ALBANY, NY – Center Justin Azevedo
scored twice and right wing Teddy Purcell scored his fourth game-winning goal in the team's last five wins as the Manchester Monarchs edged the Albany River Rats, 4-3, for their fourth consecutive win in front of 2,580 fans at the Times Union Center on Monday night.
Manchester (25-24-0-5, 55 points) is in sixth place in the Atlantic Division, one point behind the fourth place Lowell Devils (25-21-1-5, 56 points) and the Worcester Sharks (27-24-0-2, 56 points). Albany (24-25-3-2, 53 points) is in sixth place in the East Division.
"We played two strong periods," said Head Coach Mark Morris. "We thought the first and second periods were how we've been playing hockey lately. Justin Azevedo had a big game and his line contributed two of our goals and Marty Murray's line was big on the other two goals."
The Monarchs line that got the scoring started added to Manchester's lead with Purcell's team leading 16th tally of the season. Left wing Matt Moulson passed the puck to center Marty Murray along the end-boards. The veteran carried it behind the cage and around to the right face-off circle. Murray then sent the puck through traffic to Purcell in the left face-off circle for a one-timer and the team's fourth tally of the game.
Moulson began the game's scoring with his 11th tally of the season at 8:17 of the opening period. Moulson was able to get behind the River Rats defense and Purcell flipped the puck over to his teammate who was in the slot. Moulson chipped the puck over goaltender Justin Peters' right pad for the goal and the early lead for the Monarchs. Murray earned his team leading 27th assist.
At 14:42 of the beginning stanza, Azevedo doubled Manchester's lead with his seventh goal of the season. As the Monarchs made an offensive push, Azevedo carried the puck over the River Rats blueline and passed it over to center Gabe Gauthier skating down the right wing. Gauthier ripped a shot from inside the right face-off circle that Peters saved. The rebound bounced to his right side for Azevedo to one-time it into the open net. Left wing Scott Parse assisted on the second goal of the night.
Albany cut the Monarchs lead in half at 1:54 of the second period. Right wing Jakub Petruzalek sent the puck to defenseman Jonathan Paiement at the center point. Paiement ripped a slap shot from the point that goaltender Daniel Taylor saved. The rebound came out to the right face-off circle for right wing Pat Dwyer to blast into the back of the net for his 13th goal of the season.
Azevedo picked up his second tally of the night with precision passing with his linemates. Azevedo sent the puck to Gauthier along the right wing who forwarded it on to Parse at the bottom of the right face-off circle who then found Azevedo between the hash marks for the one-timer that beat Peters for a 3-1 lead and his eighth goal of the season.
The River Rats began their comeback at 11:45 of the final frame with right wing Harrison Reed's third goal of the season. Center Dwight Helminen found Reed positioned at the low center point, just above the hash marks for a quick one-timer that beat Taylor. Right wing Jerome Samson assisted on the goal that brought the score to 4-2.
Samson then tallied his 14th goal of the season to bring the River Rats to within one goal. Albany crashed the net with Helminen and left wing Joe Jensen put shots on net but Taylor was there for the saves. The puck bounced back to Samson in the middle of the zone for a one-timer into the net.
"Late in the game, we lost some moment, but we hung on for the win," said Morris. "On the bright side, we're please with the results and we're making strides in the right the direction."
Taylor (6-1-0) earned his sixth win of the season and fifth in a row with 37 saves. Peters (13-19-2) took his 19th loss of the season stopping 18-of-22 shots.
Manchester went 0-for-2 on the power play. Albany was 0-for-4 with the man advantage.