WINNIPEG - Manitoba Moose head coach Scott Arniel challenged his players earlier this week and they didn't disappoint him Saturday.
Eric Walsky scored the shootout winner as the Moose downed the Toronto Marlies 2-1 in American Hockey League action. The victory went along with Friday's 5-1 Manitoba win, marking only the second time the Moose have won back-to-back games this season since Oct. 9 and 10 against Chicago.
"That's big for us," Arniel said. "We talked about it (Saturday) morning, that we didn't want to win one, lose one.
"We wanted to get that good feeling against a North Division opponent of taking four points from them and pushing them farther down below us and gaining ground on people that are above us."
Manitoba (10-9-2) had lost five straight going into the games against Toronto.
"I challenged these guys to be better, to do a better job with it," Arniel said.
"I thought everything that we worked on this week, we threw it (at them) and we actually got involved in these games. I've got to credit these guys for really doing a good job against a very physical Toronto team."
Moose goalie Cory Schneider stopped 20 shots in front 9,171 fans at MTS Centre. It was his second straight win since returning earlier in the week from the NHL's Vancouver Canucks.
Toronto netminder James Reimer turned away 34 shots in his fifth start of the season. The Marlies (6-5-3) are winless in their last three games.
Reimer, 21, was born in Morweena, Man., a small town just outside of Winnipeg.
He had family, friends and more than 100 minor-league hockey players from nearby Arbourg cheering him on.
"I thought I played all right, but it really doesn't come down to how many saves you make or how you played personally if you don't get the win," Reimer said.
Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins said Reimer played "excellent," but added that the team's play deteriorated after the first period.
"Obviously it's a disappointing weekend for us and we'll get right back and work on some things early next week," Eakins said.
In a first period that saw a total of nine shots, Toronto hit the scoresheet first at 18:10 when Tyler Bozak took a pass from Brennan Evans and beat Schneider.
Moose forward Sergei Shirokov tied the game at 14:24 of the second after flipping in a rebound past Reimer.
The second-biggest cheer of the period was for a fight between Toronto forward Jay Rosehill and Manitoba defenceman Nathan McIver.
Manitoba had its sixth power play of the game with just under nine minutes left in the third, but Reimer made a couple of great saves to keep the score tied.
Both teams went 0-for-6 with the man advantage.
Each team had scored once in the shootout before Walsky put away the winner.
Manitoba hosts Hamilton next weekend, while Toronto travels to play Adirondack on Wednesday and Lake Erie on Friday.