Rookie forward Michael Leveille’s first pro goal proved to be the winner and goalie Todd Ford stopped 29 shots to lead the Marlies to a 4-2 victory over the Moose in AHL action Saturday afternoon.
The Marlies’ win over the Moose was their first this season in eight games.
“We had a few guys who didn’t play well, but I’ll tell you today everybody contributed and worked their backsides off,” Marlies head coach Greg Gilbert said.
John Mitchell, Brett Engelhardt, and Alexander Suglobov also scored for Toronto (33-39-2-5).
Mike Brown and Michael Grabner replied for Manitoba (45-23-7-5).
Ford, playing in his fourth game with the Marlies, was at his best when Manitoba was pressing in the third period.
“I was impressed with myself and I thought the guys played very well in front of me,” Ford said. “They got the rebounds out of there for me and gave me the outside shots. It was a great team effort.”
Added Gilbert: “He played really well. He also won a big game in Hamilton for us a few months back. It’s a real good showing for him and he did a great job.”
Dov Grumet-Morris, a college star at Harvard University also making his fourth start, made 16 saves for Manitoba.
Moose coach Scott Arniel was not pleased with his playoff-bound team’s effort.
“I felt that was a real sloppy game on both sides,” he said. “It was one of those funny games with pucks bouncing every which way. Real loose play and it obviously didn’t turn out the way we wanted.”
The Marlies opened the scoring at 2:29 when Mitchell snapped a wrist shot from a sharp angle and the puck sailed over a surprised Grumet-Morris’s blocker.
It took until the 14:25 mark of the close-checking contest for the Moose to register their first shot on goal, by defenceman Alex Edler when Toronto’s Tyson Nash was sent off for hooking. Toronto was assessed all three first-period penalties.
With less than two minutes remaining in the period, Engelhardt, standing directly in front of the crease, re-directed Staffan Kronwall’s shot from the left faceoff-circle staking the visitors to a 2-0 lead going into the second.
The Marlies extended their lead to 3-0 midway through the second when Leveille stole the puck from Moose defenceman Dustin Wood at his own blue-line, turned and skated right in on goal beating Grumet-Morris with a high shot.
Leveille, a forward signed as a free agent on April 12th, recorded his first pro goal in his second game with the Marlies. The former college skater spent four years at the University of Maine and was twice voted to the first all-star team.
The Moose finally broke through at 14:53 when Brown outraced defenceman Jay Harrison for the puck and fired the puck on Ford’s short side to narrow the gap to 3-1.
Toronto got that one back with about six minutes remaining in the game when Suglobov wristed a rising shot over the Moose netminder’s outstretched glove.
With eight seconds remaining in the game, Manitoba’s Grabner, the Canucks first-round pick in last year’s draft, playing in his second pro game, rounded out the scoring.