WINNIPEG – Connor Hellebuyck’s shutout streak came to an end but the Manitoba Moose hung on for a 3-2 victory over the Stockton Heat on Wednesday at MTS Centre.
Hellebuyck came within eight minutes of setting the Moose franchise record for consecutive shutout minutes. His streak ended at 169:34 after more than eight straight periods of shutout hockey. Tyler Moss holds the franchise record of 177:32 set back in 2003. Hellebuyck finished the game with 19 saves.
Jake Baker, Darren Kramer and John Albert scored goals for the Moose. Mitchell Heard and Kenny Agostino replied for the Heat in a losing cause.
With all the injuries and Jets call ups the Moose have inserted five new players into the lineup in recent weeks, but it hasn’t seemed to affect the team’s chemistry.
“Very impressed with the new guys that have come in and learnt the structure that we’ve tried to implement at a real fast pace.” said head coach Keith McCambridge. “It’s important making sure that your start is strong and getting that first goal and I thought we did a good job of doing that tonight.”
The Moose outshot Stockton 25-21. The Moose had the lead in shots 11-2 at one point during the first period. They built up an early three goal lead but the Heat roared back to make a game of it.
“Teams push back. That’s the game of hockey.” John Albert said. “I think we did a good job of weathering the storm and obviously did the job in the end.”
Just two minutes into the game Albert came cruising in on a shorthanded breakaway. He attempted to tuck in the backhand but Kevin Poulin slammed the five-hole shut to keep it zero-zero.
Midway through the first Ryan Olsen made a thunderous check in the corner and was sent off for boarding. Almost immediately after stepping out of the penalty box Olsen answered the bell and squared off with Heard. Heard received the extra minor penalty.
On the ensuing powerplay, Baker from the top of the circle, wired a slap shot past Poulin. Baker’s first career AHL goal was assisted by Brenden Kichton and Brant Harris.
The Moose added to their lead midway through the middle period. Aaron Harstad wound up from the blueline and his shot was tipped in by Kramer parked at the edge of the crease. Ben Walker drew the other assist on Kramer’s sixth goal of the season and the Moose had a two goal lead.
With just 13.6 seconds left in the second frame, Andrew MacWilliam’s shot broke a defenders stick. The puck ricocheted right to Albert and he potted his 12th goal of the season. The Moose had a three goal cushion heading to period three after outshooting the Heat 21-11.
Hellebuyck’s shutout streak ended 8:20 into the final frame. Heard fanned on the initial shot but then beat Hellebuyck to make it a 3-1 game.
Just a minute later Drew Shore carried into the zone and sent a centring pass in front for Agostino and he whacked the puck past Hellebuyck. It was his 19th goal of the season and suddenly the lead was cut to one but that would close out the scoring.
Tyson Wilson and Justin Breton made their Moose debut after signing with the team earlier in the day.
The Moose have two games remaining on the homestand, Saturday and Monday against the Charlotte Checkers.
WATCH: Moose head coach Keith McCambridge reacts following the win over Stockton
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