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Monarchs Beached in Connecticut

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
HARTFORD, CT – Center Kris Newbury recorded a goal and two assists, including the game-winning goal, as the Connecticut Whale posted a 5-1 victory over the Manchester Monarchs at the XL Center on Saturday evening.

Manchester (17-10-1-1) draws their 10th loss of the season, but remains in first place in the Atlantic Division with 36 points.  Connecticut (11-11-2-4) collects their 11th win of the season, placing them fourth in the Atlantic Division with 28 points.

“Tonight’s game in Hartford was a dismal collective effort,” explained Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris following the defeat.  “We need to bounce back tomorrow afternoon and play with more discipline, more structure and commitment.”

“It’s time we understand that it’s important to take ownership in this club and raise the bar.  We need more consistency as we move forward with this young team,” said Morris.

Newbury scored his third goal of the season, the game-winning goal, at 12:23 of the first period.  The post-goal face-off was won back to defenseman Jyri Niemi, who was positioned at the Connecticut blueline.  Taking several strides forward, Niemi passed the puck off the left side boards up to Newbury, streaking into the zone.  Skating directly towards the net, Newbury’s wrist shot beat Monarchs goaltender Jeff Zatkoff five-hole for Connecticut’s second goal of the game.

Defenseman Ryan McDonagh scored his first goal of the season, a power play goal, at 12:11 of the first period, 12 seconds prior to Newbury’s eventual game-winning goal.  An initial shot by a Whale forward was turned aside by Zatkoff.  The rebound was collected by defenseman Wade Redden, who skated back to the left point.  Passing the puck to his defensive partner at the right point, McDonagh fired the puck across the slot and into the bottom left corner of the net to give the Whale an early 1-0 lead.

Right wing Mats Zuccarello scored his 11th goal of the season at 15:45 of the first period, giving Connecticut a three goal advantage late in the third period.  Skating into the zone, Zuccarello fired an initial shot on goal that was turned aside by Zatkoff, positioned at the left post.  The shot deflected off of Zatkoff’s pads and trickled into the left wing corner.  Newbury collected the rebound behind the goal and passed the puck forward to Zuccarello, who crashed the net following his first shot and forced the puck past Zatkoff.  Left wing Brodie Dupont also collected an assist on Zuccarello’s goal.

Center Justin Azevedo scored the Monarchs lone goal of the game at 19:39 of the first period.  Positioned at the right point, defenseman Viatcheslav Voynov passed the puck along the blueline to defensive partner Thomas Hickey.  From the left point, Hickey passed the puck forward to Azevedo, positioned at the bottom of the left face-off circle.  Azevedo wristed a shot on goal that snuck underneath the pads of Connecticut goaltender Chad Johnson for his ninth goal of the season.

Zuccarello scored his second goal of the game at 11:57 of the second period to give the Whale a 4-1 lead.  Following a turnover by the Monarchs at the top of the slot, Newbury skated the puck into the right wing corner.  Slowly circling with the puck, Newbury passed the puck across the goal crease to a streaking Zuccarello who found a lane and fired the puck home for his 12th goal of the season.

Center Evgeny Grachev scored Connecticut’s fifth goal of the game at 13:09 of the second period.  Entering the offensive zone with the puck, Grachev dropped a pass back to right wing Dale Weise, who was trailing the play.  Weise fired a blast from the top of the right face-off circle that was initially stopped by Zatkoff.  The rebound was collected by Grachev near the right post.  Skating right to left, Grachev roofed the puck over Zatkoff for his fourth goal of the season.

Zatkoff (9-9-1) drew his ninth loss of the season, making 31 saves on 36 shots on goal.  Johnson (8-10-3) collected his eighth victory of the season, halting 22-of-23 shots on net. 

Manchester went 0-for-2 on the power play.  Connecticut was 1-for-7 with the man advantage.

Notables:  Tonight’s loss to the Connecticut Whale was Manchester’s first loss of the season against the New York Rangers’ AHL affiliate (3-1-0-0)…Both teams combined for 92 penalty minutes in the contest, a season-high mark…Manchester’s 52 combined penalty minutes in Saturday night’s game is a season-high in that category…Connecticut’s 40 combined penalty minutes is the season-high total for a Monarchs opponent…With his first period goal, center Justin Azevedo tied left wing David Meckler for the team lead in goals scored with nine…Defenseman Viatcheslav Voynov has five assists in his last five games (0-5=5).

The Monarchs return to action on Sunday, December 11 as they host the Portland Pirates at the Verizon Wireless Arena in a 3:00 p.m. contest.  The Monarchs are asking fans to bring a stuffed animal to toss onto the ice after Manchester scores their first goal Sunday afternoon.  The stuffed animals will be collected on the ice and donated to families in need this holiday season.  Catch all of the play-by-play action of Monarchs hockey with Ken Cail on the Monarchs Radio Network WGAM 900/1250 AM and at
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