|Elkins' team-leading 14th goal tied the game for the Monarchs.
HARTFORD, CT – The Manchester Monarchs battled back to tie the game but fell in overtime, 3-2, to the Hartford Wolf Pack at the XL Center on Friday night.
Manchester (26-13-2-4) is in first place in the Atlantic Division with 58 points. Hartford (23-16-1-4) is ranked fourth in the Atlantic Division with 51 points.
“It took two periods for our team to answer the bell,” said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “Our performance expectations are much higher than what we saw tonight. A lackluster effort following the All-Star break has been addressed and there is no room for complacency. We have to have more contributions from more players from the drop of the puck to be successful.”
After the Monarchs were called for too many men on the ice, left wing Dane Byers redirected the puck past Monarchs goaltender Jonathan Bernier to win the game with a power play tally at 2:20 of the extra frame. Cycling the puck in the Monarchs zone, defenseman Ilkka Heikkinen sent a pass to center Paul Crowder in the left wing circle. Snapping the puck toward the net, Crowder’s pass was redirected by Byers and across the goal line for the 3-2 win.
Center Gabe Gauthier backhanded in a shorthanded goal at 10:36 of the first period to put the first goal on the scoreboard for Manchester. Defenseman Doug Nolan sprung center Marc-Andre Cliche in the neutral zone. Cliche carried the puck into the Wolf Pack’s zone and down the right wing. Once inside the circle, Cliche blasted a slap shot that goaltender Chad Johnson saved with his pads. The puck fell in front of the netminder and Gauthier, who drove to the net, flipped a backhand shot over Johnson for his sixth goal of the season and a 1-0 advantage.
During the same power play that led to Gauthier’s shorthanded tally, Wolf Pack forward Brodie Dupont picked up his eighth goal of the season at 11:43 of the opening period. Center Evgeny Grachev passed the puck from the left wing half wall around the boards to defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti behind the Monarchs cage. Sanguinetti found Dupont in the right face-off circle for the one-timer that beat Bernier.
Defenseman Nigel Williams scored his second goal of the season at 14:53 of the first frame to give the Wolf Pack a 2-1 lead. Nolan attempted to clear the puck from behind the Monarchs net but center Corey Locke stole the pass and quickly found Williams in the slot. Williams blasted a one-timer into the net for the Wolf Pack’s first lead of the game.
Following a scoreless second period, the Monarchs evened the game at 2-2 with center Corey Elkins’ team-leading 14th goal of the season at 9:36 of the final frame. Defenseman Alec Martinez narrowly kept the puck in at the blueline and sent it into the left corner. The Monarchs cycled the puck through the zone before right wing Geoff Walker found Martinez in the high slot. The second-year defenseman fired a shot on net that Elkins tipped past Johnson to tie the game and push overtime.
Bernier (18-11-4) took his second overtime loss to Hartford this season, stopping 33-of-36 shots. Johnson (14-7-2) earned his 14th win of the season with 27 saves on 29 shots.
Manchester went 0-for-2 on the power play. Hartford was 2-for-5 with the man advantage.
Notables: Manchester is 3-4-1-2 in their last 10 games…The Monarchs have fallen in overtime twice this season, both to the Wolf Pack in Hartford…Center Gabe Gauthier scored his first shorthanded goal of the season, third of his career and the team’s seventh this season…Rookie center Corey Elkins scored his team-leading 14th goal of the season.