WINNIPEG - Darryl Boyce's second-period goal proved to be the winner and Justin Pogge made 34 saves as the Toronto Marlies defeated the Manitoba Moose 3-2 in AHL action on Saturday.
Joe Ryan and Jiri Tlusty also scored for Toronto, while Jason Krog and Mark Cullen replied for the Moose.
Thanks to Pogge, who blocked 15 shots in the second period and handled the puck well on rebounds, the Marlies were able to increase their lead to 3-1 at 18:27 of the middle frame when Boyce picked up a puck off the boards, snapped a wrist shot from the top of the right faceoff circle, and beat screened Moose netminder Curtis Sanford in front of 13,043.
It was the fifth consecutive win by the Marlies over the Moose this season and kept Toronto one point ahead of Syracuse for the fourth and final playoff position in the North Division after Syracuse had defeated Rochester earlier in the evening.
Krog opened the scoring for Manitoba with his 30th goal of the season at 9:27 of the first period when he snapped a wrist shot from the right face off circle and caught Pogge out of position.
Three minutes later Tlusty tied the game with his 25th, after he raced down the left side unimpeded and snapped a quick wrist shot beating Sanford high to the far corner.
With four minutes remaining in the period, Ryan gave the Marlies their first lead of the game beating Sanford to the far corner on his stick side from the right faceoff circle.
The Moose, who outshot the Marlies 11-9 in the first period, had a 5-on-3 man advantage for a minute and 38 seconds with about three minutes left in the frame and failed to capitalize.
Cullen narrowed the gap to one when he scored on a wraparound at 17:20 of the third period.
Sanford, who stopped 25 shots, was replaced for an extra attacker with 55 seconds remaining in the third, but to no avail.
Manitoba (49-22-0-6) now goes on the road to finish off their regular season schedule with three games.
The Moose have wrapped up first place in the North Division but are now tied with the best record in the AHL overall with Hershey Bears of the East Division with 104 points.