PROVIDENCE, RI – Goaltender Jason LaBarbera stopped 29-of-30 shots as the Manchester Monarchs topped the Providence Bruins 2-1 in front of 8,741 fans at the Dunkin' Donuts Center on Friday night.
Manchester (40-19-6-1) is leading the Atlantic Division with 87 points. Providence (39-27-1-3) is in second place in the Atlantic Division with 82 points.
After dropping a 5-0 decision to the Bruins on Sunday, March 18, the Monarchs started off strong with two in the first half of the game to take the 2-0 lead. Center Marty Murray received credit for the first tally, a power play goal at 17:55 of the opening period. Defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky shot the puck from the point. Bruins netminder Hannu Toivonen made the initial save but center Gabe Gauthier and left wing Matt Moulson chipped at the rebound. Toivonen thought he had the puck covered under his pads but it snuck free for Murray to slide it over the goal line for his 10th goal of the season.
Defenseman Brendan Buckley made it 2-0 with his second goal of the season at 8:47 of the second period. As the Monarchs power play came to an end, LaBarbera handed the puck over to defenseman Doug Nolan who carried it up the ice and into the Bruins zone. Nolan sent a pass to Buckley who set up between the left face-off circle and the blueline. Buckley wound up and fired a slap shot on net to double the Monarchs lead.
Defenseman Dwayne Zinger cut the Monarchs lead in half with his third tally of the season at 2:09 of the final frame. Center Ben Walter sent the puck over to Zinger who unleashed a shot from the top of the left face-off circle that beat LaBarbera on the blocker side and sent the water bottle on the top of the net flying. Defenseman Matt Lashoff also assisted on the Bruins lone goal.
LaBarbera earned the victory with 31 saves. Toivonen took the loss stopping 24-of-26 shots.
Manchester went 1-for-2 on the power play. Providence was 0-for-6 with the man advantage.