WINNIPEG – The Toronto Marlies have given the Manitoba Moose fits this season and Friday was no different. The Marlies defeated the Moose for the fifth time this season, posting a 3-0 win at MTS Centre. But it was a much closer result for the Moose who were beaten by the AHL leading Marlies 9-0 earlier this season and had been outscored 19-6 in the previous four contests.
“I thought our first period was real strong.” Moose head coach Keith McCambridge said. “I thought we managed the puck really well in all three zones, I thought our possession was strong. We made smart decisions with and without the puck. That was obviously a focus of ours going into this game. We know Toronto is a good team. I thought the second period was a false sense of where we actually sat. I thought we played outside our limitations. Some habits crept back with turning over pucks against a very dangerous team and all of a sudden they get momentum back on their side.”
The Moose registered the first 11 shots of the game but then took three minor penalties in the second period against the league’s second highest scoring team.
“I liked our first period, I hated our second and third.” Moose defenceman Brenden Kichton said. “I thought we just chased the puck. We didn’t have any sustained pressure. Just played in the D-zone for the whole second and third and that’s really not going to cut it.”
Josh Leivo, Stuart Percy and Ryan Rupert scored goals for Toronto while Rob Madore made 26 saves for the shutout.
“For the most part we played pretty good.” Moose captain John Albert said. “I think we had a couple stupid penalties that kinda lost a little momentum. And right there in the second period I think we let up a little bit, I think maybe due to the penalties we took. I mean we were in the game all the way to the end, it was just one shot away so we can’t get too down on ourselves.”
Eric Comrie stopped 23 of 25 shots in making his 11th consecutive start.
The Marlies played without highly touted injured forward William Nylander and forward Kasperi Kapanen who has yet to re-join the team after scoring the golden goal for Finland in the World Junior Hockey Championships gold medal game.
Recently sent down from the Winnipeg Jets Matt Halischuk had the best chance in the early going. Halischuk was left all alone in the slot, he tried to out wait Madore but was denied to keep the game scoreless.
In the late stages of the first period Matt Frattin snuck in behind the Moose defence and tried to tuck it around Comrie but hit the side of the net. The play was fairly even in a scoreless first period but the Moose outshot the Marlies 13-5.
It was mostly an uneventful middle frame but with exactly four minutes left in the second period T.J. Brennan setup Leivo along the sideboards and he deposited the one timer over the shoulder of Comrie. His 10th goal of the season gave the Marlies a one goal advantage headed to the third.
The Moose came close to getting the equalizer midway through the final frame. A streaking Patrice Cormier cut in from the wing but couldn’t slide the one handed shot around Madore.
Manitoba would get a few more chances to tie it up before Percy removed any doubt with 2:19 remaining. Percy picked the top corner from the blueline to extend the Marlies lead.
Then with 98 seconds to go Rupert found the empty net to give the Marlies a 3-0 victory.
Nic Petan and Jan Kostalek returned to the lineup for the Moose after they were healthy scratches last game for showing up late for practice.
The Moose get another crack at the Marlies on Saturday hoping the sixth time is the charm with puck drop set for 7:00pm.
WATCH: Head Coach Keith McCambridge and Moose players discuss a 3-0 loss to the Toronto Marlies on Friday.