WINNIPEG - Moose head coach Scott Arniel had little difficulty finding positives about his club in their final regular-season home game.
"We had a great first period," Arniel said after center Greg Rallo fired a pair of goals to spark Manitoba to a 6-0 victory over the Toronto Marlies in AHL action Saturday night. "Scoring three goals early set them back on their heels."
"I'm proud of the guys who had to play eight games in 12 days. We did a good job in the third being patient. I was also proud of the guys because of the way they buckled down in the final period to help Cory (Schneider) get his shutout."
Goalie Cory Schneider recorded his third shutout of the season.
Colby Genoway added a goal and a pair of assists and Mike Brown, Pierre-Cedric-La Brie and Jannik Hansen also scored for Manitoba. With Justin Pogge in the nets for Toronto, the Marlies outshot the Moose 29-26.
The Moose victory gives the team a six-point lead over third place Syracuse Crunch in a battle for home advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Schneider suggested that having to still compete with Syracuse for second place in the North Division gave Manitoba some incentive.
"It keeps us sharp whereas Toronto really doesn't have as much to play for," he said. "Now we have to go on the road and finish off our last three games and hopefully clinch second."
With a large crowd of 13,520 looking on for Manitoba's final regular season home game, the Moose came out with intensity and purpose and were ahead 3-0 by 11:13 of the opening period.
At 3:52 Genoway raced to the edge of the Marlies' crease and converted a Pierre-Cedric Labrie pass from the left boards.
Four minutes later Rallo corralled a centring pass from Alexandre Bolduc from close in and gave Manitoba a two goal lead and finally Genoway intercepted an attempted clearing pass from the stick of Toronto defenceman Andy Wozniewski and set up Rallo for his second goal of the game.
Manitoba increased its' lead to 4-0 after Brown took a perfect centering pass from defenceman Shaun Heshka and and redirected the puck past Pogge low to the far corner.
Hansen increased the lead on the power play after taking a behind-the-net pass from Brad Moran at 1:01 of the third. The man advantage resulted following a senseless penalty for slashing by Ben Ondrus at 20 minutes of the second which typified the frustration of the Marlies who now trail in the season series with Manitoba 4-3.
Labrie round out the scoring with only 64 seconds remaining in the game.