Don’t know who those other guys were in Game 3 of the North Division semi-final but safe to say the Manitoba Moose are back.
The Moose trounced the Toronto Marlies 5-1 Tuesday night in what might be described as a workmanlike pistol-whipping. The series is tied 2-2 with only one game, Thursday, left in Toronto. Games 6 and, if necessary 7, will be played in Winnipeg.
Manitoba outshot the Marlies 34-21.
Along the way they punctured the aura of invincibility of Marlies goalie Justin Pogge with a couple of goals coach Greg Gilbert felt were gettable.
“I think you have to get the ones that go through you,” Gilbert said. “I think there was a couple of those. A couple of other ones we hung him out to dry."
“This was finally getting rewarded for the work we’ve been doing in the first three games,” said Moose coach Scott Arniel. “Our guys have been battling. Pogge has been battling. Tonight those pucks went in where the last few games they haven’t.”
Down 3-1 in the third, the Marlies appeared to have crept within one when a puck went in off the skate of Ben Ondrus. Officials instead ruled the puck had been kicked in behind Manitoba goalie Cory Schneider. That hurt.
Mostly, the Moose capitalized on a terribly undisciplined Toronto team. The score was tied 1-1 in the second when Andre Deveaux took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. It took the Moose just 30 seconds to turn the break into a goal. The sequence prompted Gilbert to nail Deveaux’s backside to the bench for most of the game.
Gilbert was asked what he said to Deveaux.
“I think the message was sent because he hardly touched the ice the rest of the game,” he said.
Jeremy Williams took a slashing penalty, wait for it, while the Moose celebrated their fourth goal. The Moose garnered their fifth goal when Marlies defenceman Phil Oreskovic was goaded into an incredibly foolish unsportsmanlike penalty after Raymond Sawada refused to fight him. Three of Manitoba's five goals came with the man advantage.
Mark Fistic, Maxime Fortunus, Jason Jaffray, Greg Rallo and Mark Cullen scored for Manitoba. Bates Battaglia was the sole Toronto marksman.
The Marlies were guilty of countless turnovers as the Moose calmly waited for mistakes.
“They were very content in sitting back,” said Marlies forward Darryl Boyce. “They were ready to play New Jersey Devils style hockey and grind out a win. They took advantage of us running a little too high on emotion.”
With Games 6 and 7 in Winnipeg, winning Thursday’s game becomes something a little bit more than essential for the Marlies.
“We know Game 6 and if necessary 7, we’ve got to come out with everything we’ve got,” said Boyce.
The loss may well prompt Gilbert to shuffle the lineup. Viktor Stalberg, signed by the Leafs after his third year the University of Vermont, will likely warrant a look. He has been taking the warmup with the Marlies.
“We might have one or two guys that are banged up,” he said. “There’s a possibility there might be one or two guys in. Viktor is something to think about. Alex Berry has played a couple of games too.”