Eric Manlow scored twice, including the winning goal at 5:31 of overtime as the Hamilton Bulldogs rallied to beat the Manitoba Moose 3-2 in Game 6 of the American Hockey League's all-Canadian North Division final series Monday night. Hamilton will now play the Chicago Wolves in the Western Conference final starting Friday night.
The overtime winner came as Manlow brought the puck into the Moose zone and snapped a wrist shot that found its way through the legs of Wade Flaherty. It was Manlow's second goal of the game.
"I knew I didn't have much time to get it off," said Manlow. "I basically just tried to throw it on net and I got fortunate that it did slip by Flaherty."
Manlow may have scored the game winner, but it was once again Hamilton netminder Carey Price who stole the show making 40 saves for his eighth win of the playoffs.
"I wouldn't consider myself the hero," said Manlow. "I think Price tonight was our big hero and I was just fortunate to be the one to put the puck in the net."
Corey Locke also scored for the Bulldogs, while Brad Moran and Brandon Reid replied for the Moose.
Manitoba wasted little time getting on the scoreboard in the opening period as Moran scored his fifth goal of the playoffs just 1:32 in. Jason Jaffray battled hard behind the Hamilton net, eventually getting the puck to Moran out front who snapped a quick wrist shot past Price. In a period dominated by Manitoba, shots were 13-4 in their favour.
The second period played out much like the first as Manitoba's offence controlled the play. Awarded a 5-on-3 power play with just over two minutes having gone by, the Moose doubled their lead. Reid scored his second goal in as many games as he blasted a slap shot past Price from just over the blue-line.
Both goaltenders played well in the period with Manitoba outshooting Hamilton 15-12, but the Bulldogs came away with the momentum.
"The last five or six minutes of the second period we finally started to get some forechecking going and we started to bang," said Hamilton coach Don Lever. "They came out and set the tone right from the first whistle, but we didn't give up when they got that second goal and that to me was impressive."
Hamilton cut the Manitoba lead to 2-1 at the 11:11 mark of the final period as Locke's slap shot luckily found the back of the net on the power play. The puck hit the right post, then hit Flaherty's back before sliding over the goal line.
Less than three minutes later the Bulldogs struck again as Flaherty deflected a rebound off a point shot right to Manlow. He fired it in over Flaherty's right shoulder with a quick wrist shot.
In overtime, Manitoba's Jannik Hansen was assessed a hooking penalty early on, but Hamilton was unable to convert on the power play.
"For us to come and walk into this building and win three games is pretty unbelievable," said coach Lever.
An exciting win for the Bulldogs, with a tough pill to swallow for the Moose.
"We out worked them, out shot them, big deal, we lost the game," said Manitoba captain Mike Keane. "We obviously did some good things, we felt good about ourselves and they got a power-play goal and then one right after and we tried to hang on but guys played well and they competed hard, that's the tough part."
Overall Manitoba outshot Hamilton 42-25. Flaherty stopped 22 of 25 shots for the Moose.