TORONTO - Troy Bodie's late game-winner capped a huge third-period comeback for the Toronto Marlies, but much of the inspiration for the win came in the closing stages of the second when the team lost starting goalie James Reimer.
Trailing the Binghamton Senators by three goals entering the final period, the Marlies rattled off four unanswered goals for a 5-4 win in American Hockey League action Friday night.
Bodie tipped in a point shot from Josh Engel with just over a minute to go, breaking a 4-4 tie and sending the Ricoh Coliseum crowd of 3,314 into a frenzy.
"It's a 60-minute game. That's the deal here," said Toronto coach Dallas Eakins. "We didn't come out the way we wanted and we had to fight through a few different things out there, but in the end our guys stuck with our game plan, executed and we get the two points."
The line of captain Ben Ondrus between Ryan Hamilton and Andre Deveaux was especially effective for Toronto. Ondrus potted two goals and an assist, Hamilton had one of each and Deveaux contributed three assists.
"Those are three veteran guys, I'm so comfortable putting them on the ice, they all have great work ethics, Deveaux's got some good hands on him and he's a big body and he was able to get rewarded with some points tonight," Eakins said.
Binghamton (10-9-3) initially took control of the contest during an eventful second period, which started with the Senators up 1-0 on Derek Smith's first-period goal. After goals from Martin St-Pierre and Kaspars Daugavins put the Sens up 3-0 midway through the game, Ondrus seemed to start the comeback train for Toronto by beating Binghamton goalie Andy Chiodo with a weak shot from a bad angle.
But Binghamton restored its three-goal lead on a play that started with Reimer colliding with Senators defenceman Paul Baier and concluded with Josh Hennessy depositing the puck into an open net.
Reimer came charging out of his crease to play a loose puck that was drifting slowly into the Marlies zone. Baier, fresh out of the penalty box, chased after it and inadvertently smacked into Reimer directly on top of the right faceoff circle.
Toronto defenceman Phil Oreskovic immediately came to his goalie's aide, engaging Baier in a physical confrontation. But while Oreskovic was seeking redemption on his teammate's behalf, Hennessy scooped up the loose puck and fired it into the net.
There was no penalty on the play, save for the ensuing fighting majors to Oreskovic and Baier.
Reimer, meanwhile, stayed on the ice for a while before opting to remain in the game. However, after making a routine save just minutes later, he was slow to get back on his feet and was replaced by Adam Munro.
Eakins believed the play shook up his team.
"It really pissed us off, is what happened," said Eakins, adding while he didn't think there necessarily should have been a penalty, he believed the play should have been blown dead because Reimer's helmet came clean off his head.
"It ignited me and then it ignited our bench."
The Marlies (10-7-3) went to work quickly in the third as Hamilton chipped a loose puck home just 57 seconds into the period to get the ball rolling.
Then, with his team short-handed, Ondrus took a pass from Viktor Stalberg while streaking to the net and squeezed the puck past Chiodo. That made it a one-goal game with just over six minutes to play.
With all the momentum firmly on their side, the Marlies tied things up when Jiri Tlusty took a pass in slot and fired a wrist shot to the top corner.
That set the stage for Bodie's decisive marker.
A big third period on the heels of a sloppy second is nothing new for Toronto - the Marlies have been outscored 33-11 in the second this season, but have turned the tables by scoring 25 third-period goals to their opponents' 11.
Ondrus was at a loss when it came to explaining the discrepancy.
"I've been asked that question a million times and I don't have an answer," he said.
As for Reimer's status, Eakins said he wasn't sure as to the extent of his goalie's injury, but believed it was related to his ankle.
NOTES: Marlies defenceman Juraj Mikus had his three-game point streak snapped. . . Forward Tyler Bozak missed the game with an undisclosed injury. . . Toronto hosts the Houston Aeros tomorrow in the fifth game of a six-game homestand.