MANCHESTER, NH – Left wing Noah Clarke scored with less than two minutes remaining in the game and goaltender Yutaka Fukufuji collected his first home win in the Manchester Monarchs 2-1 win over the Providence Bruins in front of the first sell out of the season, 9,932 fans at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Saturday night.
Manchester (21-10-6-1) is in first place in the Atlantic Division with 49 points. Providence (16-18-1-2) is in seventh place in the Atlantic Division with 35 points.
At 13:13 of the first period, the Bruins thought they could take an early lead off of center Phil Kessel's goal but the goal was waived off because Kessel knocked in the puck with a high stick. When the buzzer sounded at the end of the period, both teams went into their respective locker rooms with goose eggs on the scoreboard.
As the clock ticked away in the final seconds of the second period, the crowd was anxiously cheering on the Monarchs for a final push. Defenseman Mike Weaver passed the puck to right wing Lauri Tukonen who was stationed at the left face-off circle. Tukonen served up a bulls-eye pass to center Patrick O'Sullivan perched just to the right of Bruins netminder Jordan Sigalet. O'Sullivan controlled the puck and popped the cork passed Sigalet's glove side for his 13th goal of the year giving the Monarchs a 1-0 lead at 19:58 of the middle frame.
Bruins drew first blood in the third period off the stick of Kessel. Looking for revenge from his first period goal that was waived off, Kessel intercepted a pass off the boards in the Monarchs zone and released a laser beam past the masked man Fukufuji. The goal was Kessel's first career AHL goal as he is playing for Providence on a conditioning stint from the Boston Bruins after receiving treatment for testicular cancer.
The Monarchs were not going to disappoint the sold out crowd here at the Verizon Wireless Arena. With a 1:10 left on the clock, O'Sullivan danced into the red light district and took a shot on Sigalet. The shot ricocheted off of Tukonen in front of the crease and right to Clarke. Sigalet, looking to his left for the puck, was unaware that it had bounced to Clarke on the far post. Clarke took the backhand shot into an open net clinching the game with a score of 2-1.
Fukufuji took his first home victory, second this season, with 32 saves. Sigalet took the loss stopping 36 shots.
Manchester went 0-for-6 on the power play. Providence was 0-for-4 with the man advantage.