MANCHESTER, NH ? Rookie goaltender Erik Ersberg recorded his first AHL shutout and first for the Manchester Monarchs this season in a decisive 4-0 victory over the Portland Pirates in front of 5,611 fans at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Friday night.
Manchester (11-11-2-1) is in fifth place in the Atlantic Division with 25 points. Portland (14-11-1-1) is in fourth place in the Atlantic Division with 30 points.
For the first time all season the Monarchs only needed one goal to clinch a win. On the power play right wing Teddy Purcell scored the first goal of the game and the game-winning goal by beating Pirates netminder Gerald Coleman five-hole at 4:04 of the first period. Center Gabe Gauthier fought for the puck behind Coleman and plastered a pass to the stick of defenseman Brian Boyle in the right corner. Boyle found Purcell skating into the left face-off circle where he scored his ninth goal of the season tying Boyle for the team lead in goals. Ersberg stopped all 21 shots he faced for his first AHL shutout and the Monarchs first shutout victory of the season.
The league leaders in power play goals went on the attack scoring their second power play goal of the night at 6:29 of the first period. Left wing Matt Moulson controlled the puck down low and wrapped the puck around the net for a backhand shot. Coleman poked the disk away from Moulson mid-backhand, but on a second effort Moulson connected scoring his seventh goal of the season. Gauthier collected his second assist of the night and defenseman Peter Harrold earned his first assist of the evening increasing the lead to 2-0.
At 8:31 of the second period, defenseman Troy Milam scored the third consecutive power play goal to bring the tally to 3-0. Right wing Vladimir Dravecky passed to defenseman Jeff Likens who was posted at the right point. Mirroring Likens on the left point, Milam was stationed with his stick drawn back for a shot. Likens fed the puck to Milam who uncorked a one-timer beating Coleman stick side for his 12th point of the season.
A minute and 27 seconds later, center David Meckler got on the score board. Center Matt Ryan picked the pocket of a Pirates defender and found Meckler skating into the right face-off circle. Borrowing a move made famous by former Monarchs center Michael Cammalleri, Meckler dropped to one knee and took a slap shot on net. The puck went untouched as it went five-hole on Coleman giving the Monarchs four unanswered goals and finishing the game with 4-0 lead.
Manchester went 3-for-5 on the power play. Portland was 0-for-4 with the man advantage.
Ersberg stopped all 21 shots he faced in the shutout victory. Coleman stopped 15-of-19 shots in the loss before being replaced by goaltender Mike McKenna who stopped all four shots he faced.