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Marlies double up Crunch in afternoon action

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The Canadian Press
3/6/2013 3:28:33 PM
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TORONTO -- The Toronto Marlies were up against the wall in the first 20 minutes against the Syracuse Crunch.

But after a first period where they were outshot 22-5 -- and thoroughly outclassed -- the Marlies' survival instincts kicked in.

Spencer Abbott and Ryan Hamilton each scored twice as the Marlies pulled away with three second-period goals to beat the Crunch 6-3 in American Hockey League action Wednesday.

"The tide seemed to turn their way immediately and that's hard to weather, but if you can get through it it strengthens your team and you saw that in the second period," said Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins. "We got through it, it was even and it almost makes the rest of the game is going to be easier."

Paul Ranger and Jesse Blacker also scored for the Marlies (30-19-6).

Philip-Michael Devos, J.T. Brown and Alex Hutchings scored for Syracuse (34-17-7).

The Marlies roared to life in the second period with Ranger, Blacker and Abbott all scoring in the first seven and a half minutes.

Ranger scored Toronto's second of three power play goals in the game at 1:31 of the second, then Blacker scored off his own rebound at 2:27.

The scoring spree ended on a power play at 7:24 when Abbott scored his second of the afternoon by finishing off a nice passing play with Ranger and Hamilton.

Drew MacIntyre made 39 saves for Toronto.

Syracuse starting goalie Riku Helenius gave up four goals on seven shots and was replaced by Pat Nagle after Toronto's fourth goal of the game in the second period.

Eakins said that prior to the game he encouraged his team to take shots as often as possible as Helenius's save percentage was an unimpressive .893

"Today was a very up-and-down game and one that showed you how important goaltending is," Eakins said. "Our guy was very good and their guy wasn't."

Syracuse opened the scoring in a one-sided first period when Devos banged in a rebound at 5:32.

It took Toronto almost 10 minutes to get their first shot on goal, but when it did it paid off. After Helenius saved a Jake Gardiner shot, Hamilton threw himself at the loose puck to poke it in at 9:55.

"It was a playoff game. There was a lot of energy and a lot of emotion out there," Hamilton said. "When we were able to get that power play goal and go in at the intermission tied up it was good and something to build on."

Much of the energy in the building came from the sold-out crowd of 7,851. Most in attendance were students attending one of the Marlies' "school day matchups" and the noise was ramped up even before the game started.

Syracuse went ahead again at 14:48 when Brown quickly headed to the net after a faceoff in the Toronto zone and scored from close range.

Though they didn't spend much time in the Crunch zone, Toronto efficiently found a second game-tying goal at 15:24 when Abbott fired in a one-time shot from a Gardiner pass from the edge of the right faceoff circle.

"When it looks really bad at the start you've just got to try to get through it. You never know how it's going to go out there," said MacIntyre who's won four games in six starts since signing with the Marlies in February. "It was huge that we scored even one but two. That was huge that we survived."

Toronto had more penalties (eight) in the first period than shots.

Ryan Hamilton (Photo: Texas Stars)

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(Photo: Texas Stars)
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