67's easy to bear on teddy toss night

AEDAN HELMER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:02 AM ET

The 67's didn't make fans hang onto their stuffed animals for too long on the annual Teddy Bear Toss night Friday at the Rona Centre.

The ice was littered with hundreds of plush toys which fans were encouraged to toss on the ice after the 67's opening goal at 11:37 of the first period when Travis Gibbons stepped into a Tyler Toffoli setup and blasted his second goal of the season from the top of the right faceoff circle.

The 67's went on to score a 4-1 win over the Belleville Bulls before 5,767 in the front end of a home-and-home against the Bulls, with the rematch Saturday at Yardmen Arena.

With Ryan Martindale out of the lineup nursing a sore ankle, the big centre's pain was Sean Monahan's gain, as the rookie was elevated to second-line duty. Cody Lindsay was reunited with old pal Toffoli and Shane Prince on the 67's top line in Martindale's usual spot.

The 16-year-old Monahan responded to the increased ice time with his sixth goal of the season, his third goal and fourth point in the past two games.

We've got lots of bodies out, so everybody's getting a chance to play some more minutes, said coach Chris Byrne after the game. (Monahan) has been playing well lately and his line was great (Friday).

Toffoli and Prince kept up their torrid pace, each extending their points streak to 10 games with their assists on Gibbons' opening goal.

The game took on a nasty tone when bruising defenceman Jake Cardwell was tossed from the game early in the second period when he was assessed a five-minute major penalty for boarding Belleville captain Luke Judson behind the Ottawa net.

It made it a tough game with (Jon) Carnevale out (after colliding with teammate Nick Foglia in the first period) and losing Cardwell, said Byrne. It wasn't a pretty game, but we found a way to win.

Cameras caught an angry Cardwell slamming the dressing room door shut as he left the ice, and Byrne was seen exchanging words with officials during the intermission.

As for Judson, he was bloodied but apparently wasn't badly hurt on the play.

Three minutes after peeling himself off the end boards, he shook off the cobwebs and scored on the ensuing powerplay to tie the game at 1-1.

He would be the only Belleville shooter to elude Petr Mrazek, who picked up his eigth straight victory. Ottawa is 8-2-0 in its last 10 games.

Ottawa's top-ranked penalty kill unit which entered the contest at an 86.6% clip was impressive once again, despite allowing the one goal.

Toffoli and Thomas Nesbitt each had quality scoring chances while shorthanded, and Mrazek, the team's best penalty killer, stoned Belleville snipers Andy Bathgate and Kyle DeCoste on point blank chances on the five minute advantage.

Nesbitt restored the lead six minutes later with an unassisted tally, his 13th of the season, wrestling the puck free from Alex Basso and fending off a check along the wall from the Bulls defender, snapping a rising shot that eluded Subban on the glove side.

Monahan padded the lead at 3:56 of the third, taking a Nesbitt pass and outwaiting the Belleville goaltender, firing a shot to the far side that sailed over Subban's glove and caught the top corner to make it 3-1.

Dalton Smith put the game away with an empty-netter with 59 seconds remaining to salt away the win.

The rematch goes Saturday in Belleville, with the Kingston Frontenacs, minus the suspended Erik Gudbranson, visiting Ottawa on Sunday.


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