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Toronto Marlies to play for Calder Cup

Toronto Marlies to play for Calder Cup
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The Toronto Marlies edged the Lehigh Valley Phantoms 3-1 Friday night to complete a 4-0 series sweep in their AHL Eastern Conference final and advance to the Calder Cup championship series.

The Marlies have a chance to win their first AHL championship; they’ll have to get by either Texas or Rockford, still vying for the Western Conference title.

Andreas Johnsson scored twice for the Marlies, who have won nine straight post-season games since Johnsson was returned to the Marlies by the Maple Leafs on April 27, after the parent club was knocked out of the NHL playoffs by the Boston Bruins.

Johnsson has produced six goals and 15 points in those nine games to sit second in playoff scoring, while Toronto has outscored the opposition 37-13 in that span.

Johnsson fought off a defenceman at the bottom of the faceoff circle, pulled the puck back and beat Phantoms goalie Alex Lyon five-hole 3:27 into the third period to put the Marlies ahead 2-1 before Trevor Moore added an empty netter.

The teams traded power-play goals in the second period after a scoreless first.

Johnsson opened the scoring at 2:24 while on a five-on-three advantage only for Travis Sanheim to respond for the Phantoms while a man up at 13:11.

Sanheim’s goal snapped the Phantom’s scoring drought of 118 minutes 58 seconds, with Lehigh Valley’s last goal coming at 5:12 of the third period in Game 2.

Garret Sparks made 19 saves for the win as Lyon stopped 26-of-28 shots for the Philadelphia Flyers’ AHL affiliate.

The Marlies found themselves in a must-win situation against the Utica Comets in the first round, but have been on cruise control since beating the Comets in Game 5 to take the best-of-five series 3-2.

They swept the Syracuse Crunch 4-0 in Round 2 before sweeping the Phantoms in four straight to capture the Eastern Conference title for the first time since 2012.

The 2012 Marlies, coached by Dallas Eakins, were swept by Jon Cooper’s Norfolk Admirals in the Calder Cup final. Mike Zigomanis was Toronto’s leading scorer that year, while Nazem Kadri was in his second pro season. The Admirals, who at the time were the Tampa Bay Lightning’s farm team, went on to produce forwards Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Alex Killorn.
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