HARTFORD, CT – Goaltender Daniel Taylor turned aside 31 shots as the Manchester Monarchs skated past the Hartford Wolf Pack 3-1 in front of 6,946 fans at the XL Center on Saturday night.
Manchester (29-28-5-4) is in fifth place in the Atlantic Division with 67 points, three points behind the fourth place Springfield Falcons (30-26-5-5, 70 points). Hartford (39-19-2-6) is in second place in the Atlantic Division with 86 points.
Center David Meckler gave the Monarchs a 2-0 lead with his 18th goal of the season and the eventual game-winner at 8:07 of the second period. On the power play, center Gabe Gauthier received a pass from defenseman Jeff Likens as the Monarchs cycled the puck. Gauthier found Meckler down low on the left side for a quick wrist shot that beat Wolf Pack netminder David LeNeveu.
Left wing Matt Moulson put the first mark on the scoreboard at 2:08 of the middle frame following a scoreless first period. Rookie defenseman P.J. Atherton, playing in only his fifth game in a Monarchs uniform, sent the puck toward the net. The biscuit bounced through traffic and ultimately off of Moulson's stick and past LeNeveu for the first tally of the night. Center Trevor Lewis also earned an assist on Moulson's team leading 24th goal of the season.
The Wolf Pack put the pressure on late in the second stanza and it paid off. Left wing Jordan Owens picked up the rebound following two opportunities by right wing Hugh Jessiman that Taylor denied. Owens finished off what Jessiman was trying to do by tallying his third goal of the season at 19:07 of the middle frame. Left wing Josh Gratton assisted on Hartford's lone goal of the game.
The insurance goal for the Monarchs came at 12:10 of the third period as right wing Lauri Tukonen poked in his own rebound for his eighth goal of the season. Meckler won the face-off to the left of LeNeveu and gave the puck to Tukonen. The third year pro's first shot was stopped by the netminder but at point-blank range Tukonen stuffed the puck over the goal line for the extra helper.
Taylor earned the win stopping 31-of-32 shots. LeNeveu took the loss with 19 saves.
Manchester went 1-for-5 on the power play. Hartford was 0-for-8 on the man advantage.