Scrivens perfect in Marlies win

Toronto Marlies forward Philippe Dupuis celebrates after scoring the opening goal in Game 4 against...

Toronto Marlies forward Philippe Dupuis celebrates after scoring the opening goal in Game 4 against the Oklahoma City Barons. The Marlies now have a commanding 3-1 lead in the AHL's Western Conference final. Game 5 goes Friday at Ricoh Coliseum. (Craig Robertson/QMI Agency)

MIKE GANTER, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 12:31 AM ET

TORONTO - Undermanned, maybe. Outmanned? Not these Marlies.

Dallas Eakins admitted he came into Game 4 of this AHL Western Conference final thinking the going was going to be a little tougher for his squad with the likes of Nazem Kadri and Mike Zigomanis joining an injured list that already included Marcel Mueller, Carter Ashton and Jesse Blacker.

But those concerns lasted only briefly.

“When you start missing Zigomanis and Carter Ashton and Mueller and Blacker, all those players — you quietly are a little nervous about the game and then that calm just comes over you when you walk in the dressing room and you look at these young men that are in there and have fought so hard for the team all year, you know their character and you’re like: ‘Well, they’ll find a way to get it done’ and they do.”

That way on Wednesday night was a total defensive buy-in and an ability to cash in on the few scoring opportunities they did get for a 3-0 victory over the Oklahoma City Barons and a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Game 5 is set for Friday night, again at the Ricoh.

None of it of course happens without the stellar play of Ben Scrivens who stopped all 30 shots the Barons fired at him to record his third shutout in 12 playoff games and bring the Marlies to within a win of reaching the AHL final.

The Marlies got, what turned out to be, the game winner off the stick of Philippe Dupuis, who hammered home a rebound after Yann Danis had stopped Nicolas Deschamps shot with 6:18 to go in the first period.

Scrivens did the rest.

But as with anything the Marlies do these days, he didn’t do it alone.

Forwards were flying back, defencemen were blocking shots and Scrivens was making the big save when they needed him most.

“They had more guns than us,” Eakins admitted. “The problem (for OKC) is that (Scrivens) has a bullet-proof vest on. He kept us in it, gave us some saves when we needed them. It was just an excellent, excellent performance by Ben.”

Eakins knew he couldn’t rely on the kind of scoring he normally can with 10 of the 33 playoff goals they had scored belonging to the men unable to dress Wednesday night.

“We knew we were just going to have to wait for our opportunities,” he said. “We knew we wouldn’t be able to get our cycle game going, just because of our lineup. Our guys know their limitations. It’s not a slight against anyone in our lineup, but we knew we were going to have to check, check well and when we did get our opportunities make sure we buried it and we were able to do that.”

Scrivens was at his busiest in the first period when the turned back all 13 shots the Barons fired at him. The Marlies on the other hand managed just one but came away with that all-important 1-0 lead thanks to Dupuis goal.

But it was in the second where Scrivens was at his best. In about a three minute-span midway through the period, he went from one side of his net to the other to take away a sure goal from Dylan Yeo who had been staring at an open net. A couple of minutes later, he stopped Chris VandeVelde on a partial breakaway.

“That’s my job. That’s why I get paid,” Scrivens said. “I take comfort knowing they are going to score goals. It’ a two-way street.”

Scrivens was asked after the game about the confidence his teammates talk about getting from his play, particularly in the early part of games, Scrivens stopped the compliment cold and sent it back like a puck coming off his crossbar.

“That’s my job. That’s why I get paid,” Scrivens said. “I take comfort knowing they are going to score goals. It’ a two-way street.”

Despite getting just 16 shots on the Oklahoma City net all night, the Marlies managed to find the back of it three times although the third came with the net empty as Jerry D’Amigo potted his team-leading seventh of the playoffs.

The insurance goal came in the second period as Jake Gardiner deftly managed to keep a puck inside the Barons zone. Eventually it wound up in the corner from where Nicolas Deschamps threw one at the net that managed to go off Danis’ skate and into the net behind him.

Even Eakins, who knows the team better than anyone, was caught a little off guard by how unaffected his team was by the loss of even more of its star power.

“You look at those names and you could make your top two lines out of them,” Eakins said of the absentees. “But once again, the resiliency of this hockey club, the character, they will not quit. They refuse to. They expect to win no matter who is in the lineup and they certainly showed that tonight.”


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