LOWELL, MA – Four power play goals elevated the Manchester Monarchs to their seventh win in eight games with a 7-3 victory over the Lowell Devils in front of 2,864 fans at the Tsongas Arena on Friday night. The Monarchs move seven points ahead of the Springfield Falcons (33-32-5-5, 76 points) as they fight for the final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.
Manchester (37-30-5-4) is in the fourth and final playoff position in the Atlantic Division with 83 points. Lowell (24-39-7-4) is in seventh place in the Atlantic Division with 59 points.
Center Brady Murray tallied his sixth goal in as many games with a shorthanded tally at 14:24 of the middle frame. With right wing Kevin Westgarth in the penalty box for hooking, Murray picked up the puck and carried it into the Devils zone with center Marc-Andre Cliche skating with him. Cliche and the Lowell defenseman crossed in front of Murray just before he broke to the slot and fired a wrist shot over goaltender Dave Caruso's glove for a shorthanded goal, his 12th tally of the season.
The Monarchs started the scoring with defenseman Troy Milam's 13th goal of the season at 14:58 of the first period as Manchester skated on the power play. Defenseman Jeff Likens extended his assist streak to six games and his point streak to seven games by passing the puck to Milam at the center point for the blast that singed the netting between the pipes to give the Monarchs a 1-0 advantage. The newly crowned AHL Rookie of the Year, right wing Teddy Purcell, recorded his 56th assist of the season.
Devils center Ivan Khomutov tied the game at 1-1 with his 11th goal of the season at 16:22 of the opening stanza. Right wing Nicklas Bergfors shot the puck on goaltender Jonathan Quick. The rebound popped free in the slot and Khomutov pounced on the free puck for the goal. Center Tyler Burton assisted on Lowell's first goal of the night.
Center Brian Boyle capitalized on his 30th goal of the season on the Monarchs second power play of the night. Purcell collected the puck along the left wing of the Devils zone from left wing Matt Moulson. Purcell skillfully found Boyle in the bottom of the right face-off circle for a one-timer that beat Caruso for a 2-1 lead at 5:22 of the second period.
Burton found the net for his first goal of the season at 11:14 of the middle frame to tie the game at 2-2. With Monarchs center Trevor Lewis in the penalty box for holding, Burton ripped a shot from the right face-off circle that beat Quick. Right wings Grant Marshall and Barry Tallackson assisted on Burton's goal.
Boyle continued his rookie scoring prowess as he collected his second tally of the night at 12:08 of the middle frame to lift the Monarchs to a 3-2 lead. Defenseman Joe Piskula's shot the puck that bounced off of Caruso and to the right face-off circle for Boyle to slam home for the goal. Right wing Lauri Tukonen also earned an assist on Boyle's team leading 31st goal of the season.
The Monarchs collected two more power play goals in the third period to complete the 4-for-4 evening with the man advantage. Lewis picked up the puck in the high slot and snapped a wrist shot beating Caruso at 2:24 of the final period. Center David Meckler and Moulson assisted on the team's fifth goal of the night.
Devils center Petr Vrana scored the final goal for the Devils at 10:12 of the final period. On the power play, Vrana and Tallackson crashed the net following defenseman Jean-Luc Grand Pierre's shot. Vrana poked in the loose puck for his 19th goal of the season.
Purcell found the back of the net with the man advantage at 13:18 of the third stanza. Moulson found Purcell at the bottom of the right face-off circle and the rookie unleashed a bullet at point blank range that Caruso could not contain. Boyle recorded his third point of the night by assisting on Purcell's 23th goal of the season.
Tukonen finished off the scoring by poking in his ninth tally of the season at 14:01 of the third period. Right wing John Zeiler and Tukonen crashed the net following Westgarth's shot. Caruso thought he had controlled the puck but Tukonen got his stick on it and jammed it over the goal line to give the Monarchs the 7-3 final.
Quick earned his 10th win of the season stopping 32-of-35 shots on net. Caruso took the loss stopping 28-of-35 shots.
Manchester went 4-for-4 on the power play. Lowell was 2-for-5 with the man advantage.