TORONTO -- Jonas Gustavsson is making the most of his conditioning stint with the Toronto Marlies.
The goaltender played a near perfect game Saturday, carrying a shutout late into the third period as the Toronto Marlies defeated the Manitoba Moose 3-1 in the American Hockey League.
Gustavsson, who hasn't lost in regulation with the team in posting a 3-0-1 record, came into the game with 1.24 goals-against average and .946 save percentage. He improved those stellar statistics with a 23-save performance against the Moose.
"It's huge for me to get into all kinds of games," Gustavsson said. "The AHL is still a really good, high level. The guys can really shoot and play the puck. You have to be ready and prepare yourself the same way as if it's the NHL."
"I'm happy with the games I get here and hopefully I can bring it if I'm going to play up in the NHL. But right now it just feels good to get a couple starts, play with the Marlies for a short while and help the team improve in the standings."
Nazem Kadri and Aaron Voros each had a goal and an assist, and Christian Hanson had the Marlies' other goal.
Evan Oberg replied for Manitoba while Eddie Lack stopped 14 shots.
It was Gustavsson's second start since returning from another minor heart surgery.
Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins liked what he saw from his goaltender and plans to play him again Sunday in the second of back-to-back games against the Moose.
"We need to get Gustavsson up and going," Eakins said. "It's important for his conditioning and his development."
"He was so square all night that the pucks we able to hit him. It's unfortunate that the short-handed goal went in there at the end because would have been nice to see walk out of there with a shutout."
Toronto opened the scoring early exactly three minutes into the game. Kadri cut in between two Moose defenders and snapped a shot over Lack (20-15-3) for his 14th of the season.
Voros gave Toronto a 2-0 lead on the power play at 14:02. Kadri threaded a perfect pass through Manitoba's box defence to Voros, who was left alone at the side of the net for an easy tap in.
It was Voros' first goal with Toronto after he was acquired from the Anaheim Ducks on Feb. 15 for a conditional seventh-round draft pick.
Since joining the Marlies, Voros has thrived playing for Eakins, who has paired him regularly on a line with Nazem Kadri.
"Dallas is a great coach," Voros said. "He's a former player, so he knows how to make certain plays and how tough some plays are to make. He's a real players' coach, and I'm very fortunate to have him here with the Marlies."
Toronto's Marcus Mueller took a thunderous open-ice hit from Aaron Volpatti midway through the frame and was on the ice for several minutes and didn't return.
"I doubt he will return (Sunday)," Eakins said. "Usually when a guy doesn't come back and play, that's not a good sign. That was one hell of hit he took."
Toronto started the game with the 27th-ranked power play, but has now scored at least one goal with the man advantage in each of the past four games.
Oberg got a short-handed goal to break Gustavsson's shutout with just 3:01 left in the game.
"That was a tough one," Marlies captain Alex Foster said. "We would have liked to have gotten him the shutout. It's a great stat for goalies. Regardless, he played an excellent game for us."
Hanson added an empty-net goal at 19:09 to round out the scoring.
Toronto (30-23-8) came into the game two points behind Manitoba (31-22-6), which was tied with the Hamilton Bulldogs and Lake Erie Monsters for first place in a tight North Division. Just eight points separate first from last place.
The Marlies are now 3-1-1 on their current eight-game homestand. They play 19 of their final 24 games at home.
The Moose are wrapping up a string of eight straight games against divisional opponents. The team is now 1-5-1 during that stretch, which started with two losses against the Marlies less than two weeks ago in Manitoba.
Notes: Manitoba plays three games this weekend in a span of 42 hours. ... The Moose came into the game ranked No. 2 on the penalty kill behind the Marlies. ... Announced attendance was 4,890.