WINNIPEG – Tom Sestito was hoping to catch his coach’s eye, and he picked a good way to do it.
Sestito scored 11 minutes into overtime to lift the Syracuse Crunch to a 2-1 win over the Manitoba Moose in American Hockey League playoff action Tuesday. The Crunch have a 2-1 lead over the Moose in the first-round series. Sestito managed to get his stick on defenceman Brett Motherwell’s blue-line drive and redirected it past Cory Schneider for the game winner.
“I was trying to stir up things out there and get things started,” Sestito said. “I hope it gets me more ice time.”
Syracuse head coach Ross Yates certainly took notice.
“Tommy was all over the ice and creating chances,” he said.
Zenon Konopka added a goal and an assist for Syracuse, while Michael Grabner replied for Manitoba.
Both Crunch goaltender Karl Goehring and Schneider were outstanding, with Manitoba outshooting Syracuse 36-30.
All three games in the North Division best-of-seven semifinal have now gone into overtime. Games 4 and 5 will also be played at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg on Friday and Saturday with Games 6 and 7, if necessary, in Syracuse.
Moose head coach Scott Arniel didn’t like his team’s approach to the game.
“We were much too loose,” Arniel said. “We ended up extending a few of our shifts and were getting caught. We had a ton of chances to win the game. It was ours for the taking.
“We weren’t as sharp as we needed to be.”
“We didn’t play our best game, we let it slip away,” he said. “We’ve got to get back to our system or we can’t beat this team. We didn’t shoot the puck enough and we tried to be too fancy.
“We play well on the road and now we have to bring that game home.”
The Crunch and Moose played a scoreless first period as both teams were 0-for-2 on the power play. Manitoba outshot Syracuse 12-9 with few good scoring opportunities and a multitude of blocked shots on both sides.
Manitoba winger Grabner opened the scoring at 12:19 of the second period with his second goal of the series. Moose forward Jannik Hansen raced in on a breakaway, fired the puck over the net and hit the glass. The puck then bounced off the glass and bounced into the crease and Grabner jammed it past Goehring.
The lead was short-lived as Konopka,standing off to the side of the crease, shot the puck in off Moose forward Rick Rypien at 16:37 to tie the game 1-1 going into the third period.
From that juncture the teams played tentatively sending passes along the boards and chipping the puck out into neutral ice.
Veteran NHLer Mike Keane, in his 20th season of pro hockey, was a tower of strength in the penalty-killing department for the Moose. In regulation time both teams were 0-for-6 on the power play.