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Monarchs score three unanswered goals twice to force OT; Charlotte wins in shootout

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
CHARLOTTE, NC – Three players scored shootout goals for the Charlotte Checkers, lifting them to a 6-5 victory over the Manchester Monarchs at the Time Warner Cable Arena on Friday night.

Manchester (26-14-1-2) collected their second shootout loss of the season, but still remain in first place in the Atlantic Division with 55 points.  Charlotte (23-14-1-4) earned their 15th victory of the season, placing them second in the East Division with 51 points.

“It was a hard earned point and a gutsy comeback,” explained Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris following the game.  “Mental errors early on put us in a hole.  We got better as the game progressed.  We gave it all we had in the third with lots of strong plays.”

“Charlotte was better in the shootout.  Things didn’t look good but we were able to gain some ground when things weren’t going our way.  We showed some character by digging deep,” said Morris.

In the shootout, left wing Drayson Bowman skated down the slot and beat Monarchs goaltender Jeff Zatkoff five-hole for the Checkers first goal.  Center Jon Matsumoto tucked a puck below the blocker of Zatkoff for the second tally of the shootout, and left wing Chris Terry wristed a nifty backhand shot past the glove of the Monarchs netminder to clinch the shootout and the victory for the Checkers.  The Monarchs were held without a goal in the shootout.

Center Marc-Andre Cliche scored his 10th goal of the season at 4:09 of the first period.  Center Andrei Loktionov sent the puck up ice from the neutral zone to center Oscar Moller, positioned along the right wing boards.   Moller’s initial shot from the bottom of the right face-off circle was turned aside by goaltender Mike Murphy.  Cliche, who skated to the right post, collected the rebound and was able to put the puck past Murphy with a quick flick of the wrist for the first goal of the game.

Center Zac Dalpe scored his 13th goal of the season, a shorthanded marker, at 7:00 of the first period.  After collecting a turnover in the neutral zone, Dalpe skated into the offensive zone on a 2-on-1.  With defenseman Viatcheslav Voynov protecting against the cross-crease pass, Dalpe took the shot himself, beating Zatkoff glove-side for the equalizing tally.

Center Cedric McNicoll scored his first goal of the season at 13:49 of the first period.  Left wing Nicolas Blanchard intercepted the puck from a Monarchs player and skated behind the Manchester cage.  With a no-look pass while facing the boards, Blanchard connected with McNicoll, standing un-opposed at the top of the goal crease.  A quick shot beat Zatkoff stick-side for the go-ahead goal early in the first period.

McNicoll tallied his second goal of the game and second tally of the season at 3:16 of the middle frame to give the Checkers a 3-1 advantage over the Monarchs.  Right wing Matthew Pistilli collected the puck behind the Monarchs cage and attempted to pass it over to Blanchard on the right doorstep of the net but the puck deflected off of him and caromed out to between the hash marks.  McNicoll blasted a one-timer to give Charlotte the two goal lead.

Defenseman Brett Bellemore netted his first goal of the season at 6:47 of the second period.  With the puck bouncing in the Monarchs zone between bodies, Pistilli managed to get a pass into the right face-off circle for Bellemore to one-time a shot over the diving goaltender to advance the Checkers lead to 4-1.

The Monarchs cut the lead in half with defenseman Thomas Hickey's sixth goal of the season at 11:24 of the middle frame.  Left wing Dwight King sprung Hickey on a breakaway down the right wing.  Murphy denied Hickey on his initial shot from the inside corner of the right face-off circle.  The defenseman collected the puck along the right wing end boards and tossed it toward the net.  From the odd angle, the puck deflected off of Murphy and crossed the goal line.
Shortly after the officials waved off a goal by Cliche, the Checkers picked up their fifth tally of the game.  Right wing Jerome Samson sent a feed to center who skated in on Zatkoff to the right of the hash marks.  From point blank range, Matsumoto beat the goaltender on the short side and snapped the puck into the back of the net.  Bellemore earned an assist on the goal at 13:13 of the second period.

With one second remaining on a 5-on-3 power play, Voynov collected his ninth goal of the season at 8:34 of the final stanza.  Cycling the puck in the Checkers zone, Voynov sent the puck to Loktionov in the bottom of the right face-off circle and then received a pass back.  Moller picked up the next pass from Voynov at the left point and then sent a pass back to the defenseman.  Voynov wound up and blasted a low shot that beat Murphy five-hole to bring the Monarchs back to within two goals.
The Monarchs continued their comeback with their second power play goal of the game at 14:31 of the third period.  King fed a pass up to center Justin Azevedo who was skating down the right wing in the Checkers zone.  Azevedo flipped a pass back to defenseman David Kolomatis who ripped a one-timer that soared under Murphy's left arm and into the net for his fifth goal of the season.
At 16:21 of the final frame, Loktionov tied the game at 5-5 with his seventh tally of the season.  Moller carried the puck across the Checkers blueline along the right wing.  Moller cut to the center of the zone and connected with a pass to Cliche who was skating down the left wing.  Cliche sent the puck to the right post for Loktionov to jam into the net and tie the game.

Zatkoff (10-11-2) collected his second shootout loss of the season, stopping 39-of-44 shots on goal in regulation and overtime while allowing three shootout goals.  Murphy (10-7-2) earned his 10th victory while halting 35-of-40 shots on goal during regulation and overtime.  Murphy also stopped all three Monarchs attempts in the shootout.

Manchester went 2-for-8 on the power play.  Charlotte went 0-for-6 with the man advantage.

Notables:  With 85 combined shots on goal, both teams eclipsed the previous season-high of 82 combined shots on goal set on December 5 by the Monarchs and the Providence Bruins in a 2-1 loss on the road…Manchester overcame two different three-goal deficits in tonight’s contest…center Andrei Loktionov’s three points (1-2=3) in tonight’s game mark the fourth time he has recorded three points in one game this season...With two assists in tonight’s game, left wing Dwight King has seven points (3-4=7) in his last four games…Tonight’s five goal effort marked the first time all season the Monarchs have scored five goals on the road.
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