Manchester (24-14-1-1) took their 14th loss of the season, remaining in first place in the Atlantic Division with 50 points on the season. With their 21st victory of the season, Portland (21-11-4-1) inches two points closer to the Monarchs in the standings, placing them second overall in the Atlantic Division with 47 points.
“We scored early in this one, however we were quick to find ways to give goals right back,” explained Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris following the game. “Mental errors on our part were costly. There is a fine line between winning and losing. It’s time we buckle down in our end and start to take advantage of our chances for. We need more alert play and better awareness going forward.”
“There needs to be more commitment and consistency,” said Morris. “To lose it late like that stings. We sure could have won it with the chances we had. As a group, we need to bear down. Execution continues to be a strong message.”
Left wing Dennis McCauley scored the game-winning goal for Portland with 2:22 remaining in regulation. In transition, right wing Mark Mancari passed McCauley the puck from the defensive zone. Skating past the blueline, McCauley took several strides into the left face-off circle before firing a blast past Monarchs goaltender Jeff Zatkoff
for his second goal of the game. Defenseman T.J. Brennan also recorded an assist on McCauley’s seventh goal of the season.
Left wing Bud Holloway
scored his 12th goal of the season 1:04 into the first period. Collecting the puck at the top of the right face-off circle following a face-off win by center Justin Azevedo
, Holloway fired a blast on net, beating Portland goaltender Jhonas Enroth for the Monarchs first goal of the game.
Right wing Maxime Legault scored his seventh goal of the season at 2:51 of the first period. In the Portland defensive zone, defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani fed the puck up ice to Legault, who entered the Monarchs zone on a 2-on-1 breakout alongside left wing Derek Whitmore. Falling down shortly after crossing the blueline, Legault passed the puck to his right while lying on the ice surface. Collecting the puck and skating forward on the rush, Whitmore carried the puck toward the goal. Regaining his position and skating toward the net, Legault collected a feed from Whitmore, tapping it home for the game-tying goal.
Azevedo scored his 11th goal of the season at 5:17 of the first period. Positioned at the top of the slot, Holloway passed the puck over to Azevedo in the left wing face-off circle. Azevedo fired a shot that was stopped by Enroth. The rebound spilled out to Holloway, who skated down the slot from the blueline. Holloway quickly passed the puck over to Azevedo at the bottom of the left face-off circle, where he blasted the rubber biscuit home to give the Monarchs a 2-1 advantage early in the first period.
McCauley scored his sixth goal of the season, his first goal of the game, at 6:43 of the first period. Center Justin Bowers passed McCauley the puck up ice from the Pirates defensive zone. McCauley gained speed through the neutral zone, splitting two Monarchs players as he crossed the blueline. Skating around a third Monarchs player at the top of the slot, McCauley skated in alone, beating Zatkoff stick-side for the second game-tying goal scored by Portland in the first period.
Legault scored his second goal of the game at 18:14 of the first period. Center Brian Roloff engaged Monarchs defenseman David Kolomatis
in a puck battle behind the Monarchs net. Skating away toward the left wing corner with the puck, Roloff sent a pass back to the left point where Gragnani was positioned. Gragnani passed the puck diagonally across the ice to Legault, standing in the middle of the right face-off circle. A one-timer by Legault snuck past Zatkoff, placing Portland ahead late in the first period.
Left wing Dwight King
scored his ninth goal of the season at 17:55 of the second period. Aggressive on the forecheck, King skated behind the Portland goal and stole the puck away from a Pirates defender. Skating quickly around the net, King wrapped the puck around Enroth to tie the score at three with his unassisted tally.
Zatkoff (10-11-1) dropped his 11th decision of the season, turning aside 39-of-43 shots on goal. Enroth (12-10-1) collected his 12th victory of the season, halting 32-of-35 shots on net.
Manchester went 0-for-5 on the power play. Portland was 0-for-3 with the man advantage. Notables:
Left wing Bud Holloway
now has five goals and four assists for nine points (5-4=9) in eight games against Portland on the season…Holloway’s goal 1:04 into the game marks the fastest opening goal for the Monarchs this season…Holloway is now tied with left wing David Meckler
for the team lead in goals scored with 12…left wing Dwight King
has six points over his last six games (2-4=6)…The Monarchs have held their opponents scoreless on the power play in each of their last five games (0-for-15) and have only allowed two power play goals in their last nine games (2-for-30)…The Monarchs lost for only the first time in regulation this season when scoring the first goal of the game (15-1-0-1).