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The Monsters Report: In The Thick Of It

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

It has certainly been an eventful week for the Lake Erie Monsters.

They've had a number of regulars called up to Columbus (and they've played quite well), and though Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella doesn't know much about the guys coming up, he did have very high praise for the organization in Cleveland.

Tortorella complimented Jared Bednar and his coaching staff for not only preparing the Monsters to win consistently at the AHL level, but for having them "game ready" when they're summoned to join the Blue Jackets.

As a result, the Monsters have had some holes to fill in their lineup and particularly so at forward. They made an interesting move this week, signing veteran center Manny Malhotra (a former Blue Jacket) to a 25-game professional tryout (PTO) agreement as the 35-year-old looks to revive his playing career.

Mahotra took a red eye from Vancouver and then on to Cleveland just in time for Thursday's game against the Iowa Wild, and all things considered, he played pretty well. Bednar even put him on the ice as an extra attacker with the Monsters needing a pair of goals to tie the game.

That game, which kicked off a 3-in-3 weekend for Lake Erie, was perhaps their most disappointing of the three. They led 2-0 and seemed to be in control of the game until Iowa kept clawing back into the game, scoring four unanswered goals to put the game away.

It was their first regulation loss of the season to Iowa, which had already been their opponent seven times.

On Friday night, the script was flipped and the Monsters put on a rally of their own.

Down 1-0 deep into regulation, John Ramage tied the game with 8:33 remaining and it seemed to open the lid for the Monsters. With under three minutes to play, Malhotra won an offensive zone face-off and Michael Paliotta pounded the game-winning goal into the net, with Trent Vogelhuber capping it off with an empty-netter.

The Monsters closed out the weekend with a 4-1 loss to the Grand Rapids Griffins at Van Andel Arena, the fourth of 12 meetings between the two teams this season. After a red-hot couple of weeks, Joonas Korpisalo took a pair of losses this weekend in goal.

Some other notes from up I-71:

- Anton Forsberg's solid performance on Friday night improved his record at Quicken Loans Arena to 5-0-0.

- With a record of 13-6-1-2 overall, Lake Erie sits in solo third place in the Central Division, two points behind second place Milwaukee and four points behind first place Rockford.

- TJ Tynan remains snake bitten and hasn't scored a goal yet, but he's the Monsters' scoring leader with 14 points - all assists - in 22 games.

- Up next for the Monsters is a two-game weekend series against the Chicago Wolves at The Q. Saturday night's game is a special one: it's Star Wars Night in Cleveland. The first 10,000 fans get lightsaber thundersticks and the team will wear Stormtrooper-themed jerseys.

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