SPRINGFIELD, MA – Center Jason Jaspers and left wing Ryan Craig each collected four points as the Springfield Falcons edged the Manchester Monarchs 5-4 at the MassMutual Center in front of a crowd of 2,875 fans on Saturday night.
Manchester (16-5-1-3, 36 points) remains in first place in the Atlantic Division. Springfield (14-9-1-3, 32 points) is in third place in the Atlantic Division.
The Falcons struck first with a power play goal by Jaspers at 11:30 of the first period. Springfield sent the puck in from the point on Monarchs goaltender Adam Hauser. With plenty of traffic in front and the loose puck, Craig and forward Ryan Vesce whacked at the puck. After several swings by the Falcons, Jaspers was able to get wood on the puck and find the back of the net to give Springfield a 1-0 lead.
Manchester answered back with an unassisted shorthanded goal by right wing Petr Kanko at 14:54 of the first period. Kanko stripped the puck away from Springfield in the Monarchs zone and then sprinted past two defensemen down the right side. Crossing in front of the net, Kanko sent a shot over Springfield's goaltender Gerald Coleman for his sixth of the season.
The Monarchs were unable to clear the puck and Craig capitalized with his 11th of the season at 19:19 of the first period. Jaspers tossed the bouncing puck over to Craig who fired a shot from the slot past Hauser on the glove side. Left wing David Spina assisted on the goal to give the Falcons a 2-1 lead.
Just 16-seconds into the middle frame, left wing Jeff Giuliano tied the game at 2-2. Coleman made the initial save on left wing Noah Clarke's shot but Giuliano was on the doorstep for the rebound and his fifth of the season. Defenseman Marty Wilford also assisted on the tying goal.
On the power play, right wing Brad Smyth sent a backhander from behind the net to the stick of Clarke who poked in his fifth of the season. Wilford started the play at the point that gave the Monarchs a 3-2 lead at 3:07 of the second period.
At 7:53 of the final frame, Springfield defenseman Doug O'Brien evened things up at 3-3. O'Brien sent a shot from the point through several screens for his third of the season. Left wing Dennis Packard and Jaspers assisted on the tying goal.
Left wing Jeff Tambellini put the Monarchs ahead with his 15th of the season at 12:38 of the third period. Center Connor James took a pass from Kanko and sped down the right side towards Coleman. James threw the puck towards the net and Tambellini chipped it in for the 4-3 lead.
Jaspers collected his second goal and fourth point of the night at 13:17 of the third period to tie the game at 4-4. Craig sent a shot in on Hauser who made the save but Jaspers fired in the rebound for his 11th of the season. Defenseman Anders Eriksson also assisted on the goal.
Craig scored the game-winner on the power play at 18:56 of the final frame. Eriksson sent the puck to the front of the net that landed perfectly on Craig's stick who snuck the puck past Hauser for his second of the night and 12th of the season. Right wing Norm Milley assisted on the goal to give the Falcons their second consecutive victory over the Monarchs.
Hauser (11-4-2) took his fourth loss of the season stopping 30 shots. Coleman (11-4-1) earned his 11th win of the season, second consecutive victory over the Monarchs, with 25 saves.
Manchester went 1-for-5 on the power play. Springfield was 2-for-8 with the man advantage.