This is the game the Toronto Marlies have clearly needed for a few weeks now. A thorough, 60-minute effort was the name of the game tonight, as the team began their two-week road trip by playing in Laval for the first time, defeating the Rocket by a 3-0 result.

Looking for vengeance after a 3-2 loss at home on Saturday, it took Toronto just four minutes to get themselves on the scoreboard today. In this case, it came off a creative stretch pass by veteran Vincent Loverde. The bomb was tossed, Nikita Soshnikov gave it a tap, and Colin Greening feasted on a wide open loose puck. It wouldn’t take the Marlies too long to double up either, this time thanks to another play where Soshnikov got a lucky primary assist:

This time, Andreas Johnsson scoops up Soshnikov’s attempted pass, which went off a Laval defender’s skate and gave him enough room to deposit his fourth goal of the season in the back of Charlie Lindgren’s net. In the second, he’d pull off a similar accomplishment once more, bringing the powerplay to 2-for-3 (they’d finish 2-for-5 on the night) through a rebound from Mason Marchment’s low shot:

That was as far as the scoring went tonight, but that doesn’t mean that the Marlies let off the gas. If anything, the gap of control persisted in the third, as they outshot the Rocket 11-5 to bring the full-game total to 32-18. It wasn’t just what they did that mattered though, it was how they did it. Especially from two of the aforementioned skaters:

The confidence coming off of Marchment and Johnsson right now is incredible, as both make strong cases for the next steps in their respective journeys. Marchment is pushing hard for an entry-level contract, now sitting at 6 points in his first 7 games; the biggest boundary for him will be the NHL’s 50-contract limit and how close the Leafs presently are to it. In Johnsson’s case, his positional awareness and finishing ability has made him look like a bonafide, ready NHLer since at least training camp, if not late last year.

They weren’t the only players who had strong nights, though. Timothy Liljegren, Travis Dermott, Dmytro Timashov, and Kerby Rychel all took at least three shots on goal, and Garret Sparks ended up with a quiet, but historically meaningful 18-save shutout.

I use that description because it was the 11th of Sparks’ AHL career, breaking a Marlies all-time franchise record. What makes that so impressive is how quickly Sparks has done it, hitting the mark in just 84 games played, with all of them coming in his last 60. Through six games this year, he’s an obscene 5-1-0 with two shutouts, a 1.52 GAA and a 0.942 save percentage: certainly, a line that makes you believe he can potentially be an NHL backup as soon as, well, now.

With the win, Toronto improves to 7-3-0 on the season. The team will get a few days off now, returning to the ice on Saturday against the Hershey Bears.

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