MANCHESTER, NH – The Manchester Monarchs came within one goal of catching the Portland Pirates but fell short in the 5-4 loss in front of 5,621 fans at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Sunday evening.
Manchester (1-2-0-0) is tied for fourth place in the Atlantic Division with two points. Portland (3-0-0-1) leads the Atlantic Division with seven points.
The Pirates took first blood at 6:10 of the opening stanza when forward Ryan Carter scooped up the puck from right wing Shawn Thornton and scored on a breakaway for his second goal of the season. Carter broke away from the Monarchs defense for a one-on-one battle with Monarchs goaltender Barry Brust and snapped the puck inside the left post to give Portland a 1-0 lead.
Following a dangerous hit by Pirates captain Thornton on Monarchs right wing John Zeiler, Portland doubled their lead with a tally from right wing Colby Genoway. Center Petteri Wirtanen dug the puck out of the left wing corner and tossed it into the crease for the one-timer by Genoway. Thornton was credited with an assist on the play at 12:42 of the first period.
Portland added a power play goal to their scoring fury at 3:27 of the middle frame. Left wing Drew Miller threw the puck on net and center Tim Brent was waiting to jam in the rebound for his fourth goal of the season. Right wing Pierre Parenteau assisted on the goal to bring the Pirates lead to 3-0.
Monarchs left wing Noah Clarke started a comeback for the Monarchs with two power play goals in the second period. At 5:22, right wing Konstantin Pushkarev picked up the puck behind the Pirates net and passed it up to Clarke at the right face-off dot. Clarke wound up and fired a blistering slap shot into the top left corner of the goal behind Portland's netminder Mike Wall for his second of the year. Defenseman Eric Werner earned his first of three assists on the night.
The Pirates dug themselves into a bit of a hole and had four men in the penalty box when Clarke buried his second of the night while the Monarchs were on a 4-on-3 power play at 10:35 of the second period. Werner handed off the puck to defenseman Peter Harrold at the hash marks between the circles. Harrold sent a drive in on Wall that was blocked to the right of the net and right onto Clarke's stick for his second of the night, third of the season.
Defenseman Brett Skinner added another power play goal for the Pirates at 1:04 of the third period. As Portland skated into the offensive zone, Skinner sent a wrist shot at the net that snuck past Brust for his second goal of the season. Miller and Parenteau assisted on the insurance goals to give the Pirates a 4-2 lead.
One-minute and forty seconds later, left wing Bjorn Melin capitalized on a loose puck that the Monarchs could not clear for his third goal of the season. Genoway put a shot on net that Brust was unable to cover. With the goaltender sprawled out at the top of the crease, Melin flipped the puck into the open net for a 5-2 lead in the game. Defenseman Bruno St. Jacques collected his third assist of the season on the play.
The Monarchs pushed for one more comeback with in the final 10 minutes of the game with goals by left wings Ned Lukacevic and Petr Kanko. At 13:52, Clarke fed the puck over to Lukacevic at the left edge of the crease for the one-timer and his first of the season. Pushkarev also assisted on the goal to make it 5-3.
With less than four minutes remaining, Kanko picked up the rebound from Werner's shot for his first of the season. On the power play, Werner fired a shot on net that left wing Jeff Giuliano redirected and Wall blocked. Kanko flipped in the rebound to finalize the game at 5-4.
Brust took the loss stopping 31 shots. Wall earned his second victory of the season with 18 saves.
Manchester went 3-for-7 on the power play. Portland was 2-for-7 with the man advantage.