MANCHESTER, NH – Goaltender Jason LaBarbera stopped 27-of-28 shots while centers Patrick O'Sullivan and Matt Ryan tallied in the Manchester Monarchs 2-1 victory to sink the Portland Pirates in front of 7,835 fans at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Friday night.
Manchester (22-11-6-1) is in first place in the Atlantic Division with 51 points. Portland (19-13-1-4) is tied for second place in the Atlantic Division with 43 points.
The Monarchs jumped on the scoreboard at 5:22 of the second period. Defenseman Mike Weaver passed the puck from behind his own net to O'Sullivan skating in the Monarchs zone. O'Sullivan took the puck down the center of the ice looking to pass it off, but as he reached the Pirates blueline, the Portland defense backed off allowing the two-time All-Star to unleash a blistering slap shot from the top of the left circle beating Portland goaltender Mike Wall under his right arm.
The Monarchs extended their lead to 2-0 at 11:47 of the final stanza. Right wing Mike Hoffman collected the puck at the redline along the left wing and skated down into enemy territory. With a man draped on his back behind the net, Hoffman managed to flick a pass out in front to Ryan who punched it into the top left corner for his second goal of the season. Hoffman earned his tenth point of the season with the assist.
With the net empty and the extra attacker on the ice, the Pirates were able to get on the board and pull within one goal at 18:41 of the third frame. Defenseman Aaron Rome was along the right wing boards in the Monarchs zone stick-handling the puck when he sent a pass to the high slot. Right wing Colby Genoway received the tape-to-tape pass and uncorked a slap shot that found its way through traffic and LaBarbera's legs. Portland defenseman Tim Brent also collected an assist on the goal.
LaBarbera collected the win with 27 saves on 28 shots. Wall took the loss stopping 30 shots.
Manchester went 0-for-5 on the power play. Portland was 0-for-7 with the man advantage.