a loose puck past Scrivens in the midst of a scrum in front of the Toronto net.
Toronto appeared to have scored the winner with four seconds remaining, but Colborne was whistled for hooking to negate Paul Ranger's shot.
"It was tough," said Gysbers of the disallowed goal. "Everyone started celebrating and then we realized that we had a penalty. So it was a quick change of emotions, that's for sure."
"But we couldn't dwell on it too long because we had to prepare for killing off that penalty. With it being 4-on-3, our killers did a great job."
Eakins said his team's successful penalty kill in overtime was a turning point.
"I thought it was one of those rollercoaster games, up and down," said Eakins. "We were evenly matched all night, but winning that game after having to kill that penalty in overtime is a huge building block for our season."
The Marlies penalty kill was rewarded when Gysbers fired a slapshot past Delmas with 55 seconds remaining in the extra time for his first goal of the season.
Delmas stopped 19 of 24 shots in the loss. Attendance at Copps Coliseum was announced as 5,569.