Preview: Moose at Grand Rapids – Jan. 11By: Daniel Fink | Published: January 11th 2020
The Moose look to avoid a fourth straight road loss, and third straight defeat overall, tonight when they rematch with the Grand Rapids Griffins. Last night’s contest saw the Griffins hold off the Moose in a 1-0 Grand Rapids victory.
Chris Terry scored the lone goal of the hockey game 13:37 into the first period. The goal was contentious as the Moose were irate that Terry had pushed Eric Comrie’s pad across the line to score the goal. The stood and would hold up as the winner. The Moose got off to a slow start, but Comrie stopped 16 of 17 in the opening period. Manitoba clamped down defensively after that, allowing just 11 shots the rest of the way. The Moose had their chances to tie the game, but Calvin Pickard came up with a multitude of big stops including a larcenous glove save on Seth Griffith in the second period and a last second toe save to prevent Michael Spacek’s would-be tying rocket.
“It’s always a tough place to come in here and have a good start in the first period. They always come out strong and they’ve had a good team here for a long time. We’ve grown to kind of expect that,” said forward Ryan White following the loss. “(Comrie) stood on his head there and made some big saves to keep us in the game and that’s what we need. I think the guys did a good job in the second and third. We got our legs going and started playing better. Just couldn’t put one in.”
The Moose loss, coupled with the Grand Rapids victory and Texas picking up two points by forfeit, the three teams tied with 36 points. They all sit one point back of the Rockford IceHogs for the final playoff spot in the Central Division. It certainly looks like the teams are setting up for an absolute battle down the stretch. The Moose can push themselves back out in front of at least the Griffins with a win this evening. With some help they could land themselves back in a playoff spot despite the two losses to start the road swing.
Manitoba needs to find an answer for its current offensive power outage. The Moose have tallied five goals over their last four games, with four of those coming in one game. The team has dropped two 1-0 decisions during that time. Getting rolling on the power play could certainly help that cause. The Moose are 1/8 (12.5%) over that span. Part of that is giving the league’s sixth-ranked power play some chances to work, averaging just two power plays per game. The addition of Logan Shaw will also be a boon to the goal column. Shaw finished tied for second on the team with three shots on goal in his return to the AHL. The guys in antlers will try to make history repeat itself tonight. The last time the Moose were shut out, they rebounded with four goals against Adam Werner and the Colorado Eagles the next night.
The Moose penalty kill came up with a clutch stop on Manitoba’s only shorthanded situation last night. With 5:25 to go, the Moose thwarted the Griffins as they looked for an insurance marker. Manitoba has been solid down a man of late, eliminating 27 of 31 chances against over the past eight games. That works out to an 87 per cent success rate. During that time, the Moose haven’t allowed multiple power play goals in a game while holding teams’ power play units off the board in four of those games. The Moose penalty kill ranks 20th in the AHL at 80.9 per cent on the season, but is 14th in the league on the road with the same success rate.
The Moose return home to play four games at Bell MTS Place next week. The action starts Monday night against the Belleville Senators in a 7 p.m. CT matchup. Tickets for all four games, which feature Canadian opponents, are available at moosehockey.com/tickets.