|Bernier made 35 saves for the win.
MANCHESTER, N.H. – The Manchester Monarchs defeated the Hartford Wolf Pack, 4-1, at the Verizon Wireless Arena in an afternoon matinee on Sunday as the ZOOperstars performed for the fans during the intermission.
Manchester (26-13-1-4) retains sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division with 57 points. Hartford (22-16-1-4) is tied for fourth place with the Portland Pirates (21-15-5-2) in the Atlantic Division with 49 points.
“It was a hard fought win,” said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “Our penalty kill in the third period was stellar. We had many contributions from all our guys tonight. Heading into the All-Star break and rebounding from last night’s loss was huge for our club.”
The second goal of the game for the Monarchs, and the game-winner, was scored by center Tom Cavanagh at 10:34 of the first period. Center Corey Elkins, set up at the bottom of the right face-off dot, passed the puck cross-ice to the left point where defenseman David Kolomatis was positioned. With a quick dish to his right on the backhand, Kolomatis set up Cavanagh who crept back to the right point. Cavanagh fired a blast that beat goaltender Matt Zaba to his left and gave the Monarchs the early 2-0 edge. Kolomatis and Elkins assisted on Cavanagh’s goal, his third in four games with the Monarchs.
The Monarchs started off the game strong, scoring just 36 seconds into the game on a chip shot from Elkins in the crease. With heavy crease traffic, an initial shot by the Monarchs was collected by Zaba and redistributed to Monarchs center Juraj Mikus who immediately fired the puck on net. The rebound was chipped home by Elkins for the first goal of the game. Mikus and defenseman Andrew Campbell assisted on Elkins team-leading 13th goal of the season.
Right wing John Zeiler added another tally for the Monarchs at 10:51 of the opening period, only 17 seconds after Cavanagh’s goal. Zeiler, with speed, skated up the right wing, looped around the back of the goal and emerged near the left post to wrist the puck five-hole on Zaba. Center Marc-Andre Cliche, who initiated the play in the neutral zone with a crisp pass, was credited with the lone assist on Zeiler’s wrap-around goal, giving the Monarchs the 3-0 advantage.
The Wolf Pack scored their lone goal at 13:17 of the first period on the stick of left winger Jordan Owens. Center Evgeni Grachev, positioned behind Monarchs goaltender Jonathan Bernier, collected a pass from the point by defenseman Nigel Williams. Grachev fired the puck on Bernier from a tough angle behind the goal line and the shot was kicked away by Bernier. Owens, positioned in front of the goal directly to Bernier’s right, collected the rebound and lifted the puck past Bernier’s left shoulder to give the Wolf Pack their only goal of the game. Grachev and Williams collected helpers on Owens goal.
The final tally for the Monarchs was scored by left wing Bud Holloway at 1:04 of the third period. In an attempt to clear the Monarchs defensive zone, defenseman Viatcheslav Voynov passed the puck up the ice to Holloway. His pass was thwarted when the puck struck a Wolf Pack defender. Holloway collected the rebound off of the defender and skated past the blueline where he fired a laser that found the top right corner of the goal behind Zaba. Voynov collected the lone assist on Holloway’s goal, increasing the Monarchs lead to 4-1.
Bernier (18-10-4) was credited with his 18th win of the season, stopping 35-of-36 shots. Zaba (3-4-1) assumed the loss, stopping 21-of-25 shots for his fourth defeat of the season.
Manchester’s penalty kill held Hartford scoreless, as the Wolf Pack was 0-for-7 with the man advantage. The Monarchs went 1-for-5 with the extra skater.
Notables: The Monarchs snapped their two game losing streak…Center Tom Cavanagh’s game-winning goal was his fourth consecutive point (3-1=4) in his first four games with the Monarchs…Center Corey Elkins’ goal 36 seconds into the game is the fastest goal of the season…Cavanagh and right wing John Zeiler’s goals 17 seconds apart are the two fastest goals this season by the Monarchs…Goaltender Jonathan Bernier and defenseman Viatcheslav Voynov are participating in the 2010 Time Warner Cable AHL All-Star Classic on January 18-19.