WINNIPEG (CP) - Despite a knee injury that sidelined him for over a month, Manitoba Moose netminder Wade Flaherty was unusually matter-of-fact after he rang up his second shutout of the season on Friday.
"I don't think I was necessarily extra-sharp tonight," he said. "Out of their 30-or-so shots, many of them were on the power play. We ran into some discipline problems and we gave them the opportunity to get right back into it."
Flaherty stopped 31 drives to lead the Moose to a 3-0 victory over the Toronto Marlies in American Hockey League action.
"I know I haven't lost in regulation since December 6th," he said, acknowledging that he has been on a hot streak as of late. "That's 13 games. Yeah, the numbers are nice to have, but at the end of the day it's all in wins and losses though."
Manitoba Head Coach Scott Arniel didn't hesitate to put a positive spin on the five-week absence of his regenerated veteran netminder.
"Sometimes those injuries are blessings in disguise as long as the injury doesn't linger," said Arniel. "For Wade it was a time to refresh, recondition and watch some games, get hungry again and spend lots of time with Rick (goalie coach Rick St. Croix).
"It worked out well for us because Mac (Drew MacIntyre) was so good while Wade was away, so Wade got to rehab and we didn't have to rush him back."
Marlies' defenceman David Cloutier conceded that the Marlies power play has been a problem of late.
"It's been a big problem this year for us. The special teams are very important. We're trying too hard with the pretty plays when all you have to do is keep it simple," he said.
Toronto Head Coach Greg Gilbert echoed the disappoint with his team's power play, who went 0-8.
"At times guys have their own agenda. They're not moving the puck quick enough," he said. "We talked about it this morning and here we were fumbling pucks, and when you do it on the power play you're going to get pressed and guys start to panic."
Lee Goren scored the game winner, Brad Moran added his 20th of the season, and J.J. Hunter rounded out the scoring for Manitoba. Justin Pogge blocked 22 shots for Toronto.
With the victory the Moose move into sole possession of first place in the North Division with a 33-17-7-4 record. With 77 points, Manitoba is two ahead of Rochester and three ahead of Hamilton, which lost to Milwaukee 3-2 in a shootout.