TORONTO - Jason Jaffray's hot hand helped the Manitoba Moose claim victory in the all-important swing game.
Jaffray scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner with just under 10 minutes left in the contest, to lead Manitoba to a 5-2 win over the Toronto Marlies in Game 5 of the teams' AHL North Division semifinal series on Thursday night.
The Moose now head back to Winnipeg with a 3-2 series advantage and two chances to close out the Marlies on home ice, beginning Saturday night with Game 6.
Jaffray leads all goal-scorers in the series with five tallies.
Jason Krog was also a big offensive contributor for the Moose, notching two goals and an assist, while Cory Schneider turned aside 38 shots for Manitoba.
Krog's second goal came with just seven minutes remaining in the game and provided a two-goal cushion for Manitoba. It was an odd scoring play as the centre simply put the puck toward the middle of the ice from the corner, only to have it carom off a Marlies defender near the crease and past goalie Justin Pogge.
Toronto, which got goals from Darryl Boyce and Anton Stralman, was never able to claw back into the game after that.
Guillaume Desbiens, who had a goal and two assists, potted the game's final tally with less than five minutes remaining to send the Ricoh Coliseum crowd of 2,416 home unhappy.
The game was tied 2-2 and up for grabs entering the final 20 minutes after the teams exchanged late goals in the second.
After flashing the glove to deny Boyce on a breakaway and Ryan Hamilton on a two-on-one, Schneider's glove hand failed him in the dying minutes of the second period, allowing Toronto to momentarily take the lead. The goalie couldn't squeeze a long point shot from Jamie Sifers and the puck dropped right on to the stick of Boyce, who banged it in from the side of the net with just over two minutes left in the period.
But instead of taking a one-goal lead into the third, Toronto's defensive zone coverage broke down and Krog answered back 46 seconds later when he was left alone in front of Pogge. After taking a pass from Desbiens from the opposite point, Krog quickly deked to his backhand and stuffed the puck into the corner of the net.
Just like the second frame, the first period featured a late goal that tied the proceedings. That came when Stralman picked off a poor clearing attempt by Krog and fired a low, hard shot that eluded Schneider with just 54 seconds left in the opening period.
Jaffray got the game's first goal when he snapped a shot past Pogge six seconds into a Manitoba power play just over six minutes into the first period.
Notes: Left-winger Viktor Stalberg, 23, picked up an assist in his first pro game after signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs following his junior year at the University of Vermont. . . Pogge took his third minor penalty of the series in Game 5.