The Manitoba Moose are back to a sub .500 record. And it didn’t take too long.
After beginning the season with two losses at home to the Toronto Marlies, the Moose have now lost another game to their Ontario-based Canadian Division rival. Rebounding from the back-to-back season-opening losses with four-straight victories, Manitoba has since travelled east, to which its luck took a turn south.
After winning the opening two contests of a four-game mini-series with the Laval Rocket, Manitoba has since dropped the final two games of that set, which brought its record back to an even 4-4-0 in advance of its Monday night battle with Toronto at Coca-Cola Coliseum.
Much like that of their NHL affiliate Winnipeg Jets, the Moose fell behind their opponent with back-to-back opening period strikes on Monday. Manitoba, however, was able to battle back against the Marlies, where as the Jets were ultimately shut out by the Vancouver Canucks shortly after the Moose game concluded.
For Manitoba, it was a poor start, followed but a strong finish. However, it wasn’t enough, as the road team walked away with a 4-2 loss in a game closer than the final score indicated. With the Marlies adding an empty-net marker late in the game, it was really a one-goal game, with a two-shot advantage going to Toronto.
“The first period wasn’t what we wanted, we weren’t in the game,” Luoto said post-game. “Our legs weren’t moving and they scored a couple on us. It wasn’t the perfect start but as the game went on we were better and in third period we were dominating the ice, able to score a couple but it was a tough one.”
With a number of minor penalties handed out, neither team managed to do much with their numerous man advantages. The Moose went 0/6, while the Marlies struck once on four opportunities.
Toronto scored twice in 1:13 of the first period, with Nick Robertson picking up points on both tallies. The Marlies then added a third goal to their lead in the only goal scored in the middle stanza. Manitoba wasted little time, scoring just three minutes into the third period, before adding another nine minutes later. But with Mikhail Berdin on the bench for the extra attacker, the Marlies found an empty net goal, sealing the deal 4-2.
Jeff Mallot and Joona Luoto found the twine for the Moose, with Nathan Todd earning the primary assist on Mallot’s third of the season. With the assist, Todd extended his point streak to eight games (four goals, six assists). Manitoba is now sitting at 4-5-0 on the season, while Toronto is up 5-4-0 through its first nine games.
“I think his conditioning is really good,” Moose head coach Pascal Vincent said of Todd’s play. “I think he has the confidence now that he can make plays. That he can contribute offensively and he can make plays. That’s all confidence.”
The teams will renew acquaintances on Wednesday in the second of two-straight games between the Moose and Marlies. The game features a 6:00 PM puck drop and can be seen live on AHL TV.