Moulson's Trick Gives Lowell A Devil Of A Time Moulson nets hat trick; Azevedo has four point game; Gauthier has three pointer MANCHESTER, NH – Left wing Matt Moulson netted his second career hat trick to lead the Manchester Monarchs to a 7-2 win over the Lowell Devils in front of 6,850 fans at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Saturday night.
Manchester (26-25-0-5, 57 points) is in sixth place in the Atlantic Division. Lowell (26-23-1-5, 58 points) is tied with Worcester for fourth place in the Atlantic Division.
"Our execution on the special teams sparked our offensive surge tonight," said Head Coach Mark Morris. "Timely scoring in the second period erased our topsy-turvy defensive effort and Jonathan Bernier stood tall in net."
Two Devils players sat in the penalty box and the Monarchs went to work scoring two power play goals. With the two-man advantage, right wing Teddy Purcell sent the puck down to center Justin Azevedo along the goal line to the left of the net. Weighing his options, Azevedo decided to thread the puck like the eye of a needle through defenseman Mark Fraser and goaltender Dave Caruso to Moulson who was standing next to the right post and barely had to move his stick to redirect the pass into the open net for his 12th goal of the season at 18:36 of the first period.
Manchester jumped out to the early lead with center Gabe Gauthier's sixth goal of the season at 1:13 of the first period. Azevedo carried the puck into the Devils zone and dropped it off along the right wing half wall for center Oscar Moller. The rookie, who is down from Los Angeles on a conditioning stint, ripped a shot toward the net that Gauthier connected with for the tip in that beat Caruso. Gauthier's goal ended a 16-game goal scoring drought.
Lowell evened the contest at 1-1 at the 7:15 of the opening frame. At the left point, right wing Nicklas Bergfors passed the puck to right wing Barry Tallackson along the left wing. Tallackson in turn fed the puck back to Bergfors between the hash marks. The winger weaved through Monarchs players and snapped a wrist shot from the bottom of the right face-off circle that beat goaltender Jonathan Bernier. Defenseman Olivier Magnan picked up an assist on Bergfors' 13th goal of the season.
Right wing David Meckler put the Monarchs back on top with his 12th tally of the season. Center Marc-Andre Cliche put the brakes on just inside the blueline at the left point. Opting to shoot the puck, Cliche's shot hit Caruso square in the pads. The rebound bounced to the hash marks where Meckler was skating for the quick shot that found the back of the net at 14:23 of the first stanza. Defenseman Davis Drewiske assisted on the goal that gave the Monarchs a 2-1 advantage.
Right wing Stephen Gionta remained in the penalty box for high-sticking when center Brian Boyle put his fifth goal of the season past Caruso. Moller controlled the puck at the bottom of the left face-off circle and tried to send a pass through the slot to Boyle. Devils' center Rod Pelley tipped the puck at the top of the crease. The bouncing puck flipped over to Boyle at the bottom of the right face-off circle. The 6-foot-7, 250-pound center took two swipes at the puck before he connected and jammed it five-hole for a 4-1 Monarchs lead at 19:48 of the opening frame. Boyle's goal was his first since he returned from a call-up with Los Angeles on January 17. Azevedo picked up an assist on the Monarchs fourth goal of the game.
Lowell picked up their own power play goal at 2:02 of the second period. Drewiske was in the penalty box for cross-checking when right wing Patrick Davis slid the puck from the bottom of the left face-off circle into the crease. Right wing Vladimir Zharkov was sliding to a stop in the blue paint when the puck bounced off his right skate and over the goal line. The Monarchs protested that Zharkov kicked the puck in but the goal stood as the winger's 10th of the season from Davis and right wing Matt Halischuk.
Not happy with Lowell's goal counting, Manchester took back their three-goal lead with Moulson's second goal of the night and 13th tally of the season at 5:10 of the middle stanza. Meckler battled along the endboards in the Devils' zone and freed the puck out to the right point. Moulson skated to the open puck and blasted a slap shot that clanked off the post inside the net to confirm the goal that brought the score to 5-2 in the Monarchs favor. Gauthier picked up his second assist on the night.
Moulson one-timed the puck into the net for his third goal of the night and second professional hat trick of his career at 13:49 of the second period. Defenseman Alec Martinez sent the puck deep into the Devils zone for center Marty Murray. The veteran passed the puck to Moulson in the left face-off circle for the one-timer. Moulson's hat trick is the first time a Monarchs player has scored three goals in one game this season and the team's 17th all-time hat trick in franchise history. Moulson scored his first career hat trick against Albany in a 5-1 win on March 30, 2007.
Azevedo picked up his fourth point of the night with his ninth goal of the season at 14:11 of the middle stanza. Gauthier collided with two Devils players in the left corner of Lowell's zone and the puck popped free to Moller at the bottom of the left face-off circle. Moller had nobody around him as he shuffled the puck from his forehand to backhand and back again while staring down Caruso. Just when it appeared Moller was going to shoot the puck, he passed it to his right for Azevedo, who was streaking in, to one-time it into the top right corner of the net to bring the score to 7-2 after two periods.
"We executed with more purpose in the third period," said Morris. "We're hopeful the confidence we gained in today's game carries over to tomorrow's game against Hartford."
Bernier (13-16-3) earned his 13th win of the season with 31 saves on 33 shots. Caruso (1-11-0) took his 11th loss of the season with 25 saves.
Manchester went 2-for-3 on the power play. Lowell was 1-for-5 with the man advantage.