Marlies take 2-0 series lead over Americans

TORONTO — It took just two playoff games for Drew MacIntyre to accomplish what he couldn’t do in 21 regular season games for the Toronto Marlies — record his first shutout.

MacIntyre made 25 saves as the Toronto Marlies beat the Rochester Americans 2-0 on Sunday in Game 2 of their American Hockey League first-round series.

“A bunch of people were saying I’m saving them for the playoffs,” said MacIntyre, who joined the Marlies in February. “They always found a way a bunch of times. It was 20-some games and not one.”

Jerry D’Amigo and Mike Zigomanis each scored their first goals of the playoffs to give Toronto a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five first round series.

It was a much-improved performance for the Marlies, who managed to pick up a 6-3 win in the first game of the series on Saturday despite being outshot 34-18.

“We started off strong, definitely coming off not as good a game as we wanted to (Saturday) so that was huge,” said D’Amigo. “That was huge coming out with (MacIntyre) having a great game, and a lot of other guys came out and contributed and had great games as well.”

Matt Hackett stopped 18 shots for the Americans.

After MacIntyre almost single-handedly kept the Marlies in Saturday’s game, head coach Dallas Eakins was pleased his goalie finally got that first shutout.

“He gives our group confidence and just a sense of calm back there. That’s what you want from your goalie,” said Eakins. “You want your goalie to give your team a real sense of calm knowing that he’s going to make the saves that he’s supposed to and once in a while he’s going to make the saves that he’s not supposed to.”

After a scoreless first period where the teams combined for only nine shots, Rochester succumbed to a discipline problem in the second.

Toronto went on the power play on five occasions in the second and Zigomanis gave Toronto the lead on the third of those opportunities at 12:39.

After D’Amigo’s initial shot from the left side was saved, Greg Scott had the first chance at the rebound from close range but Zigomanis was there to bang in the second rebound.

D’Amigo put Toronto up by two goals at 1:45 of the third after the Marlies capitalized on some poor team play by Rochester.

In his two seasons as a pro, the playoffs have been D’Amigo’s time to shine. He scored five goals in the first round last season and has four points in the first two games this year. His two points on Saturday gives him 17 career playoff points, which makes him the Marlies’ franchise leader in playoff scoring.

“I’m trying to explain myself the same thing,” said D’Amigo of his post-season success. “I think it’s just the big games, the big atmosphere, how there might not be a tomorrow and you go series to series. I think I take it step by step in that sense and try to do my best.”

In the lead-up to D’Amigo’s goal, Hackett had gone behind the net to play the puck and was challenged by the Marlies’ Greg McKegg. Hackett got the puck out to teammate Alex Biega who mistakenly knocked the puck right back behind the net.

McKegg was the beneficiary on that play and he put the puck in front to D’Amigo, who had the whole net to shoot at as Hackett was still stuck behind the goal.

The Marlies went 1 for 8 on the power play while the Americans were scoreless in five opportunities.

Toronto can clinch the series on Wednesday as the series moves to Rochester, N.Y. for Game 3. If necessary, Game 4 would be in Rochester on Thursday and Game 5 would be back in Toronto next Saturday.

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