The slide continues, but the latest loss came with a silver lining -- albeit a small one.
The Manitoba Moose were unable to hold a one-goal lead after 40 minutes as Thomas Vanek scored his second goal of the game on a clear-cut breakaway 1:37 into overtime to propel the Rochester Americans to a 5-4 victory in American Hockey League action yesterday before a crowd of 8,770 at the MTS Centre.
The Moose, who slipped to 34-17-2-6, are winless in five games, while the Americans have won eight consecutive contests and expanded their cushion to 20 points in the chase for top spot in the North Division.
"We're putting a tremendous amount of pressure on ourselves to find a way out of this and we're complicating the issue," said Moose head coach Randy Carlyle, who held a 10-minute closed-door meeting with his players following the game. "The only way we're going to turn this around is to simplify our approach.
"We got a point. That's the only positive."
The Moose held the lead on four different occasions, but gave up a breakaway goal that allowed the Amerks to tie the game 4-4 and then put it away in overtime.
"What's aggravating is the way we're playing, to tell you the truth," said Moose captain Nolan Baumgartner. "Case in point, tonight we have a lead going into the third period. We stress and stress game plans all the time. It might sound cliche and you guys might be sick and tired of hearing it and bottom line, we just got away from it. Maybe we finally proved to ourselves that not doing what the coaches put forth for us as a game plan doesn't win us games."
The Moose took advantage of an early two-man advantage to break the ice as Peter Sarno banged home a rebound after a point shot by Tomas Mojzis.
Rochester replied with a power play goal of its own on a lucky bounce.
Derek Roy was attempting to direct the puck toward the goal and it caromed off the skate of a Moose defender and landed right on the stick of Jason Pominville, who whistled his shot past Alex Auld.
REGAINED THE LEAD
Just over a minute later, the Moose regained the lead as Josh Green blasted a slap-shot past Amerks backup goalie Tom Askey.
Paul Gaustad's tic-tac-toe power play marker at 2:02 of the third was perhaps the prettiest goal of the night, but Jason King restored the lead when he took a nifty drop-pass from Sarno and buried a shot at 4:13.
Vanek and Ryan Kesler, on a penalty shot, traded goals before Amerks captain Chris Taylor sprung loose on a breakaway to even the score at 13:48 of the third.
With the win, the Amerks were able to even the season series at two games apiece, with each team winning once in overtime.
"Quite frankly, with (the Moose) losing a few in a row it was a dangerous situation for us to come into," said Amerks head coach Randy Cunneyworth, whose team was playing its third game in as many days. "These guys have a lot of character that really had to shine through and I think it did."
MOOSE TRACKS: Looking for a spark to snap the losing streak, Carlyle opted to dress veteran forward Jimmy Roy, a healthy scratch in the previous six games, and sit down veteran defenceman Johnathan Aitken. Wade Brookbank moved back on defence.