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Monarchs Lose; Clinch Playoff Spot

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
NORFOLK, VA – Left wing Chris Durno combined with defenseman Troy Milam to score goals 38 seconds apart as the Manchester Monarchs fell to the Norfolk Admirals by a 2-1 margin Saturday night at the Norfolk Scope.

With the loss, Manchester (42-24-3-6, 93 points) remains in second place in the Atlantic Division, only a single point behind the division-leading Portland Pirates (43-20-6-2, 94 points).  Norfolk (37-20-8-6, 88 points) is ranked fourth in the East Division with 88 points.

Despite losing in regulation to the Admirals, Manchester clinches a berth in the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs, as the Monarchs needed at least one point against the Admirals or a Worcester Sharks defeat at the hands of the Springfield Falcons.  The Falcons recorded a 7-2 victory over the Sharks at the DCU Center Saturday evening, guaranteeing Manchester a spot in the playoffs for the ninth time in their 10 year history.

“The guys competed awfully hard, but a sharp angle goal by (defenseman) Troy Milam let them back in,” explained Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris following Saturday night’s defeat.

“On a scrambling play around the net, 'Zats' had the puck pinned up against the post with no whistle, but it went into the net.  [Norfolk] continued to push and shove – it was ruled a legal goal and I don’t know how that can be, but it turned out to be two points for Norfolk,” said Morris in reference to the game-winning goal by Durno.  “In the big picture, I thought we battled hard this weekend despite wrinkles in our lineup.  Guys stepped up into new roles and competed very hard.”

“It’s a nice feeling of accomplishment for this young group,” said Morris, discussing his team’s berth into the playoffs.  “We’ve been up near the top for most of the year, and we’ve battled through a lot.  Hopefully we’ll get a few more guys healthy and have a competitive playoff run.”

Durno scored his 18th goal of the season at 13:37 of the third period, lifting Norfolk to a 2-1 lead, which they would hold for the remainder of the game.  Following a face-off after Milam’s goal, the Admirals took possession and gained entry into the offensive zone.  After a quick puck cycle in the zone, left wing Mike Angelidis put the puck on net and immediately charged Monarchs goaltender Jeff Zatkoff’s position.  With heavy crease traffic swiping at the puck, left wing Pierre-Cedric Labrie touched the puck, reaching over the Monarchs goal from the trapezoid.  Durno, who was near the left post in the middle of the scrum, was the last person to touch the puck as it crossed the goal line after being wedged up against the post by Zatkoff.

Right wing Bud Holloway scored his 26th goal of the season at 15:42 of the first period on the power play.  From the right wing half boards, left wing Dwight King sent a pass back to the point where it was gathered by center Justin Azevedo.  A long pass from the blueline caught the stick of Holloway, positioned at the goal line near the left post.  The ensuing wrist shot beat Norfolk goaltender Dustin Tokarski top shelf, marking the first goal of the game for either side.

Milam scored his 13th goal of the season at 12:59 of the third period, knotting the game at one.  From within the left face-off circle, left wing Johan Harju attempted to pass the puck behind the Monarchs goal.  In transit, the puck clipped the stick of a Monarchs defender, sending the puck across the slot to Milam, positioned along the right side boards.  Milam, a former member of the Monarchs, wound up and fired a shot past Zatkoff for the game-tying goal near the midpoint of the third period.
Zatkoff (19-15-5) drew his 15th loss of the season, halting 34-of-36 shots on net.  Tokarski (21-16-4) collected his 21st win of the year, stopping 28-of-29 shots on goal.

Manchester went 1-for-6 on the power play.  Norfolk was 0-for-3 with the man advantage.
Notables:  Manchester clinched a postseason berth for the ninth time in their 10 year history…To clinch a playoff berth, Manchester needed at least one point against Norfolk OR a Worcester Sharks loss to the Springfield Falcons…The Sharks lost to the Falcons by a 7-2 score, clinching a postseason berth for Manchester…Prior to defenseman Troy Milam’s goal, Monarchs netminder Jeff Zatkoff had not allowed a goal in his past 113:13 minutes of play over a three game stretch…Right wing Bud Holloway has recorded four points (2-2=4) over his last four games…Manchester has only allowed two power play goals over their last eight games, killing off 30-of-32 penalties over that span…Right wing Chaz Johnson skated in his first AHL game since March 11, 2009 when he suited up for the Binghamton Senators against the Sharks.
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