MANCHESTER, NH – Defenseman Brett Skinner tallied a pair of goals, including the game winner, as the Providence Bruins skated to a 5-2 win over the Manchester Monarchs in front of 9,036 fans at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Saturday night.
Manchester (27-28-4-4) is in fifth place in the Atlantic Division with 62 points. Providence (43-15-3-2) is in first place in the Atlantic Division with 91 points.
The Bruins leapt to a 3-0 lead on Skinner's decisive second goal of the night and sixth of the season. The defenseman jumped up in the play to intercept a clearing attempt and skated up the right side toward the net. Using Monarchs defenseman Patrik Hersley as a screen, Skinner slipped the puck through Monarchs goaltender Jonathan Quick's pads. The goal, scored at the 10:16 mark of the middle frame, went unassisted.
The Bruins drew first blood when left wing Chris Collins notched his 16th goal of the season 6:16 into the opening frame. Controlling the puck in the Manchester zone, right wing Jeff Hoggan wound up for a slap shot from the right wing half wall that eluded Quick. Stationed at the mouth of the goal, Collins was there to slip the free puck into the net. Defenseman Matt Hunwick earned the secondary assist on the play
Providence doubled their lead on a give-and-go goal from Skinner at the 1:23 mark of the second period. Driving into the Monarchs zone, center Wacey Rabbit dropped the puck behind him to Skinner. The defenseman skated up the right side and dished a backhand to Rabbit at the top of the crease. The puck bounced off the skate of Monarchs defenseman Jeff Likens, off the far post and into the net. Right wing Martins Karsums was credited with the second assist on Skinner's fifth tally of the season.
Manchester got on the board with center Marc-Andre Cliche's third goal in back-to-back games, scored 13:51 into the second period. Right wing Teddy Purcell carried the puck along the left wing, sliding a pass to center Brady Murray in the slot. The puck bounced off Murray's stick to Cliche at the top of the crease, where he buried the puck behind Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask. The goal was Cliche's seventh of the year.
Providence would respond with 36.7 seconds left in the middle frame on Hoggan's 25th goal of the season. Hoggan carried the puck into the offensive zone along the left wing, fighting through Monarchs defenseman Troy Milam's check. Closing on the net, Hoggan chipped the puck over Quick's right shoulder and into the goal. Center Matt Hendricks was credited with the lone assist on the tally.
Manchester's second goal, scored by center David Meckler, came 2:53 into the third. Center Brian Boyle carried the puck around the net and looped to the bottom of the left face off circle. Boyle's spinning shot rebounded to Meckler's stick, where he stuffed the puck through the pads of Rask and past the right post. Left wing Paul Crosty also earned an assist on Meckler's 17th marker of the year.
The Bruins struck back 5:05 into the final period on left wing Pascal Pelletier's 30th goal of the season. Stationed at the left wing boards, defenseman Sean Curry found defenseman Matt Hunwick at the point. Hunwick's slap shot sailed wide left of goaltender Daniel Taylor, but the carom off the boards bounced to Pelletier in the right circle, where he snapped the puck into the net.
Quick was saddled with the loss, stopping 18-of-22 shots faced. Taylor replaced Quick at the start of the third period and turned aside 8-of-9 shots. Rask earned the win, denying 27-of-29 shots.
Manchester did not have a power play. Providence was 0-for-2 on the man advantage.