WINNIPEG – As he watched his team struggle against the Manitoba Moose, Toronto Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins shrugged off the bad feeling in his belly and left his forward line combination unchanged.
He should have gone with his gut. The Moose downed the Marlies 5-1 Friday night. “It’s a lesson learned for me – that your initial instinct is usually the right one and I should have acted on it,” he said.
The Moose’s Marco Rosa and Michael Grabner both scored a pair of goals as the Marlies struggled to get past Manitoba goaltender Cory Schneider.
Toronto who was 0-10 on the power play, dropped to 19-24-11 and face their North Division rivals again Saturday night.
Rosa got the only first-period goal on a low backhand shot he slid behind Marlies goalie Joey MacDonald at 12:34.
Moose defenceman Lawrence Nycholat made it 2-0 at 2:55 of the second frame.
Grabner then scored the first of his two goals in a second period that featured three straight Manitoba goals as the team boosted its American Hockey League record to 26-22-6. His production snapped a 14-game goal-less drought.
Rosa scored his 16th of the season four minutes later on the power play to go up 4-0. Manitoba was 2-5 with the man advantage.
Toronto finally got past Schneider when winger Alex Berry shot the puck behind the netminder at 18:08 to close out the second-period’s scoring.
After skaters from both sides paired up to throw some heavy-duty punches late in the third period, Grabner scored his second of the night on the power play at 17:37.
Manitoba head coach Scott Arniel was pleased his team’s work on special teams paid off, especially on the penalty kill.
“When you get the kill, let alone have 10 power plays against you, but to kill them all off, that’s a tip of our hats to our penalty killers and obviously our goaltender as well,” Arniel said.
Manitoba outshot Toronto 33-26.
Notes: Eakins said Marlies defenceman Keith Aulie may have a separated shoulder after being tripped into the board by Grabner in the third period.