TORONTO – The Toronto Marlies gave Manitoba an opening with their undisciplined play Tuesday night, and the Moose took full advantage.
The Marlies’ parade to the penalty box led to three Manitoba power-play goals and a 5-1 win over Toronto to knot their American Hockey League North Division semifinal series 2-2.
After going 0-for-6 with the man advantage in a Game 3 loss, Moose coach Scott Arniel said it was important his team did a better job of cashing their chances.
“That’s the thing, if the other team is going to try and take liberties, if you don’t make them pay on the power play they can continue to do it,” he said.
“We went 0-for-6 in here the other night. We didn’t make them pay when we had the opportunities. Tonight we did and that gets teams on their heals.”
Toronto coach Greg Gilbert said his players handed the Moose chance after chance.
“We were undisciplined, we played an undisciplined style and took undisciplined penalties. They took it to us and they took it to us good.”
The game-winning goal was a perfect example. With Toronto’s Andre Deveaux in the box thanks to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, Manitoba’s Maxime Fortunus broke a 1-1 tie midway through the second.
Deveaux, who also took an unsportsmanlike penalty in the first period, got just one shift the rest of the game.
“I didn’t say anything to him,” said Gilbert when asked if he spoke to Deveaux between periods. “I think the message was sent cause he hardly touched the ice the rest of the game. We can’t afford to have people in the lineup and playing that are going to take undisciplined penalties and put us in positions that will help the opposition.”
The offensive outburst finally marked some success for the Moose against Toronto goalie Justin Pogge, who was solid through the first three games of the series, and came in with a 7-1 record in his last eight games against Manitoba.
Jason Jaffray, who scored his series-leading third goal in the win, was happy to see his team get to Pogge.
“We’ve gone over video cause he’s really had our number all season and I know one game doesn’t mean a whole lot, but when a lot of guys get rid of that zero in their goal column, it’s going to create some confidence,” said Jaffray.
“Hopefully it floats over to Game 5.”
Jaffray, Fortunus and Mark Fistric each had a goal and an assist for Manitoba. Greg Rallo and Mark Cullen notched third-period goals to put the game away for the Moose in front of 2,258 fans at the Ricoh Coliseum.
Bates Battaglia had Toronto’s lone goal as Cory Schneider stopped 20 shots in the win.
With Manitoba up 3-1 in the third, Rallo converted a pass from Dusty Collins, tipping the puck high over Pogge’s glove.
The goal came off a turnover by Toronto’s Jeremy Williams. The Marlies winger then cross-checked Rallo as he celebrated.
The ensuing penalty, coupled with a minor to Toronto’s Phil Oreskovic for trying to pick a fight with Raymond Sawada, helped Cullen score Manitoba’s fifth goal just after the five-on-three power play expired.
After a spirited but scoreless first period, things opened up with four second-period goals, three of which came on the power play.
Fistric got the ball rolling 3:18 into the frame when his floater from the point on a Manitoba man advantage got past a screened Pogge and found the top corner.
Just moments earlier, Toronto’s Ben Ondrus had a chance to put the puck deep and get a line change, but he failed to do so, the Marlies got pinned in their zone and ultimately fell behind 1-0.
Toronto pulled even on a power play of its own when Battaglia, standing right in front of Schneider, tracked a loose puck and quickly swept it into the side of the net.
But just when things were improving for the Marlies, Deveaux was nailed for his unsportsmanlike call and Fortunus put Manitoba up for good with a shot from the point just two minutes after the Marlies drew even.
The only even strength goal of the period came with 29 seconds left. After Toronto failed to clear its zone, Matt Pope slid a quick pass to the middle of the ice and Jaffray buried a wrist shot under the crossbar on Pogge’s stick side.
“We executed well tonight,” Jaffray said. “We came out with a game plan; I don’t know why it seems like we play so much better when our back is against he wall, but we came out with a lot of energy and obviously our specialty teams, our power play really won the game for us tonight.”
Notes: Game 5 is Thursday night in Toronto. … The teams return to Winnipeg for Game 6 Saturday night. … Manitoba’s Michael Grabner left the game briefly after crashing hard into the end boards in the second, but returned. … Defenceman Jonas Frogren, who played all season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, suited up for his first game of the year with the Marlies after recovering from a knee injury.