It was a classic case of winning ugly.
On consecutive nights over the weekend, the Manitoba Moose likely deserved to come out on the losing end against the Toronto Marlies but found a way to win.
The end result saw the Moose taste victory for the 12th time in 13 games and improve to 12-3 on the American Hockey League season.
"We had a couple of ugly games this weekend but got the win and that's the sign of a good team," said Moose goalie Cory Schneider. "We can out-skill teams, we can out-grind them, we can play different variations of the game and still come out with the win and that's huge at this point of the year. You're going to need that flexibility throughout the course of the season."
Being able to win without your best effort isn't something a team wants to rely on, but it's an important trait when you're trying to establish yourself as an elite team.
"Sometimes you can get away with it, but not all the time" said Moose head coach Scott Arniel. "It's how coaches get grey (hair). You don't want to always be living on the edge like that."
The Moose know they have some areas to improve, but the bottom line is they've accumulated 24 out a possible 30 points to start the campaign and are among the top teams in the 29-team circuit.
HEAD TO HEAD: Schneider admitted he was excited to go head-to-head with Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Justin Pogge on Saturday night.
"I've always kind of been compared to him, since our draft and the world juniors," said Schneider, who played for Team USA at the 2006 World Junior Hockey Championship in Vancouver when Pogge led Canada to a gold medal.
"I do take it personally a little bit playing against guys from my age group. You always want to stand out and be the one that is above them. Pogge is a great goalie, but it's fun to have little 1-on-1 battles like that where you have to try and be better than the other guy."
FILLING THE HAT: Moose forward Jason Jaffray admitted it was a little out of character, but when he took a shot at an empty net from just over his own blue line, he was well aware of the situation -- and made no mistake in providing the insurance marker that capped a natural hat trick.
"As soon as Keaner got that puck, he was looking for me," said Jaffray, who took a pass from captain Mike Keane and fired the puck into the vacated goal. "I don't usually shoot before the red line, but with five seconds left I'm not going to give up a chance to get a hat trick anytime."
UNDER REVIEW: The Moose were upset about a cheap shot delivered by Marlies forward Andre Deveaux late in the third period.
Deveaux took a run at Nolan Baumgartner and then dropped a couple of knees on his head for good measure.
Referee Kyle Rehman assessed a roughing minor. Referee supervisor Dan McCourt was in the building and is expected to give AHL disciplinarian Jim Mill a full report.
"We have video evidence and we'll just send it to the league and let them handle it," said Arniel.