Nazem Kadri's OT heroics lead Marlies past Americans
Goals have been few for Nazem Kadri this season, but he managed to double his output in one game.
Kadri had a pair of goals including the overtime winner as the Toronto Marlies rallied to beat the Rochester Americans 3-2 in American Hockey League action Saturday night.
Matt Frattin made a perfect cross-ice pass on the rush to Kadri, who snapped a shot on his off wing past goalie David Leggio at 1:06 of overtime to give Toronto a sweep of back-to-back games against Rochester.
It was a come-from-behind win for the Marlies, who were down a goal twice and never led until Kadri's overtime winner.
"This is the type of game that can turn a season around," Kadri said. "Every time we're down a goal, it doesn't matter who it is, this team fights back. That's a simple case of character, just all the guys having heart — that's just us battling for each other.
"We know a one-goal lead is not a big deal. We were able to inch our way back and win it in overtime."
Kadri also opened the scoring, giving him four goals on the season. Paul Ranger had the other goal for Toronto (11-8-1), while Ben Scrivens stopped 36 shots in his second straight start.
"We had a solid effort from everybody today and I'm just proud of the boys," Kadri said. "They mucked it out and we greased out a win."
Brayden McNabb and Alex Biega scored for Rochester (9-9-1). Leggio made 32 saves in defeat.
The Marlies beat the Americans 4-1 on Friday in the second meeting between the teams this season and have won all three games in the division rivalry.
"Not many guys on either team like each other and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out with everything that's going on the ice," Kadri said. "But that's hockey — hard-nosed, nose-to-the-grindstone game. You can't shy away from it, you have to play with it and through it."
Rochester opened the scoring Saturday on the power play with the only goal of the first period. With Keith Aucoin off for slashing, McNabb fired a slapshot from the point that drifted past a screened Scrivens.
The Americans dominated the play in the second period, outshooting the Marlies 19-6, but Toronto finally tied the game with five minutes left in the period on a power-play goal of its own.
With Luke Adam off for slashing, Frattin worked the puck down low to Aucoin, who made a hard cross-ice pass through the crease to Kadri for an easy tap-in at the side of the net.
It was Kadri's third goal of the season to go with his 13 assists.
"I was able to push off the defenceman's hip and get to that soft spot right on the back door," Kadri said. "Coiner made a great pass right on my stick."
But the tie was short-lived as Rochester came back just over a minute later. Biega skated harmlessly through the neutral zone and snapped a shot inside the Marlies' blue-line that deflected in off defenceman Korbinian Holzer's stick.
The goal was just Biega's second of the season.
Late in the period, the Marlies' Will Acton, listed at six-foot-two and a generous 190 pounds, made an ill-advised decision to fight the Americans' Marcus Foligno (six-three, 226 pounds), who quickly dropped Acton to the ice with a flurry of heavy punches.
"Our guys have no fear," Eakins said. "Will Acton has scraped and clawed for everything he's ever gotten in hockey and he's not going to back down from anyone. He was in Foligno's ear all night and we all knew that was coming sooner or later.
"That's an important thing — no matter how big the man, how big or how strong, we're not going to back down. We're never going to turn away."
Toronto pressed the action in the third period, outshooting Rochester 16-9 and tying it up again at 15:12. Ranger picked off a Rochester clearing attempt at the top of the circle and snapped a shot in the top right corner.
"When a guy like Ranger walks into a spot like that, it's going to be trouble for any goalie. [He] brings a sense of confidence every night. He's a real good leader for our team and he's got a lot of hockey ahead of him."