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Moose close gap on Griffins

Manitoba had three seperate two-goal leads as they fought off the league-leading Grand Rapids Griffins for a 5-3 win at Van Andel Arena on Tuesday night.

Jason King scored two goals and Wade Flaherty made 29 saves as the Moose handed the Griffins only their fourth regulation home loss of the season.

The Moose struck within the first two minutes of the game as Jason Jaffray caused a turnover in the Griffins zone, picked up the puck in the corner and made a nice pass in front to King, who beat Joey MacDonald.

Mike Brown scored shorthanded less than six minutes later to give Manitoba an early 2-0 lead.

Grand Rapids rallied, getting goals from Nate DiCasmirro and Eric Manlow to tie the score heading into the second intermission. Grand Rapids owned a 24-9 edge in shots through 40 minutes.

The Moose regained the lead when King snapped home his second of the night immediately off a Craig Darby face-off win at the 1:42 mark of the third.

Ryan Bayda gave the Moose their two-goal lead back, converting a pass from Lee Goren.

Jiri Hudler got one back for the Griffins with 1:37 remaining and MacDonald pulled for an extra attacker, but Goren’s empty-net goal 16 seconds later capped the scoring.

The win draws Manitoba to within eight points of first-place Grand Rapids in the North Division.

The game was the first of up to 15 AHL contests to air on XM Satellite Radio and XM Canada this month. Next up is Wednesday night’s Battle of Ontario between the Toronto Marlies and the Hamilton Bulldogs, live on XM 204 at 7:30 p.m. ET.