TORONTO -- Even when they lose, the Toronto Marlies are managing to salvage points as the AHL regular season draws to a close.
Mike Connolly scored just 21 seconds into overtime as the Lake Erie Monsters beat the Marlies 3-2 in AHL action on Wednesday afternoon.
Despite the loss, the Marlies (38-21-9) have registered at least a point in 11 of their last 12 games, inching closer to their second straight North Division title and staying in the hunt for first place in the Western Conference
"Especially this time of year, you take whatever you can get," said forward Joe Colborne.
"These are the points you kind of put into the bank and the second point would have been huge for us, but it's another point. For us to separate ourselves from a couple teams further down the standings. We haven't given up on first place either."
Jerry D'Amigo and Sam Carrick scored for the Marlies while Andrew Agozziono and Thomas Pock had the earlier goals for the Monsters.
Lake Erie's first two goals came on both of their power-play opportunities, while the Marlies were 0-2 with the man advantage.
Playing a rare day game, the Marlies were also playing under the shadow of the trade deadline. And apart from some younger players who were playing in an unfamiliar situation, it didn't seem to be much of a factor in how the team played.
"They understand the chatter in this market. They understand that there are so many experts -- just look at all the channels," said head coach Dallas Eakins. "I've never seen so many hockey experts in my life. I don't even think they were distracted at all by it."
Toronto goalie Mark Owuya made 25 saves for the Marlies, while Sami Aittokallio made 35 saves for the Monsters (30-30-10).
Agozzino staked the Monsters to a first period lead when he got his 18th of the season at 13:16 of the first.
Agozzino set up a perfect screen in front of Owuya and was able to deflect Markus Lauridsen's shot from the point.
The Monsters maintained that one-goal lead until 10:37 of the second when D'Amigo took advantage of an error by Aittokallio to score his 16th of the season.
Aittokallio had managed to get a poke check on an initial Toronto rush, but he didn't get much of his stick on it and D'Amigo picked up the loose puck and lifted it over the helpless Lake Erie goalie to tie the game.
Carrick gave the Marlies their first lead of the night at 7:40 of the third. He skated out towards the faceoff circle from the right side of the Lake Erie net before spinning and firing in a shot that beat Aittokallio in the short side.
Pock's 11th of the season tied the game at 15:38. Owuya had a hard time seeing anything with a big screen in front and Pock's shot from the point got by everyone and sent the game to overtime.
Connolly led a rush up the left side and switched to his backhand to tuck the puck past Owuya.
"We're a team that's going to have to scrape and claw every night. I foresee the rest of our games being tied or one-goal games even going into the playoffs," said Eakins. "This is going to be a scratch and claw team that has to score dirty, nasty goals."
The Marlies now embark on a four-game road trip that goes coast to coast with two games in St. John's and two games at the other end of the country in Abbotsford, B.C.