MANCHESTER, NH – Goaltender Jonathan Bernier
stopped 34 shots in regulation and three shootout snipers as the Manchester Monarchs fell to the Providence Bruins 3-2 in a shootout in front of 5,967 fans at the Dunkin' Donuts Center on Sunday evening. With the Monarchs earning one point in the game and the Springfield Falcons (34-33-5-5, 78 points) falling to the Worcester Sharks, Manchester has clinched the fourth and final playoff berth in the 2008 Calder Cup playoffs. The Monarchs will face-off with the Bruins in a best of seven series staring in Providence on Wednesday, April 16. Tickets to the Monarchs home playoff games will go on sale at 10 a.m. on Monday, April 7 at the Verizon Wireless Arena, online at www.manchestermonarchs.com and through Ticketmaster.
Manchester (38-30-5-5) is in fourth place in the Atlantic Division with 86 points. Providence (53-16-3-4) is in first place in the Atlantic Division with 113 points.
Right wing Jordan Knackstedt and center Nate Thompson beat Bernier in the shootout for the Bruins victory. Providence goaltender Adam Courchaine denied all four snipers from Manchester.
Following a scoreless first period, Knackstedt stuffed in his first goal of the season at 3:46 of the second period to give the Bruins the first tally on the scoreboard. Providence left wing T.J. Trevelyan flipped the puck on net from the right wing boards. Bernier made the initial save but the rebound found itself on the stick of Knackstedt who was in front of the net for the quick shot and 1-0 lead. Defenseman Brett Skinner collected an assist on the goal.
Monarchs right wing John Zeiler evened the game at 1-1 with a fluke goal at 14:01 of the first period. Defenseman Joe Piskula sent the puck around the back of the net where Courchaine went to contain the pass. The puck took an awkward bounce off the endboards and skipped over to Zeiler in the right face-off circle. With Courchaine out of the net, Zeiler tossed the puck into the open net for his fifth goal of the season.
The Monarchs took the lead at 7:29 of the final period when left wing Matt Moulson capitalized on his 28th goal of the season when the Manchester was on the power play. Defenseman Troy Milam carried the puck behind the Bruins net and dished it out to Moulson who was standing in the slot for the one-timer into the net. Rookie right wing Teddy Purcell earned an assist on the go-ahead goal.
Less than a minute later, left wing Pascal Pelletier brought the score back to even as he tallied his 36th goal of the season at 8:19 of the final stanza. Pelletier carried the puck into the Monarchs zone at the right point and then cut to his left through the Monarchs defense. At the left face-off circle, the winger snapped a wrist shot that beat Bernier on his glove side. Defenseman Matt Hunwick and Skinner assisted on the tying goal.
Bernier took the shootout loss by stopping 34-of-36 shots in regulation and 3-of 5 shootout snipers. Courchaine made 21 saves in regulation and stopped all four Monarchs shooters for his first win in a Bruins uniform.
Manchester went 1-for-6 on the power play. Providence was 1-for-6 with the man advantage.