Manitoba’s rally not enough as Houston forces Game 6 with 4-3 OT win

HOUSTON – Tony Hrkac scored his second goal of the night 4:19 into the second overtime period as the Houston Aeros beat the Manitoba Moose 4-3 to avoid elimination in the American Hockey League Western Conference final for the second straight game Friday.

Manitoba still leads the best-of-seven series 3-2, with Game 6 set for Winnipeg on Monday.

With the Aeros leading 3-1 late in the third, Manitoba fought back to tie game and force overtime with two goals in the final 22 seconds of regulation.

Jason Krog scored on the power play at the 19:38 of the third to cut the Houston lead to 3-2 before Mark Cullen sent the game to overtime with a game-tying goal at 19:58.

After a scoreless first overtime period, Hrkac wired a shot over Manitoba goaltender Curtis Sanford’s shoulder for the win.

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Houston, which also avoided elimination in Game 4 with a 5-4 overtime win, jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the game was five minutes old.

Maxim Noreau opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 2:56 of the first. Hrkac doubled the Houston lead with his first of the night at 4:22.

Matt Beaudoin stretched the Aeros lead to 3-0 at 17:34 of the second. Manitoba replaced goaltender Cory Schneider with Sanford to start the third period.

The moved seemed to spark the Moose.

Michael Grabner got Manitoba on the board with a power-play goal at the 2:29 mark before Krog and Cullen struck late to force overtime.

Houston netminder Matt Climie made 45 saves in the Aeros net. Schneider made just 16 stops for Manitoba before getting the hook. Sanford stopped 22 shots in the third period and overtime.