MMANCHESTER, NH – Goaltender Jason LaBarbera stopped 41 shots as the Manchester Monarchs scored four goals to beat the Hartford Wolf Pack 4-1 in front of 6,712 fans at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Wednesday night.
Manchester (39-16-6-1) is leading the Atlantic Division with 85 points. Hartford (36-21-3-0) ranks second in the Atlantic Division with 75 points.Monarchs Fend Off Wolf PackMurray, Schmidt, Tverdovsky each collect two points in win
Manchester jumped on the board first with a goal from left wing Peter Kanko at 4:42 of the opening period. Defenseman Bryan Schmidt sent a pass to center ice where left wing Lauri Tukonen tipped it across to Kanko along the right side. Kanko beat a Hartford defenseman and broke in on the goaltender Al Montoya. As he reached the net, Kanko slipped a low wrister through Montoya's legs for his seventh goal of the season.
Left wing Dany Roussin doubled the Monarchs lead to 2-0 at 8:48 of the first period. Center Marty Murray sent a pass to Roussin as he streaked down the left side. When he reached the left face off dot, Roussin let off a wrist shot that beat Montoya low on the stick side. Schmidt collected his second assist of the night on the goal.
After a goaltender switch, the Monarchs quickly made it 3-0 as defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky collected his second goal of the season at 17:43 of the opening stanza. Murray fed the puck to Tverdovsky at the right point. The veteran defenseman moved down to the left endline and sent a pass to the front of the net. The puck caromed off the foot of Hartford's defenseman Ivan Baranka and went top shelf over the arm of Hartford's goaltender Alex Westlund. Monarchs center Gabe Gauthier also earned an assist on the goal.
The home team increased their lead to 4-0 with a goal from center Shay Stephenson at 5:02 of the second period. Kanko tipped a pass back to Tverdovsky at the right point who sent a slap shot on Westlund. The goaltender made the save but sent a rebound out in front where Stephenson was waiting. The center uncorked a low snap shot beating the Hartford's back-stopper through the legs.
Left wing Nigel Dawes put the Wolf Pack on the board with a shorthanded goal at 11:58 of the final frame. He collected an errant pass along the right side. Dawes skated in on LaBarbera and fired a wrist shot between the netminder's legs for his 15th goal of the season.
LaBarbera earned the win with 41 saves. Montoya took the loss stopping 2-of-4 shots he faced. Westlund stopped 20-of-22 shots
Manchester went 1-for-5 on the power play. Hartford was 0-for-6 with the man advantage.