Carter Ashton got off to a great start with the Toronto Marlies.
Acquired by the Toronto Maple Leafs prior to the NHL trade deadline, Ashton had a goal and assist Wednesday as the Marlies defeated the Hamilton Bulldogs 4-2 in the American Hockey League.
Ashton assisted on the game's first goal and tied the score 2-2 in the third to help the Marlies sweep a home-and-home series with the Bulldogs.
“It's a good feeling,” said Ashton, who was acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning for defenceman Keith Aulie on Monday. “It was a good start ... to contribute and be part of the win is nice.”
Toronto was down 2-1 in the third before Ashton and Mike Zigomanis scored to give the Marlies a 3-2 edge.
“Thank God these games are 60 minutes long,” Toronto coach Dallas Eakins said.
Jerry D'Amigo scored the first goal for Toronto (31-19-6), while Greg Scott iced the game late.
Andreas Engqvist and Phil DeSimone replied for the Bulldogs (25-25-5).
Eakins was pleased with Ashton's debut.
“He clearly can skate and he's got some size,” he said. “Looks like a good prospect but, hey listen, we've had him for two days, we'll wait and see how this goes.”
Ashton tied the game up at 14:19 of the third, tipping in a point shot five seconds into the power play.
Zigomanis gave the Marlies the lead with a quick shot that beat Hamilton goalie Robert Mayer blocker side. With the Hamilton net empty, Scott was awarded a goal when Frederic St. Denis threw his stick to stop the puck, rounding out the 4-2 Toronto win.
The Bulldogs, who were attempting to avoid a repeat of Sunday's ugly 6-1 loss to the Marlies, got on the board 56 seconds into the game.
“It's night and day the game we played on Sunday,” said Hamilton coach Clem Jodoin. “We had our chances.”
Engqvist stripped Simon Gysbers at the side of the net, walked through the crease and put the first shot of the game past Toronto goalie Ben Scrivens.
Hamilton got a scare when defenceman Garrett Stafford took a hit at the blue-line 11:04 into the first.
Marcel Mueller dropped his shoulder into Stafford as he crossed the blue-line as the Bulldogs' defender passed to his left.
The hit knocked Stafford onto his back, where he laid motionless on the ice for five minutes before being loaded onto a stretcher. Mueller was assessed a five-minute major for charging and a game misconduct on the play.
Hamilton couldn't cash in on the five minute power play, which gave Toronto life.
Penalties by Louis Leblanc, who was returned from the Montreal Canadiens on Monday, didn't help the Bulldogs' cause.
Leblanc kneed Nazem Kadri to finish the first period and then earned a double-minor for roughing in the second to put the wind in Toronto's sails.
The Marlies eventually tied the game at 14:21 when D'Amigo dove at a loose puck between Mayer's legs, knocking the goalie into the net as the puck trickled in.
Ashton got his first assist in a Toronto uniform on the play, his 17th of the season.
The Bulldogs took the lead back early in the third with Ashton in the penalty box for hooking as DeSimone beat of a feed from Engqvist.
NOTES: Alex Henry sat out Wednesday's game with a groin injury, ending his consecutive games streak at 203 games, formerly the longest among active AHL players. ... Leblanc made his return to the Bulldogs lineup after a stint with the Habs. He played 26 games in Montreal, scoring three goals and adding four assists. ... Ashton became the rookie leader in scoring for the Marlies thanks to the 19 goals and 16 assists he had while playing with the Norfolk Admirals.
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