By Dhiren Mahiban
THE CANADIAN PRESS
TORONTO — Toronto Marlies forward Jerry D’Amigo is earning a reputation for being a big-game player.
D’Amigo, who entered Wednesday’s Game 4 against the Chicago as the league-leader with nine points through five playoff games, scored in overtime as the Marlies edged the Wolves 4-3.
“He’s always been the guy that wants to be in that situation positively or negatively he wants to be on the ice,” said Toronto coach Steve Spott. “You can see tonight here again. It’s a big game, it’s a critical moment and he rises to the occasion.”
D’Amigo put home the rebound off a Trevor Smith point shot at 3:28 of the first over time for his fourth goal of the playoffs.
Toronto now has a commanding 3-0 lead in its best-of-seven series with Chicago.
“It was just kind of a mixup play and (Trevor Smith) got it back at the point, put it on net which I was happy and I was right there,” said D’Amigo, who also had an assist in the win. “I almost missed it there and I finally put it in.”
D’Amigo is the franchise leader in playoff scoring with 13 goals and 20 assists in 32 games. When asked about is clutch playoff scoring he said simply: “The puck just happened to be on my stick at times you need it.”
The Marlies are a perfect 6-0 in the playoffs and have just one loss in 10 games dating back to the regular season. Toronto also improved to 5-4 all time in Calder Cup playoff overtime games.
T.J. Brennan, Peter Holland, Brandon Kozun scored in regulation time for the Marlies, while Stratford, P.E.I., native Drew MacIntyre made 32 saves. MacIntyre, who has not lost a start in regulation since March 7, allowed three goals-against for the first time in these playoffs.
“He’s the reason why we’re in the game, a lot of these games,” said D’Amigo. He’s the backbone of our team and a guy who is keeping us in it when we’re playing badly for him so he deserves a lot more credit than all of us in that room right now.“
Dmitrji Jaskin, Adam Cracknell and Tyler Shattock replied for the Wolves. Jake Allen, the reigning AHL goaltender of the year, made 26 saves in the loss.
As a result of smoke in a nearby Federal Aviation Administration radar facility at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Tuesday, flights at both O’Hare and Midway were cancelled forcing the Wolves make alternate arrangements.
Sixteen players along with the Chicago coaching staff made it to Toronto before midnight Tuesday with some players not arriving until 3 p.m. local time.
Wednesday was by far the closest game to date in the series. After outscoring the Wolves 9-4 in the two games in Chicago, Game 3 was a back and forth affair between the two clubs.
Brennan opened the scoring, on a power play, one-timing a Spencer Abbott feed glove-side past Allen for his third goal of the playoffs at 5:26 of the first.
Jaskin tied it 1-1, on a power play, re-directing a Marc Cundari point shot for his fourth at 15:41.
Just 50 seconds later, Holland restored Toronto’s lead, one-timing a Brennan pass from the side of the net past Allen for his fourth at 16:31.
Cracknell tied it 2-2 with his third capitalizing off a Greg McKegg turnover and poking home the rebound off a Shane Harper shot at 18:28.
However, just 11 seconds later, Kozun gave the Marlies a 3-2 lead putting a bouncing puck off of Allen from behind the goal line for his third of the playoffs.
Toronto defenceman Andrew MacWilliam, who missed a month of the regular season with a concussion, left the game and did not return following a big hit on Cracknell behind the Toronto net early in the second period. MacWilliam was playing in just his fourth game since returning from the injury.
Spott said MacWilliam suffered an upper body injury, but that it was unrelated to the concussion he suffered in the regular season. MacWilliam will be re-evaluated Thursday and could be an option Friday.
Chicago controlled the play in the second period as they out-shot Toronto 14-5 and Shattock had the lone goal of the period batting a bouncing puck past a sprawling MacIntyre for his first of the playoffs at 11:34.
“They came out hard and they’re not going to quit obviously,” said D’Amigo. “They were playing our end the whole second period basically and we had to change that up.
“They had a tough travel day so we wanted to use our speed and use that to our advantage and I think we did that in the third.”
Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals is Friday night at Ricoh Coliseum.
Notes: Maple Leafs great Wendel Clark was on hand to drop the puck in a ceremonial faceoff. David Broll played his first game of the series replacing a healthy Frazer McLaren in the Marlies lineup.