Manchester (28-26-0-3) is in second place in the Atlantic Division with 59 points. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (32-16-2-5) is in first place in the East Division with 71 points.
“Tonight was a step in the right direction,” said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “We can’t be too excited but we rallied to tie the score by digging deep in the third. At the tail end, Robbie Czarnik almost ended it for us. The second period was a sore spot and another reminder to us to continue to keep our game plan intact. There were some positive signs so there is reason to be optimistic. We’ll rebound from this rough stretch we have had to endure. We’ll get back to work and get back in the win column. Every point is very important from this juncture of the season. We certainly have faced our share of challenges thus far. We’ll keep plugging.”
Penguins left wing Bryan Lerg and right wing Geoff Walker scored for the Penguins in the shootout. Right wing Linden Vey
scored the lone goal for the Monarchs in the shootout. Monarchs netminder Martin Jones
denied Penguins right wing Colin McDonald, center Jason Williams and center Ben Street. Penguins goaltender Scott Munroe stopped Monarchs center Justin Azevedo
, center Marc-Andre Cliche
, right wing Trent Hunter and right wing Brandon Kozun
The Monarchs opened the scoring at 12:55 of the first period when Azevedo wristed the puck past Munroe for his 12th goal of the season. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defenseman Brian Strait chased down a loose puck in the right corner of the Penguins zone and skated behind the net to the left corner with Cliche applying pressure. As Strait emerged from the left corner, he attempted to send a pass to Street to begin a breakout but Azevedo picked off the pass. Azevedo wristed a shot from the bottom of the left wing face-off circle beating Munroe on his glove side for the first goal of the game.
The Monarchs took a 2-0 lead at 18:21 of the opening frame with right wing Stefan Legein’s ninth goal of the season. Vey caused a turnover and held the puck in at the left point of the Penguins zone. Vey passed the puck down to Legein along the left wing half wall. Legein carried the puck to the left corner before cutting toward the net. As the right wing approached the back side of the net, he deflected a shot off the back of the right pad of Munroe and into the back of the net.
The Penguins scored their first goal of the game when left wing Brandon DeFazio wristed the puck past Monarchs goaltender Jeff Zatkoff
at the five-minute mark of the second period. Defenseman Joey Mormina passed the puck to McDonald entering the zone along the right wing boards. McDonald sent a rink width pass to DeFazio who corralled the puck before wristing a shot from the top of the left wing face-off circle for his eighth goal of the season.
Center Brian Gibbons tied the game at 2-2 at 9:08 of the second period. Lerg wristed a shot from the right wing face-off circle on Zatkoff which produced a rebound in front of the net. Right wing Paul Thompson tipped the puck in front of the net but could not corral the loose puck. Gibbons was able to poke his stick at the loose puck and sneak it past the outstretched right pad of Zatkoff for his ninth tally of the season.
The Penguins took a 3-2 lead on their third goal of the second period at 12:04. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defenseman Robert Bortuzzo controlled the loose puck after a near Monarchs goal. Bortuzzo sent an outlet pass to McDonald at the Penguins blueline along the left wing. McDonald spotted Williams streaking down the right wing boards and hit him with a pass at the Monarchs blueline. Williams got behind the Monarchs defense and went in on a break away before lifting a backhander top shelf over the right shoulder of Zatkoff for his ninth of the season.
The Penguins finished off the scoring in the middle stanza at 15:30 off the stick of forward Cody Chupp. DeFazio gained the Monarchs zone at the right point before sending a pass to Gibbons at the top of the left wing face-off circle. Gibbons centered a pass to Chupp in front of the net where he redirected the puck into the open net for his first goal of the season.
The Monarchs closed the deficit to 4-3 at 4:05 of the third period. Defenseman Patrick Mullen
sent a pass form the right point to center Robbie Czarnik at the top of the left wing face-off circle. Czarnik fired a shot on net that Vey redirected past Munroe for his 15th goal of the season.
Williams answered back 27 seconds later with his second goal of the game to give the Penguins a 5-3 advantage. Lerg took the puck into the Monarchs zone with a 2-on-1 breakaway. Lerg passed the puck from the right wing face-off circle, over Mullen’s stick and into the left face-off circle where Williams one-timed it past Zatkoff. Street also recorded an assist on Williams’ 10th tally of the season.
The Penguins stretched their lead to 6-3 when center Zach Sill scored his 10th goal of the season. Defazio shot the puck in on Zatkoff after taking a feed from defenseman Alexandra Picard. Zatkoff tried to clear the puck down the middle of the ice but it was intercepted by Sill who released a slap shot from the high slot for the goal at 4:48 of the third period.
Jones relieved Zatkoff between the pipes following the Penguins’ sixth goal of the game.
Czarnik stole the puck at center ice and broke down the left wing with nobody between him and Munroe. As the center slowed up in the left face-off circle, he snapped a wrist shot past the netminder’s blocker, off the crossbar and in for his eighth goal of the season at 10:53 of the third period. Czarnik’s unassisted tally brought the score to 6-4.
Vey’s deflection at 16:51 of the final frame brought the Monarchs to within one goal. Defenseman David Kolomatis
received a bouncing puck at the center point from Kozun. As Kolomatis attempted to corral the puck, the Penguins put on pressure. Kolomatis chipped the puck toward the net and the knuckler redirected off of Vey in the slot and into the net. Vey scored his 16th tally of the season and second goal of the night.
Hunter tied the game with only 48 seconds remaining in regulation. With Jones pulled for the extra attacker, the Monarchs cycled the puck in the Penguins zone. Defenseman Thomas Hickey
found Hunter along the right wing wall. Hunter carried the puck to the bottom of the right face-off circle before he wristed a shot into the far side of the net for his first goal in a Monarchs uniform. Azevedo also assisted on the tying goal.
Jones (13-14-2) took his second shootout loss of the season stopping all six shooters he faced during regulation and 2-of-5 shots in the shootout. Zatkoff (15-12-1) stopped 27-of-33 shots through just over two periods of play. Munroe (12-4-3) earned his 12th win of the season making 21 saves on 27 shots and denying 4-of-5 shootout snipers.
Manchester went 0-for-2 on the power play. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was 0-for-3 with the man advantage. Notables:
The Monarchs are currently on a six-game winless-streak (0-5-0-1)…The Monarchs scored four goals in the third period, the most in any one period this season…Right wing Linden Vey
finished the game with a plus-5 rating which marked a franchise record for plus/minus…Right wing Trent Hunter scored in his Monarchs debut…Center Marc-Andre Cliche
was unsuccessful in the shootout for the first time all season…Cliche has made a league best six shootout goals and is now 6-for-7 in the shootout this season.