MANCHESTER, NH – Center Nate Thompson's buzzer beating goal in overtime was the game winner as the Providence Bruins edged out a 4-3 win over the Manchester Monarchs in front of 6,924 fans at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Friday night.
Manchester (28-28-5-4) is in fifth place in the Atlantic Division with 65 points. Providence (45-15-3-2) is in first place in the Atlantic Division with 95 points and clinched a playoff berth in the 2008 Calder Cup playoffs.
The clock froze with 50.3 seconds left in overtime when Thompson ripped a slap shot over netminder Jonathan Quick's glove and into the web to seal the deal on a 4-3 victory for the Bruins. Defenseman Sean Curry dumped the puck behind the Monarchs net where right wing Jeff Hoggan was located. Hoggan beamed a pass to Thompson whose 14th goal of the season ended overtime to clinch a playoff spot for the Bruins.
The No. 1 power play team in the AHL led by left wing Matt Moulson took the lead at 11:57 of the first period. Quick picked up his first point as the Monarchs goaltender as he cleared the puck out of the zone to right wing Teddy Purcell. The rookie forward fought away defenders on the right wing boards enabling a pass to Moulson in the right slot. Moulson exploded a shot past netminder Tuukka Rask for a 1-0 lead.
The Monarchs doubled their lead only seven seconds into their second power play attempt. Defenseman Troy Milam and Purcell shuffled the puck back-and-forth at the blueline shifting around the defense. At 14:14 of the first period, Purcell took a shot on net through traffic before the puck parked itself behind the red line for a 2-0 lead to end the first period. Center Gabe Gauthier recorded the secondary assist on the goal.
The Bruins, on the penalty kill, recorded their first goal of the night and first of three in the second period at the 5:26 mark. Center Matt Hendricks picked the pocket of the Monarchs in the neutral zone and skated in on Quick. As Hendricks approached the crease, he deked right-to-left shifting Quick out of position and cut the lead to one on the shorthanded goal.
Retaliating just under a minute later at 6:17, defenseman P.J. Atherton recorded his first point as a Monarchs defenseman as he assisted right wing John Zeiler's fourth goal of the year. Defenseman Drew Bagnall passed the disk to Atherton at the right point where he sent a slap shot toward Rask. Zeiler, stationed at the right corner of the crease, knocked the saucer out of the air and down to the ice, slipping it past Rask and regaining the two goal lead.
To end the second period, the Bruins scored two goals in five minutes starting at 15:27 of the middle frame. Left wing Pascal Pelletier recovered the disk in the neutral zone and fed it ahead to left wing Chris Collins. Skating over the blueline, Collins in mid-stride sent a blistering shot past Quick's stick that chimed off the post and into the mesh.
A mere 40 seconds later, Providence found themselves on the power play while Milam sat in the box for high sticking. Hendricks controlled the puck in the right corner while Hoggan placed himself at the left door step of Quick. Hendricks and Hoggan went tape-to-tape on a one timer at 16:07 lighting the lamp and tying the score at 3-3 to end the second period. Left wing Aaron Slattengren was awarded the secondary assist on the goal.
Quick took the loss, stopping 27-of-31 shots faced. Rask earned the win, denying 33-of-36 shots.
Manchester went 2-for-7 on the power play. Providence was 1-for-5 on the man advantage.