Manchester (21-11-1-1) collected their 21st victory of the season, maintaining their stronghold on first place in the Atlantic Division with 44 points. Connecticut (14-12-2-5) draws their fifth shootout loss of the season for 35 points to place them fourth in the Atlantic Division.
“I am really happy with the outcome,” stated Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris following Tuesday evening’s shootout win. “We suffered four crazy bounces at the start, I felt bad for [Jeff Zatkoff
]. It was a great win – a great Christmas present.”
Skating in on net during the third round of the shootout, center Justin Azevedo
faked the shot near the left post and deked right at the last second, wrapping the puck around Connecticut goaltender Cameron Talbot’s left leg for the game-winning shootout goal. Center Corey Elkins
and Moller also scored for the Monarchs in the shootout.
Right wing Dale Weise scored his seventh goal of the season at 3:24 of the first period to put the Whale on the board first. Defenseman Wade Redden sent a hard pass up ice in the neutral zone that connected with Weise as he crossed the blueline. Skating toward the bottom of the left face-off circle, Weise sniped the top right corner of the net, beating Monarchs goaltender Jeff Zatkoff
top shelf for the score.
Center Chad Kolarik scored his 12th goal of the season at 3:48 of the second period. Center Tim Kennedy initiated the play, feeding the puck to the left point where defenseman Ryan McDonagh fired a powerful blast on net. Zatkoff knocked down the initial shot attempt and the puck fell right onto the stick of Kolarik after bouncing around in the crease. Kolarik easily forced the puck just inside of the right post, giving the Whale a two-goal lead 24 seconds after Weise’s goal.
Left wing Devin DiDiomete scored his third goal of the season at 15:43 of the first period. Defenseman Tomas Kundratek, from the right point, fired a puck on Zatkoff that was knocked down. Center Ryan Garlock took a swipe at the puck, knocking Zatkoff off of his skates. Crashing the net, DiDiomete forced his stick into the goal crease, pushing the puck past the goal line for Connecticut’s third tally of the game.
Monarchs goaltender Martin Jones
replaced Zatkoff between the pipes at the start of the second period.
Right wing Jeremy Williams scored his team-leading 17th goal of the season at 15:10 of the second period. Entering the zone, Kundratek skated along the right wing boards with the puck. The defenseman passed the puck into the right wing corner where center Kris Newbury was standing. Newbury quickly passed the puck from behind the goal line to the top of the slot where Williams was standing unopposed. A powerful blast beat Jones to give the Whale a 4-0 lead.
Moller scored his first goal for the Monarchs since being reassigned from Los Angeles to Manchester on Monday at 13:27 of the second period. Defenseman Viatcheslav Voynov corralled the puck at the left point. A quick feed to his right caught the stick of Moller, who fired a slap shot on goal that beat Talbot top shelf for the Monarchs first goal of the game, scored on the power play. Center Andrei Loktionov
also recorded an assist on the play.
Moller recorded his second goal of the game at 15:10 of the second period. Elkins skated along the left wing boards and down into the corner. Elkins dropped the puck back to Moller, who was creeping down the left side. A wrist shot by Moller found a hole beating Talbot, who had been hugging the right post. The goal was also assisted by defenseman Thomas Hickey
, whose initial pass to Elkins spurred the Monarchs second goal of the game.
Hickey scored his fifth goal of the season to bring the Monarchs to within one goal at 3:42 of the third period. After a barrage of shots on the Connecticut cage, left wing Richard Clune
and right wing Justin Johnson crashed the net as the puck fell to the goal crease after a save. Intense poke-checks by the two wingers not only upended Talbot, but also forced the puck out to the left face-off circle where Hickey fired a blast over Talbot to bring the score to a 4-3 margin. Johnson and Clune recorded the assists on Hickey’s goal.
Center Marc-Andre Cliche
scored the game-tying goal at 5:31 of the third period. Moller skated the puck along the left wing boards and passed the puck forward to Loktionov in the left wing corner. From below the goal line, Loktionov sent a feed to the right post where Cliche skated in to chip the puck into the net and knot the score at four goals apiece.
Jones (10-2-0) recorded his 10th victory of the season, making 12 saves on 13 shots on goal. Zatkoff allowed three goals on nine shots in the first 20 minutes of play. Talbot (5-2-2) drew his second shootout loss of the season, halting 28-of-32 shots on goal.
Manchester and Connecticut both went 1-for-4 on the power play.Notables:
The Monarchs won their first shootout of the season, with three Monarchs scoring goals in the shootout period…Manchester’s last shootout win was on home ice against Worcester in a 5-4 victory on December 5, 2009…Manchester is now 4-0-0-0 against Connecticut on home ice and 5-1-0-0 overall on the season…With an assist in tonight’s game, defenseman Viatcheslav Voynov now has seven points (1-6=7) over his last seven games…Center Andrei Loktionov
(1-4=5) has recorded a goal and four assists over his last four games…Goaltender Martin Jones
has allowed only one goal in each of his last three games, halting 77-of-80 shots during that span.