CLEVELAND — Kasimir Kaskisuo is making the most of his opportunity.
Kaskisuo made 35 saves — including 15 in the third period to preserve a one-goal lead — as the Toronto Marlies blanked the Cleveland Monsters 2-0 on Sunday to take a 3-0 lead in their second-round series.
The 25-year-old from Finland, who was called upon to carry the workload after Michael Hutchinson was recalled by the Maple Leafs in early April, has won all six of his post-season starts with a 1.49 goals-against average and .953 save percentage after earning his first career playoff shutout.
"He's so confident right now. Any puck that's coming in from the perimeter, he's tracking it well, he's giving no rebounds," said Marlies head coach Sheldon Keefe.
"His confidence is growing by the day and our confidence in him has been there for quite awhile now and he's a big reason why we're still playing."
Adam Brooks put the Marlies ahead 1-0 at 13:24 of the first period with his fifth goal of the playoffs. It stayed a one-goal game until Dymtro Timashov potted an empty netter with 31 seconds to go in the third.
Timashov's goal extended his point streak to six games.
"(Kaskisuo) has been playing great for us all playoffs. We knew he was going to shut the door," said Brooks.
Brad Thiessen stopped 24 shots for the Monsters, who will try and avoid elimination when they host Game 4 on Tuesday.
Hutchinson was originally expected to get the bulk of the starts in net for the Marlies, but was recalled by the Leafs on April 5 to backup Frederik Andersen after coach Mike Babcock lost confidence in Garret Sparks as the No. 2. Hutchinson was returned to the AHL on April 26 after the Leafs were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, however Keefe hasn't had a reason to go back to him.
Kaskisuo struggled for the first two thirds of the AHL season, finishing the campaign 12-9-5 with a 3.07 GAA and .896 save percentage in 30 appearances. But he responded by going 2-0-1 with a .931 save percentage without Hutchinson down the stretch and has kept up his play in the post-season.