MANCHESTER, NH – The Manchester Monarchs lost in a shootout to the Hershey Bears, 3-2, after both teams combined for 88 shots on goal in front of 7,526 fans at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Sunday afternoon.
Manchester (33-29-0-8, 74 points) regained sole possession of third place in the Atlantic Division. Hershey (44-19-1-6, 95 points) remains in second place in the East Division.
Monarchs' netminder Jonathan Bernier turned away 6-of-9 shootout attempts by the Bears while Hershey's goaltender Michal Neuvirth was able to stop 7-of-9 Manchester attempts in the shootout loss for the home team. Left wing Matt Moulson and center Brian Boyle scored shootout tallies against Neuvirth. Center Kyle Wilson, right wing Francois Bouchard and center Keith Aucoin tallied for Hershey in the shootout.
The Bears wasted no time in the game as they scored on the power play just 51 seconds into the first period. Centers Aucoin and Alexandre Giroux cycled the puck through the zone and found right wing Graham Mink in the left face-off circle. Mink ripped a shot toward the right side of the net as Bernier was moving to his right away from the shooter. The puck snuck inside the right post for Mink's 31st tally of the year.
Able to notch his 16th goal of the campaign, right wing Trevor Lewis tipped one past Neuvirth at 18:11 of the first period. Center Marty Murray held the disc in the lower right corner before sending it to the slot where defenseman Viatcheslav Voynov sizzled one toward the net. Lewis, standing in front of the net, was able to get a piece of it and tie the game at one goal apiece on the power play.
The Monarchs were able to take the lead 30 seconds before heading into the locker room for the second intermission. Center Justin Azevedo found defenseman Tom Preissing in the right circle who was able to lure Neuvirth out of position. With Murray waiting patiently in the crease, Preissing found him all alone for the go-ahead goal.
The scored evened up one more time at 3:58 of the final frame with Giroux's 50th goal of the year with the Bear's second power play tally of the evening. Defenseman Staffan Kronwall dished the puck to fellow defenseman Sami Lepisto who then found Giroux in the right circle. The center fired a slap shot at the cage, beating Bernier over his left shoulder.
Bernier stopped 37-of-39 Hershey shots for his fourth shootout loss of the year. Neuvirth halted 47-of-49 Manchester shots for his fifth win of the year.
Manchester went 1-for-4 with an extra attacker while Hershey was 2-for-3 with the man advantage.