TORONTO -- Jonas Gustavsson's recurring heart problem overshadowed a dominating win for the Toronto Marlies on Wednesday.
Christian Hanson had a goal and four assists as the Marlies cruised to a 9-2 victory over the Connecticut Whale in an AHL matinee. Marcel Mueller added a goal and three assists while Alex Foster added two goals and an assist.
Nazem Kadri, Ryan Hamilton, Jeff Cowan, Simon Gysbers and Josh Engel added singles and Danny Richmond recorded four assists.
But it was Gustavsson who was in the spotlight after he was pulled following the first period due to an elevated heart rate. It was the Swede's second straight start and first at home for the Marlies after being assigned to the team for a two-week conditioning stint by the NHL's Maple Leafs.
"I don't know what it is," Gustavsson said. "I'm going to talk to the doctors soon, again, and we'll see what they say. They said it wasn't as bad as last year, and I could have gone in to play the third period. But we decided not to do that.
"It's more frustrating not to be able to keep going."
Gustavsson has battled the same problem before. He was first diagnosed with an abnormal heart rhythm in September 2009 and has undergone two surgeries to treat the condition. But it's the first time he's had to leave a game this season. In December 2009, he was forced to leave a game in Montreal and go to the hospital because his heart rate was elevated.
"I've been feeling good since then," he said. "It hasn't been bothering me, and I haven't felt it, so I hope it's going to stay that way.
"You never know. The doctors couldn't guarantee it wouldn't come back."
Jussi Rynnas replaced Gustavsson with the Marlies (25-20-0-7) already up 5-0 after the first period and made 21 saves the rest of the way.
Dale Weise and Tim Kennedy scored for the Whale (24-22-2-5). Dov Grumet-Morris took the loss in goal.
Toronto outshot Connecticut 16-4 in the period, spending most of the frame in the Whale's zone.
"This game was all about our system today," Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins said. "I didn't like our first couple of shifts, but then we got going and the way we were checking today was excellent. We got them to turn pucks over and we capitalized. And when you get up in a game like that, it's very hard for a team to come back."
"I'm real happy with the way our guys performed today."
Hanson credited his teammates for his five-point outburst.
"The team played well," Hanson said. "Any time I made a pass it seemed the guys were putting it in the net, and I had a lucky bounce at the end of the second."
It was a school-day game and a rare 11 a.m. start for the Marlies. Their previous morning start at home came at another school-day game on Nov. 24 against the Grand Rapids Griffins. There were 204 minutes in penalties in that game, including 18 fighting majors and six game misconducts that all came in the third period. The Marlies ended up winning 3-1.
The gameplan against the Whale was to get out to quick start.
"We knew if we jumped on them early we could get out to an early lead," Hanson said. "We knew if we stuck to our system we'd create turnovers and be able to put them in."
The Marlies now hit the road for four games, two each against Abbotsford and Manitoba, before returning home for a seven-game homestand.
Notes: Connecticut is the most penalized team in the league with 1,166 PIMs ... The Marlies came into the game ranked 1st in penalty-killing (87.1 per cent) . . . Connecticut's goal was the first power-play marker the Marlies have allowed in eight games . . . Announced attendance was 7,779.