Lee Goren's goal at 10:45 of the third period earned the Moose a 1-0 win over the Griffins in Game 1 of the AHL's North Division semifinal series Thursday night. "All of our games have been tight against them, a lot of one goal games," said Moose Head Coach Scott Arniel. "They played hard and they didn't give us a whole lot, especially early.
"It's playoff hockey and teams are going to play desperate. I expect it to be the same all the way through this series."
Moose goaltender Drew MacIntyre turned aside all 23 shots fired his way for his first career playoff shutout. MacIntyre coasted through the first two periods without facing many tough shots, but he stood on his head in the last stages of the game with his team shorthanded.
"I felt good the whole game," said MacIntyre. "I wasn't really comfortable the first two games of the season against them, but now it's just another teama They've got a lot of winners on that team and they worked hard tonight, and they're going to work even harder next game."
Grand Rapids netminder Jimmy Howard was stellar at the other end of the ice, stopping 28 of 29 shots.
The Moose and Griffins played a cautious first period, with the home team outshooting Grand Rapids 10-6 despite not recording its first shot until the 11:14 mark.
The tempo quickened in the second as Manitoba exerted good offensive pressure, but couldn't beat Howard in outshooting the Griffins 8-6.
The third period was pretty much a carbon copy of the first two until Goren broke the scoreless tie with just over nine minutes to play. Goren blasted a one-timer over the glove of Howard, after receiving a pass from Yannick Tremblay at the top of the slot. Jason Jaffray also picked up an assist on the goal, extending his points streak versus Grand Rapids to eight games.
"It was one of my better shots of the night, I'm fortunate it went in," said Goren. "Hard fought battle, we fought for every inch, and we were fortunate enough to get the win at the endaThey're going to come at us hard on Saturday and we've got to go just as hard."
Special teams is expected to play a big role in this series, but it didn't in Game 1 as neither team clicked with the man advantage. Manitoba went 0-5 on the power play, while Grand Rapids finished 0-4.
Manitoba and Grand Rapids met in last year's playoffs with the Griffins eliminating the Moose in Game 7 of the North Division final. Manitoba dominated their rivals throughout this past regular season though, winning six of their eight meetings.
The Moose outshot the Griffins 29-23 overall, and improve their record on the opening night of the playoffs to 5-4.
This series resumes Saturday night at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg.