PROVIDENCE, RI – The Manchester Monarchs' comeback came up short in a 3-1 loss to the Providence Bruins in front of 7,759 fans at the Dunkin' Donuts Center on Friday night.
Manchester (34-30-0-8, 76 points) is in third place in the Atlantic Division with eight games remaining in the regular season. Providence (40-25-2-5, 87 points) is in second place in the Atlantic Division.
The AHL's leading defenseman Johnny Boychuk picked up his 20th tally of the season to give Providence a 2-0 advantage at 11:37 of the middle frame. Defenseman Jeff Penner sent the puck behind the Monarchs net to center Martin St. Pierre. With Boychuk positioned at the right point, St. Pierre passed the puck for the one-timer. Boychuk's shot fluttered through traffic and into the net for the two-goal lead.
The Bruins struck first with center Zach Hamill's 12th goal of the season at 4:34 of the first period. Right wing Mikko Lehtonen carried the puck into the Monarchs zone and put the brakes on along the half wall. Hamill skated in, swooped up the puck and cut toward the net from the right wing. The center skated across the slot from right to left and moved the puck from his forehand to backhand before he slipped it past Monarchs' goaltender Jonathan Bernier.
At the 13-minute mark of the third period, the Monarchs pulled to within one tally with left wing Vladimir Dravecky's sixth goal of the season. Center Marc-Andre Cliche chipped the puck up the ice to defenseman Viatcheslav Voynov who carried it around the boards and pulled up behind the Bruins' net. Voynov fed the puck out in front to Dravecky who slipped a backhand shot past netminder Tuukka Rask.
Center Wacey Rabbit finished off the Monarchs with an empty net goal at 18:48 of the final period.
Bernier (20-21-4) took his 21st loss with 30 saves on 32 shots. Rask (31-19-3) earned his 31st win of the season with 23 saves.
Manchester went 0-for-4 on the power play. Providence was 0-for-6 with the man advantage.