Photo courtesy of JustSports Photography
Hershey Pa.-Manitoba struck for two quick goals late in the second period and staved off elimination with a 3-2 win over Hershey on Tuesday before a sellout crowd of 10,860 fans at Giant Center.
The Moose cut their series deficit in the 2009 Calder Cup Finals to 3-2 and will now return to MTS Centre to host Game 6 on Friday night. Manitoba will attempt to force the first Game 7 in the Calder Cup Finals since 2003, while the Bears will take their second crack at claiming a record 10th AHL championship.
Tuesday’s contest seemed poised to enter the third period as a scoreless deadlock, but Michael Grabner finally gave Manitoba a 1-0 lead with three minutes to play in the second frame, tallying his third goal of the series and team-leading 10th of the playoffs.
Guillaume Desbiens swung out from behind the net and threw a shot toward Hershey goaltender Michal Neuvirth. It was knocked down in front, but Grabner picked up the loose puck and sent it past Neuvirth from 10 feet out.
Just 1:07 later, Cody Hodgson, who was scratched from the lineup in Game 4 on Sunday, fired a wrist shot from the right circle over Neuvirth’s glove for his second goal of the playoffs.
Hershey could not put a puck past Moose goaltender Cory Schneider in the first two periods despite combining to record a 24-11 edge in shots on goal over that span.
But the Bears reduced their deficit in half just 4:17 into the third period. Keith Aucoin sent a pass from behind the net out front to Graham Mink, who faked a shot and then sent the puck over a sprawled-out Schneider into an open net for his seventh goal of the playoffs.
Manitoba killed off a Hershey power play opportunity that began with just 3:32 to play in regulation, and Jason Krog buried an empty-net tally for the Moose just 11 seconds after the Bears’ man advantage expired.
That proved to be the game-winning marker when Hershey defenseman John Carlson sent a shot through a screen into the back of the net with 31 seconds left to make it a 3-2 game.
Schneider was sharp in net and finished the night with 31 saves to improve to 14-6 this postseason. Neuvirth stopped 23 of 25 shots in the losing effort.