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MacMillan and Phillips lift Wild over Marlies in shootout

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The Canadian Press
3/29/2014 6:13:51 PM
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TORONTO -- Toronto Marlies coach Steve Spott felt his team had more than enough opportunity to pick up two points Saturday afternoon at Ricoh Coliseum.

Toronto's power play was held scoreless on three opportunities, including once in overtime, and the Marlies out-shot the Iowa Wild 39-27, but fell 2-1 in a shootout to the visitors.

Carson MacMillan and Zack Phillips scored in the shootout to help Iowa snap a five-game skid. It was the Wild's fourth win in 11 games.

"I think we had more than enough opportunity to put the game away," said Spott. "Very good players with empty nets and we're hitting posts, we're not getting pucks up and over (Wild starter, Johan) Gustafsson.

"We had some glorious chances, that we didn't put in the back of the net. When you let a team like that -- that's desperate -- hang around, that's what the result is going to be."

Toronto dropped to 1-1-0 on their current three-game, three-night stretch and had their three-game win streak snapped.

MacMillan faked a slapshot and then beat Marlies starter Garret Sparks in the first round of the shootout. Then Phillips faked a shot, got Sparks moving before beating him glove-side in the third round.

Jamie MacQueen scored in regulation for Iowa (26-30-10), while Gustafsson made 38 saves for his 12th win of the season.

Peter Holland had the lone goal for Toronto (40-20-6). Sparks made 25 saves in his first loss since Jan. 25.

The Marlies could've had a fourth power-play opportunity, in the third period. Wild forward Brett Bulmer was assessed a roughing minor, but Brandon Kozun retaliated with a careless cross-check and negated the man advantage chance.

When asked of Kozun's penalty, Spott responded, "I think he won't play tomorrow."

With the win, the Wild earn a split in the season series. The Marlies won the only other meeting between the two teams 4-3 on Jan. 15 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Holland tied it 1-1, with his ninth of the season, at 1:12 of the third period by picking up the rebound off of a Kenny Ryan shot and beating Gustafsson stick-side.

"Kenny made a nice play, just coming down the right side and threw it off the pad," said Holland of the play. "I was lucky enough to kind of pick up the rebound, pull it across the net and tuck it in the far side."

Toronto dropped to 5-12-4 when trailing after 40 minutes this season.

MacQueen opened the scoring at 7:37 beating Sparks with a shot from the bottom of the face-off circle for his second of the season.

Prior to MacQueen's goal, Kris Foucault had a great scoring chance when his shot beat Sparks, but hit the post at 6:00 of the second.

Holland had an excellent chance to open the scoring at 16:00 of the first period, but put his shot off the side of the net with Gustafsson out of position.

"We missed a couple point-blank opportunities with open nets, putting it out the far side," said Holland agreeing with Spott's assessment. "Either that or hitting the post, a couple bounces go our way, it's a different story."

Toronto concludes their three-game, three night stretch, when they host the Abbotsford Heat on Sunday.

The Marlies need three points to clinch a playoff spot as well as their third consecutive North Division title. It's something the Maple Leafs minor leaguers are focused on.

"As we go forward here our job is to win the division and try to catch Grand Rapids for second in the conference and that's still our goal," said Spott.

Added Holland: "That's obviously our main objective here is to clinch as fast as we can. We don't want to take any of the teams we play lightly, but just work on things going into the playoffs. Give guys who don't get a lot of minutes a chance to play more. It's definitely something we're focusing on."

Notes: Rookie defenceman Eric Knodel made his professional debut replacing Korbinian Holzer for the Marlies. The Maple Leafs recalled forward Jerry D'Amigo from the Marlies on Saturday. Marlies goaltender Drew MacIntyre was a healthy scratch as Christopher Gibson backed up Sparks. Spott said Holzer, MacIntyre and captain Trevor Smith were all given the day off to rest bumps and bruises.

Hockey (Photo: Noah Graham/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Noah Graham/NHLI via Getty Images)
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