Moose turn tables

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

This role reversal suits the antlered ones just fine.

After watching the Rochester Americans roar back to win Game 1 of the American Hockey League North Division final by overcoming a two-goal deficit in the third period, the Manitoba Moose turned the tables with a 5-4 overtime victory on Monday night in Game 3 to take a 2-1 series lead.

Game 4 goes tonight at the MTS Centre at 7:35 p.m. and the stakes are high. Either the Moose continue their strong play on home ice and jump out to a 3-1 lead or the regular season champion Americans bounce back to even the series and turn it into a best-of-three with the final two games in Rochester, N.Y.

BIG FACTOR

Special teams were a big factor for the Moose on Monday night as the slumbering power play awakened with two goals from Winnipegger Lee Goren and the penalty-killing unit came up with a big effort, especially after Alexandre Burrows was given a five-minute major for high-sticking with 4:59 to go in regulation after cutting Americans defenceman David Cullen open.

"They did it to us in Game 1, it was nice to return the favour," said Goren. "Obviously, we need to have a better start, which has been key to our success in the playoffs so far. We were sitting back and we were turning pucks over where we shouldn't be. We addressed it and we did the things we need to do to be successful. Rochester took it to us for a lot of that game and we had to come back and respond. We did."

The Americans scored the first goal of the contest in Game 3, then held a pair of two-goal leads at 3-1 and 4-2 but were unable to hold them.

The Moose never led until Jeff Heerema's long slapper from just inside the blue-line beat Ryan Miller at 10:22 of overtime and sent the hometown crowd into a frenzy.

"It was an awesome feeling, you get shivers -- it's why we play the game," said Heerema. "It was nice to score but it's better to win."

Still, the Moose understand there is plenty of room for improvement.

"By no means are they going to be down and out," said Moose captain Nolan Baumgartner. "They've got a lot of character over there. Now we have to be real ready for the next game because we didn't play that good and we could look at it as being a little bit lucky coming back in that game."

Moose head coach Randy Carlyle dismissed the notion his team might be resting on its laurels after the emotional victory.

"I don't think there's any chance of us being overconfident," said Carlyle. "I guarantee you we will not be overconfident in our preparations."

The Americans captain said they played well enough to win Game 2 (a 1-0 win by Manitoba) and controlled much of the play in Game 3 but are now facing a 2-1 deficit. Don't expect any signs of panic from the team which had the best road record in the AHL during the regular season.

"It happens in the playoffs ... we're pretty relaxed and we know it's going to be a long series," said Americans Chris Taylor. "They're a great hockey team and to think we weren't going to lose any games is ridiculous. We know what's ahead of us and it's going to be very, very tough."

MOOSE TRACKS: Americans forward Thomas Vanek didn't skate with his teammates yesterday after taking a big open-ice check from Kevin Bieksa late in second period on Monday. It was a hard fall for Vanek, who's helmet was knocked off by the force of the collision. Americans head coach Randy Cunneyworth said Vanek suffered a cut to his head and is day-to-day. Roughly 6,800 tickets had been sold for both tonight's and Friday's Game 5 as of late yesterday afternoon.


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