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Monarchs Fall to Pens

by Kim Mueller / Los Angeles Kings
Jeff Zatkoff took his seventh loss of the season on Sunday.

MANCHESTER, NH – Left wing Tim Wallace scored the game-winning goal as the Manchester Monarchs fell to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, 4-2, at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Sunday afternoon.

Manchester (32-20-2-5) dropped to third place in the Atlantic Division with 71 points. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (29-26-1-1) is in fourth place in the East Division with 60 points.

“We put ourselves in the position to win but our effort in the third was listless,” explained Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris after Wednesday’s defeat. “This was a game we needed to be mentally tough because they are a tough team. Our energy in the third period was subpar. We needed someone to step up and nobody did.”

Wallace recorded the game-winning goal 5:03 into the third period. With the Penguins killing off a Manchester power play, center Joe Vitale skated up the left wing boards toward Monarchs goaltender Jeff Zatkoff. Once reaching the crease, Vitale deked around Zatkoff to move the netminder out of position. The center passed the puck across the crease to the right face-off circle where a streaking Wallace roofed the puck over the outstretched Zatkoff to put Wilkes-Barre/Scranton up 3-1.

Penguins left wing Luca Caputi scored a goal at 7:46 of the first period to give Wilkes-Barre/Scranton the early 1-0 lead. Monarchs defenseman Joe Piskula was carrying the puck in the right wing corner when he lost an edge and fell to the ice. Center Mark Letestu picked his pocket and fed the puck from the corner toward the crease. Caputi backhanded the feed past Zatkoff for his 23rd goal of the season.

Monarchs center Justin Azevedo knotted the score at 1-1 with his seventh tally of the season at 17:15 of the first period. On the power play, defenseman David Kolomatis held the puck along the left wing boards and saw Monarchs left wing Bud Holloway skating behind the net from right to left. Kolomatis dished the puck to Holloway in the left wing end boards near the bottom of the cage. Azevedo bolted toward the crease following the pass and waited for the puck. Holloway sent a pass through traffic and Azevedo wristed the puck into the bottom right corner of the net to tie the game.

Azevedo scored his second goal of the game and his eighth tally of the season at 1:44 of the second period to give the Monarchs their only lead of the game. On a 3-on-1 break for the Monarchs, Azevedo skated up the right wing flanked by two Monarchs players on his left. Instead of passing, Azevedo controlled the puck from neutral ice and to the right face-off dot in the Penguins zone. The center wristed a shot that beat Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goaltender John Curry on the glove side. The goal was unassisted and shorthanded.

Forward Eric Tangradi scored his 13th goal of the season at 4:22 of the second period to bring the score to a 2-2 tie. With the Penguins on the power play, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton set up in the Monarchs zone. Center Wyatt Smith held the puck along the right wing boards and made a quick pass to right wing Chris Conner behind the right side of Zatkoff. Tangradi skated down the center of the ice and blasted a feed from Conner past Zatkoff to knot the score at two.

Center Mark Letestu scored his 18th goal of the season at 14:46 in the third period to provide insurance for the Penguins. Center Dustin Jeffrey shot a puck that missed the open net wide. Caputi then gathered the stray puck and fired a second shot on net that was kicked aside by Zatkoff, but the rebound went directly to Letestu. He fired the puck over the top of a sprawling Zatkoff to extend the lead to 4-2.

Zatkoff (8-7-0) took the loss, his seventh dropped decision of the season, stopping 20-of-24 shots. Curry (19-16-1) recorded his team-leading 19th victory of the season, halting 25-of-27 shots on goal.

Both Manchester and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton were 1-for-5 with the man advantage. Notables: For the first time this season, the Monarchs both scored and allowed a shorthanded goal in one game...Manchester outshot their opponent for only the 14th time this season…The Monarchs have a record of 7-5-1-1 when they are outshooting their opponent…Left wing Bud Holloway has nine points (1-8=9) in his last seven games…Center Justin Azevedo has 11 points (6-5=11) in 11 games since returning from injury.
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