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MONARCHS FALL TO DEVILS

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
MANCHESTER, NH – Center Rod Pelley atoned for his first period high-sticking major with a goal in the shootout as the Lowell Devils skated to a 4-3 shootout win over the Manchester Monarchs in front of 6,816 fans at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Friday night.

Manchester (23-23-4-3) is in fifth place in the Atlantic Division with 53 points. Lowell (14-28-5-4) is in seventh place in the Atlantic Division with 37 points.

Monarchs center Trevor Lewis scored the lone shootout goal as Devils goaltender Frank Doyle denied center David Meckler, right wing Lauri Tukonen, left wing Matt Moulson and center Gabe Gauthier. Manchester's netminder Daniel Taylor stopped center Ryan Murphy and left wing Noah Clarke in the shootout but right wing Grant Marshall and Pelley found the back of the net for the win.

The Monarchs struck first on a power play goal by Meckler at the 15:43 mark of the opening frame. With Pelley in the box for catching Lewis with a high stick, the Monarchs went to work on the man advantage. After cycling the puck in Lowell's zone, Gauthier freed the disk to defenseman Peter Harrold at the center point. Harrold then unleashed a slap shot that goaltender Frank Doyle seemingly gathered up, but the puck squirted free to the netminder's left and Meckler dove around the goalie to bank the disk into the net. The tally was Meckler's 15th on the season.

Manchester doubled their lead four minutes and six seconds into the second period on right wing Kevin Westgarth's fourth goal of the year. Stationed at the half wall, Tukonen found defenseman Drew Bagnall in the high slot where the blueliner released a slap shot that passed through a screen, off of Westgarth and into the net.

The Monarchs extended their lead to three on Tukonen's sixth goal of the season, scored at the 11:05 mark of the middle frame. After a Devil mishandled a pass behind Lowell's net, the puck bounced free to Tukonen in front of the crease and the winger buried it past the blocker side of Doyle. Westgarth collected the only assist on Tukonen's marker.

The Monarchs returned the favor, giving the Devils a free goal at 13:30 of the second period. Devils center Erik Rasmussen carried the puck into the Monarchs zone along the right wing and flipped an innocent backhander off the pads of Taylor, but the puck rebounded off defenseman Jon Klemm and into the net. The goal was credited to Rasmussen for his first tally of the year, with the lone assist going to left wing Stephen Gionta.

The Devils closed the gap and came to within one goal on center Petr Vrana's ninth goal of the year at 16:51 of the second stanza. After defenseman Olivier Magnan's shot from the left point hit a screen in front and fooling a sprawled Taylor in the process, Vrana was there to collect the free puck and slip it into an open net. Assists went to Magnan and defenseman Sean Zimmerman.

Persistence paid off as Lowell tied the game with yet another goal off an odd bounce, this one resulting from a shot by Devils defenseman Mark Fraser in the slot that ricocheted off the leg of right wing Barry Tallackson and toward the net. Taylor, reacting to the initial shot, dove back but could not keep the puck from crossing the line.

Taylor (8-4-1) turned aside 32-of-35 shots in the shootout loss. Doyle (10-20-3) also stopped 32-of-35 shots in the Devils win.

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