Boy, do the Lake Erie Monsters just keep rolling along.
After opening their season with a 6-3 loss in Rochester on Oct. 9, the Blue Jackets' top AHL affiliate has really turned it on, now without a regulation loss in four games.
Behind strong goaltending (this will be a theme as we go on here), the Monsters went 1-0-0-1 on their home opening weekend against the Iowa Wild. Anton Forsberg and Joonas Korpisalo have, so far, been a rock-solid tandem for Jared Bednar's club and they are giving the Monsters a chance to win every single night.
The second weekend of the season brought a new test for the Monsters, traveling to Winnipeg to face the reborn Manitoba Moose for the first of eight meetings this season. Lake Erie played two very strong road games at MTS Centre, and on Thursday, the Monsters had to rebound from an early goal by Joel Armia and right the ship.
Lake Erie pumped 33 shots at Moose goaltender Connor Hellebuyck on Thursday, and didn't break through until the 13:45 mark of the second period.
Lukas Sedlak scored the equalizer, and Michael Chaput scored less than two minutes later to give the Monsters the lead (a goal that would stand as the game-winner). Chaput also added an empty netter for good measure.
Saturday's game featured another solid goaltending performance, and this time, it was Korpisalo getting the job done. He made 29 saves to earn a well-deserved shutout, and the victory propelled the Monsters into first place in the Central Division.
Here are more related notes, courtesy of MonstersHockey.com:
THURSDAY: Backed into a corner, the Moose fought hard in the third, but the period slid by scoreless until Monsters captain Ryan Craig fed Chaput in the game’s final minute, and the Ile Bizard, Quebec native found the empty net for his second score of the game and the season, establishing Lake Erie’s final margin of victory at 3-1.
Monsters goaltender Anton Forsberg improved to 2-1-0 on the season thanks to a 17-save performance while Hellebuyck took the loss for Manitoba despite halting 33 Lake Erie shots on goal.
SATURDAY: After a scoreless middle frame, Chaput gave the Monsters some breathing room less than a minute into the third, when the Ile Bizard, Quebec native poked home his third goal of the season and third in his past two games, thanks to a visionary backdoor feed from Sonny Milano.
The real story on Saturday, though, was Korpisalo. Often in spectacular fashion, the Pori, Finland native was named ‘First Star’ of the game and stopped each of the 29 Moose shots he faced to notch his second consecutive shutout to start the season. Manitoba’s Eric Comrie made 30 saves in defeat.