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Manitoba shuts out Grizzlies

So much for avenging the Valentine's Day massacre.

Kent Fearns and Bill Bowler scored third-period goals as Manitoba defeated Utah 2-0 in the E Center.The setback came 13 days after the Moose handed the Grizzlies their most lopsided loss in franchise history, a 9-2 whipping in Winnipeg.

Utah coach Butch Goring said the Grizzlies were embarrassed and had plenty of motivation Friday. What he wanted was improved play.

"We're not doing enough to win hockey games," Goring said. "We're just doing enough to be competitive."

In losing for just the third time in their past 22 games at home, the Grizzlies spoiled the return of goaltender Mark McArthur. He made 27 saves in his first action since Nov. 28, when he suffered a knee injury.

"I know he was nervous before the game. It's been a long time since he's made a start," Grizz captain Gord Dineen said after McArthur made 12 stops in the first period. "He came in there and made some big saves for us."

Though the Grizzlies had some good opportunities, even hitting the post on one occasion, a lack of offense sealed the outcome. Manitoba goalie Johan Hedberg recorded the shutout by stopping 34 shots. McArthur, meanwhile, only surrendered a goal when the Moose had a 5-3 man-advantage. Manitoba's other score came on an empty net in the final minute.

"I have no complaints about our goaltending," Goring said. "Obviously the power play is always a problem when you don't score."

Utah was 0-6 with a man-advantage. Ironically, the Grizz had equal futility when the Moose became the first opponent ever to record a shutout in the E Center. The score on Feb. 7 was (cue Twilight Zone theme) 2-0. Manitoba (27-31-5) has now defeated Utah (37-17-7) four straight times.

"We weren't sharp," Goring added. "And we didn't play with as much desperation as we needed to."

The Grizzlies return to action tonight at 7 in the E Center against Southwest Division-leading Long Beach.

SLAP SHOTS: Utah visits San Antonio Sunday and Houston Wednesday before returning to the E Center for a five-game homestand featuring Kansas City (March 6-7), Houston (March 11) and San Antonio (March 13-14).