HARTFORD, CT – Goaltender Yutaka Fukufuji earned his first AHL win of the season in his first start and left wing Noah Clarke made history in the Manchester Monarchs 5-2 win over the Hartford Wolf Pack in front of 6,491 fans at the Hartford Civic Center on Saturday night.
Manchester (18-10-6-1) is in first place in the Atlantic Division with 43 points. Hartford (15-16-2-0) is in seventh place in the Atlantic Division with 32 points.
The Wolf Pack scored two power play goals by left wing Nigel Dawes and defenseman Marvin Degon in the first period for the early lead. At 11:19, Dawes struck first with his fourth tally of the season. Dawes picked up the puck behind the Monarchs net and carried it out to the bottom of the right face-off circle. Dawes turned and fired a shot past Fukufuji in his first AHL start of the season. Right wing Ryan Callahan and defenseman Ivan Baranka assisted on the first goal of the game.
Degon made it 2-0 for Hartford at 19:50 of the opening frame. Callahan fed the puck to Degon in the right face-off circle. Degon tip-toed in on Fukufuji and snapped a wrist shot into the back of the net. Left wing Brad Isbister earned an assisted on Degon's fourth tally of the season.
Manchester responded with five unanswered goals in the final two periods of play. Right wing Lauri Tukonen tipped in his sixth goal of the season at the 23-second mark of the second period. Defenseman Peter Harrold carried the puck into the Wolf Pack zone along the right wing boards and threw a shot on net. The puck traveled through bodies and bounced off of Tukonen and past Hartford's netminder Stephen Valiquette.
Right wing Mike Hoffman evened the score at 2-2 with a power play goal at the two-minute mark of the middle period. Left wing Petr Kanko's shot from the right face-off circle was stopped by Valiquette but Hoffman was on the doorstep to jam in the rebound for his sixth goal of the season. Right wing Konstantin Pushkarev also earned an assisted on the tying goal.
The Monarchs took the lead with right wing Tim Jackman's sixth tally of the season at 16:04 of the second period. Right wing John Zeiler fed the puck up the ice to Jackman who skated into the slot and scored to give the Monarchs a 3-2 lead heading into the locker room for the second intermission.
Clarke made Monarchs history by scoring his 72nd goal in a Monarchs uniform, the most goals scored by a Monarchs player, at 5:41 of the third period. Clarke stole the puck from the Wolf Pack's defense and snapped a wrist shot between the legs of Valiquette to surpass former Monarchs center Michael Cammalleri as the Monarchs all-time leading goal scorer and to end his fifteen game goal scoring drought. The goal was Clarke's 11th of the season.
At 15:10 of the final stanza, defenseman Eric Werner collected his second goal of the season on the power play to finish off the Wolf Pack 5-2. Clarke fed the puck to Werner at the point for the one-timer that snuck past Valiquette on his glove side as left wing Matt Moulson served as the screen in front of the net. Defenseman Bryan Schmidt collected the other assist on the goal.
Fukufuji earned his first win of the season by stopping 21 of the 23 shots that he faced. Valiquette took the loss with 12 saves on 17 shots.
Manchester went 2-for-5 on the power play. Hartford was 2-for-6 with the man advantage.