GRAND RAPIDS, MI – It took seven rounds in the shootout for the Manchester Monarchs to extinguish the Grand Rapids Griffins 3-2 in a shootout in front of 3,129 fans at the Van Andel Arena on Wednesday night for their fifth consecutive road win.
Manchester (8-6-0-3) won all five games of their road trip to move into a tie for fifth place in the Atlantic Division with 19 points. Grand Rapids (9-5-2-3) is ranked fourth in the North Division with 23 points.
Monarchs' left wing Scott Parse, center Michel Leveille and center Justin Azevedo score in the seven-round shootout and goaltender Jonathan Bernier stopped 5-of-7 shooters for the win. Right wing Darren McCarty and defenseman Jonathan Ericsson scored in the shootout for the Griffins. Grand Rapids' netminder Jimmy Howard stopped four shooters in the shootout.
"The game was hard fought affair; both teams competed exceptionally hard," said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. "I thought we had a lot of jump in our step for having played so many games in a short period of time. Our goaltending has been solid, we've shored up our defense and offensively we have been producing at a more regular rate."
At 4:18 of the opening frame, former University of New Hampshire right wing Darren Haydar put the Griffins on the scoreboard. Center Corey Emmerton handed over the puck to left wing Ville Leino in the Monarchs zone. Leino fanned on his initial shot from the inside edge of the right face-off circle but he connected on his second shot. Bernier made the save as the puck hit the Monarchs' crest on his chest. Leino picked up the rebound and attempted to bank it off Bernier as he crossed the end redline. The puck slid through the crease for Haydar's quick tap-in at the left post for his ninth tally of the season.
At 6:39 in the second period Purcell streaked down the right boards and into the Griffins zone. The right winger found Parse along the left wing boards who snapped a shot toward the net. Azevedo redirected the puck over Howard for his third goal of the season.
After a barrage of shots on their 5-on-3 man-advantage, the Monarchs let the puck squirt out in front of the penalty box as center Aaron Gagnon was coming out of the box after serving two minutes for hooking. Breaking free all alone on Bernier, Gagnon carried the puck straight to the net. Bernier attempted the poke-check but Gagnon slid the puck to his right and snuck it in between the netminder's skate and the right post for his first goal of the season at 13:09 of the middle frame. Center Justin Abdelkader assisted on the Griffins second tally of the game.
Azevedo picked up his fourth goal of the season at the 18-minute mark of the second period to send the teams into the locker rooms tied at 2-2. Leveille collected the puck in the neutral zone and passed it over to Purcell. The right wing carried the puck into the Griffins zone and unleashed a shot from the top of the left face-off circle. Azevedo redirected Purcell's shot over Howard's glove for his second tally of the night.
Bernier (5-1-2) won his third shootout of the season with 31 saves. Howard (4-5-2) took his second shootout loss of the season stopping 26-of-28 shots.
Manchester went 0-for-4 on the power play. Grand Rapids was also 0-for-1 with the man advantage.
"If you would have told me that we would have swept the road trip, I would have told you that you were crazy," said Morris on the five-game road sweep. "It's been a good growing experience for our team and we've learned a lot about each other."