PORTLAND, ME ? The Manchester Monarchs battled back to earn one point in their 4-3 shootout loss to the Portland Pirates in front of 3,481 fans at the Cumberland County Civic Center on Saturday night.
Manchester (2-2-1-1) is tied for third place in the Atlantic Division with six points. Portland (2-4-0-0) is tied for fifth place in the Atlantic Division with four points.
Center Matt Keith was the lone player to score in the shootout as he beat Monarchs goaltender Erik Ersberg. Monarchs forwards Matt Moulson, Teddy Purcell, Scott Parse and Lauri Tukonen and defenseman Brian Boyle were all denied by Pirates netminder Mike McKenna in the shootout. Ersberg stopped forwards Bobby Ryan, Jason King and Stephen Dixon.
The Pirates put up a 2-0 lead in the first half of the first period with two power play goals leading the Monarchs to play a little catch up. Center Andrew Ebbett started things off for Portland with his second tally of the season at 1:51 of the opening frame while Monarchs defenseman Joe Piskula sat in the penalty box for hooking. Defenseman Aaron Rome sent a blast from the point that traveled through traffic, tipped off of Ebbett and hit the twine behind Ersberg. Defenseman Brian Salcido earned an assist on the first goal of the game.
Salcido doubled the Pirates lead at 7:25 of the first period with his first mark of the season. Skating with the man advantage once again, Salcido found himself with the puck at the center point. Tossing a wrist shot toward the net, the defenseman watched the puck weave through numerous screens and around Ersberg for a 2-0 lead. Ryan and left wing Clay Wilson took credit for the assists.
Moulson cut Portland's lead in half before heading to the locker room for the first intermission with his first goal of the game and fourth tally of the season at 18:57. Center Gabe Gauthier sent the puck behind the net and off the end boards. The puck took a weird bounce off the boards and finally rested in the Pirates crease. Moulson was there to poke the puck past McKenna and into the net for a 2-1 score. Purcell earned his sixth assist in four games.
Following a scoreless second period, Boyle tied the game at 2-2 with his first goal of the season at 2:04 of the final stanza. Boyle and center Trevor Lewis broke into the Pirates zone on a 2-on-1 breakaway. Lewis carried the puck along the right boards and fed a pass to Boyle who was skating down the ice with him for the one-timer. Defenseman Jeff Likens recorded an assist on the tying goal.
King put the Pirates up 3-2 at 3:44 of the third period with a one-timer from the slot. On the power play, Salcido sent the puck up to Ebbett who found King in the slot for the go ahead goal.
Moulson scored his team leading fifth tally at 5:40 of the final period to tie the game at 3-3. The Young Guns went to work on the power play as Gauthier and Purcell cycled the puck. Gauthier sent a pass to Moulson at the right face-off dot who beat McKenna for the 3-3 tie.
Ersberg took shootout loss by stopping 22-of-25 shots. McKenna earned the shootout win with 34 saves.
Manchester went 1-for-4 on the power play. Portland was 3-for-6 with the man advantage.
Gauthier leads the league and the Monarchs with 11 points (3-8=11) followed by Purcell with 10 points (2-8=10) and Moulson with eight points (5-3=8).