The Manitoba Moose figured theyd caught a lucky break when Milwaukee Admirals starting goaltender Connor Ingram was called up to the parent Nashville Predators for their first-round playoff series.
Turns out Ingrams replacement isnt too shabby, either.
Devin Cooley stopped 40 of 42 shots Friday night as the Admirals downed the Moose 3-2 to take Game 1 of their best-of-five Central Division series at Panther Arena.
Manitoba soundly outplayed Milwaukee but never led, erasing deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 before giving up the game-winner with just over four minutes left in the third period.
Forward Cole Schneider, a 30-goal scorer for the Admirals during the regular-season, beat Mikhail Berdin on a rush. Tommy Novak had the primary assist, and also set-up his teams other two goals scored by Brayden Burke and Matt Donovan.
Moose defenceman Declan Chisholm led the way offensively with a goal and an assist. C.J. Suess had the other Manitoba tally.
Berdin stopped 18 of 21 shots he faced.
Special teams were a big story in this one. Manitoba went 0-for-3 on the power play, including one in the final frame that Milwaukee killed off shortly before Schneiders big tally. The Admirals went 1-for-3 with the man advantage.
The Moose had a nearly full lineup including forward Morgan Barron and defenceman Dylan Samberg who were just returned from the Winnipeg Jets earlier in the week. The only exception was forward Kristian Reichel, who remains out with injury.
The Admirals were missing Ingram, who is up with Nashville due to the injury suffered by their No. 1 netminder, Juuse Saros. Ingram began the best-of-seven playoff series against Colorado as the backup to David Rittich, but came on in relief in Game 1 and then got the start in Game 2. The Avalanche are up 2-0 in that series.
They didnt skip a beat with Cooley, an undrafted 24-year-old who appeared in 24 games for Milwaukee this year, winning just nine times.
Moose forward Jeff Malott led the way with eight shots, while defencemen Ville Heinola and Leon Gawanke had six each with no success.
Manitoba finished second in the Central Division and won seven of 12 regular-season meetings with third-place Milwaukee.
The Moose will now try to earn a split on the road, with Game 2 set for Saturday at 6 p.m.. The series then shifts back to Canada Life Centre, with Game 3 next Wednesday. Games 4 and 5, if necessary, would be held next Friday and Sunday.