D'Amigo murder on Rochester

Toronto Marlies forward Jerry D'Amigo celebrates his goal against the Rochester Americans at Ricoh...

Toronto Marlies forward Jerry D'Amigo celebrates his goal against the Rochester Americans at Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto, Ont., April 21, 2012. (JACK BOLAND/QMI Agency)

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:05 PM ET

TORONTO - The halls of Ricoh Coliseum once more sounded like a taping for the Springer show, with all the ‘Jerry, Jerry’ chants from fans near the Marlie dressing room.

But Jerry D’Amigo was quick to cede the spotlight to special guest Matt Frattin, when the duo ended Saturday’s game on the same line and rescued a 4-3 decision over Rochester. Frattin kept the puck alive for D’Amigo, whose second late-game winner in the series gives Toronto a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five. The Marlies can wrap up Monday in Rochester, where everyone predicts another one-goal game after all 12 meetings between the teams so far this year were decided in such a hair-raising manner.

Sunday’s winner followed the kind of goal that would have endeared Frattin to the Maple Leafs brass watching the game overhead, He hammered Americans’ defenceman Nick Crawford before he could clear the zone, gathered the puck and set up Nicolas Deschamps in the second period.

“That’s what I have to bring every game,” said Frattin, who endured a terrible slump with the Leafs before ending the NHL season strong with eight goals and 15 points in 56 games. “This is playoff hockey and the battles are much more intense from (Game 1). I was trying to bring a physical aspect today, got a good bounce and was lucky to get it on net for Nick.”

In an eerie repeat of Game 1, the Marlies scored first and nearly blew a 3-1 lead. By the third period, Rochester coach Ron Rolston had juggled his lines to compensate for a leg injury to Evan Rankin, who left on crutches. That caused Toronto’s Dallas Eakins to madly push his own buttons, resulting in D’Amigo leaving his French Connection pals Deschamps and Philippe Dupuis to take Carter Ashton’s spot with Frattin and centre Joe Colborne.

With Colborne unable to take faceoffs because of a hand cut — (“I knew it was bad because I followed his trail of blood to the dressing room,” Eakins said) — first Frattin, then D’Amigo went into the circle to the right of the Rochester cage with two minutes to play. Both lost their draws. But a fortunate deflection from a staunchion allowed Frattin to get it over to D’Amigo for his second of the game and fourth of the series.

“Hopefully Joe can take draws next game or Jerry and I better start practising,” Frattin joked. “I saw Jerry roll off the wall and beat his defender to the net. It was a risky play, but he got it on net.”

It wasn’t a stellar day for goalies Ben Scrivens or David Leggio with just 25 shots each, but Scrivens made big saves in the early going.

“We score, they answer the bell, we scored to tie it up and then they answered it again,” said Rochester’s offensive leader Marcus Foligno. “They’re getting them at the right time, we’re trying to play catch-up and eventually that’s going to hurt you.”

The game was almost out of reach for Rochester early in the second period on an apparent Nazem Kadri goal. The horn sounded, the Marlies were celebrating and a sellout crowd of 7,816 started waving towels when it seemed Kadri had successfully deked Leggio to make it 3-0. But the referees didn’t see the puck completely cross the line after hitting both posts.

“I have video that showed it was a goal,” said Eakins. “But this league is limited, we don’t have video replay. Things happen quickly and I have the benefit of going to my office to see it better.”

After the Kadri quandary, Foligno and Phil Varone both found the short side on Scrivens. Varone’s goal came just as a bad Korbinian Holzer penalty for throwing a puck into the seats had ended.

The Amerks are in the playoffs on the coat-tails of Leggio, so any let-down on his part would be costly.

That’s what happened in the second minute of the game, when he guessed wrong trying to beat Dupuis to a puck behind his net. Dupuis centred to D’Amigo for the empty netter. Mike Zigomanis and Deschamps made it 3-1.

“(Leggio) has played our last 25 games or so and he’s counted on a lot,” Rolston said. “He was voted by the team as their most valuable player. They understand the importance of having someone who gives them a chance to win games every night.”

Now he’ll have to win three.

“I told our guys this would be the second-hardest game to win,” Eakins said. “The hardest will be in Rochester.”

lance.hornby@sunmedia.ca


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