The Toronto Marlies are one win away from a rare Calder Cup final appearance.
Ben Scrivens made 30 saves as Toronto shut out the Oklahoma City Barons 3-0 on Wednesday night.
The Marlies now have a 3-1 series lead in the American Hockey League Western Conference final. The winner will face the Norfolk Admirals, who won the Eastern Conference final in a four-game sweep of the St. John’s IceCaps.
The club has not reched the Calder Cup final since moving to Toronto at the start of the 2005-06 season. In fact, the franchise, which started in St. Catharines, Ont., in 1982, has only reached the final once. The St. John’s Maple Leafs lost the 1992 final in seven games to the Adirondack Red Wings.
The Marlies won despite not having two of their top scorers, Mike Zigomanis and Nazem Kadri, in the lineup. Both sat out with an injury.
“So many guys stepped up for us tonight,” said Scrivens, who signed with Toronto as a college free agent in 2010. “We had a few guys banged up... and that’s what we needed — everybody buying in and pulling on the rope in the same direction. That’s the way we can play when we’re on the same page.”
Scrivens earned his 10th win and third shutout of the playoffs. The Marlies’ 25-year-old goaltender improved on his already stellar post-season stats. He entered the game with a 1.81 goals-against average and .937 save percentage.
“Stats are insignificant at this point,” Scrivens said. “I’m happy we won. That’s the biggest thing, especially with the line-up we had.
“From an outsider’s point of view, maybe we were underdogs tonight, and maybe we were, but we’ve got so much depth on this team and we have so much confidence in this room.”
That confidence in the team was echoed by Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins after the game.
“That’s the standard our players have set here over the past couple of years,” he said. “They fully expect to win every single game.”
Philippe Dupuis, Nicolas Deschamps and Jerry D’Amigo scored for Toronto.
Yann Danis made 10 saves on 12 shots in defeat. He was replaced by David LeNeveu to start the third period.
Despite being badly outplayed and outshot 13-5 in the first period, it was the Marlies who opened up the scoring 13:42 into the game.
Danis kicked out a Deschamps slapshot and the rebound went straight to a charging Dupuis, who pushed it past the Barons’ goalie for his fourth goal of the post-season.
“I’m confident when we’re up by a goal, and I’m confident when we’re down by a goal --— and so are our players,” Eakins said. “We’ve been through a lot this year and we’ve just found a way to win.”
The Barons looked to have tied the game 1:30 into the second period, but the officials ruled that Ryan Keller directed the puck into the net with his glove.
The Marlies then took a 2-0 lead on a fluke goal at 12:24 of the second when Deschamps banked a shot off Danis from behind the Barons’ net.
Toronto held back in the third period, getting just four shots on goal, but Scrivens and the Marlies were able to hold off the Barons.
“It’s my job — that’s why I get paid,” Scrivens said. “That’s what I got to do. I take comfort in knowing they’re going to score goals, so it’s a two-way street.”
D’Amigo clinched the game, scoring an empty-netter with 1:38 left in the game.
It was D’Amigo’s eighth goal of the playoffs, tying him with Matt Frattin and Norfolk’s Alexandre Picard for tops in the playoffs.
Game 5 goes Friday night at Ricoh Coliseum.
“Scrivy played a heck of a game,” Marlies defenceman Jake Gardiner said. “He’s been great for us all playoffs...Hopefully he can do it again Friday.”
Notes: Colton Orr and Josh Engel were inserted into the line-up and formed the fourth line with Jay Rosehill...Announced attendance was 6,238.