Blacker, Rynnas the difference as Marlies defeat Wolves

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The Canadian Press
2/9/2013 5:45:25 PM
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TORONTO -- The Toronto Marlies leaned on their goaltender and Jussi Rynnas didn't disappoint.

The 25-year-old made 24 saves -- including 12 in the third period with Toronto clinging to a one-goal lead -- as the Marlies held off the Chicago Wolves 4-2 in the American Hockey League on Saturday.

"He was good, he played well," said Marlies coach Dallas Eakins. "That's a strong team over there and for Jussi to battle through the third period, when we didn't have a lot of confidence in the defensive zone, that's a big victory for him."

It was the fourth consecutive start for Rynnas, who had won just one of his previous four decisions.

"If you want to win, you need a goalie who'll make some big saves," Rynnas said. "I made a few good saves today.

"You've got to show that you're worth it when the coach gives you the start. I have to get a little better, more consistent, but if I can play like I did today, that's good."

Toronto's Mike Zigomanis and Joe Colborne scored on the power play, while Jesse Blacker had the game-winner and Carter Ashton added an empty-netter as the Marlies improved to 25-15-4 in front of 5,399 fans at Ricoh Coliseum. Colborne and Blacker each assists, while Jake Gardiner chipped in with a pair of his own.

"Colborne was engaged today," Eakins said. "He played very well, he recognized danger, he protected the puck and he's willing to take it to the net. This kid isn't going away."

Bill Sweatt and Andrew Gordon replied for Chicago (23-16-5). Darren Haydar contributed two assists. Chicago goalie Matt Climie blocked 20 of 23 shots for the loss.

The Marlies led 1-0 after the first period and were ahead 3-1 through 40 minutes. Toronto was 2-for-5 with the man advantage, while Chicago went 0-for-2.

Chicago scored early in the third period and outshot Toronto 12-7 in the final frame, but Rynnas was sharp in making a couple of point-blank saves with the game on the line.

"He's earned (a chance at the starting job)," Eakins said. "We're looking for somebody to take over for Ben Scrivens (who's in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs). Rynnas has been here for a few years, as long as anybody else in the organization.

"He's worked hard, he's done his best, he's earned his shot. And we're doing our best to keep going back to him and hoping he gets back to playing his best, night after night."

Zigomanis opened the scoring when he finished off a give-and-go with Tim Connolly by one-timing a shot past Climie's blocker for a power-play goal at 16:27 of the first period.

Colborne gave the Marlies a 2-0 lead when he squeezed a wraparound between Climie's skate and the post for another power-play marker at 4:28 of the second period. The Wolves closed the gap less than a minute later when Sweatt one-timed a high shot from the slot past Rynnas at 5:14. Blacker made it 3-1 for Toronto when he wristed a shot from the left faceoff circle past Climie at 14:17 of the second.

Gordon pulled the Wolves to within a goal when he snapped a wrist shot past Rynnas at 5:23 of the third period. Ashton closed out the scoring when he deposited an empty-netter at 18:55 to seal the game for the Marlies.

The Marlies host the Texas Stars on Sunday, while the Wolves welcome the Charlotte Checkers on Thursday.

Jussi Rynnas (Photo: Abelimages/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Abelimages/Getty Images)
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