PORTLAND, ME – Goaltender Daniel Taylor stopped 23 shots for his sixth consecutive win between the pipes as the Manchester Monarchs' 4-2 win over the Portland Pirates in front of 3,936 fans at the Cumberland County Civic Center moved them into playoff contention on Friday night.
Manchester (22-19-4-2) moved into fourth place in the Atlantic Division with 50 points. Portland (29-15-2-3) dropped to third place in the Atlantic Division with 63 points.
Right wing Vladimir Dravecky scored his first goal of the season at 6:17 of the second period to give the Monarchs a 3-2 lead. Defenseman Troy Milam found Dravecky in the slot for a quick wrist shot over Pirates goaltender Mike McKenna. Left wing Paul Crosty earned an assist on the go-ahead goal.
It only took the Monarchs leading goal scorer 21-seconds to score his 21st goal of the season as center Brian Boyle tallied the first goal of the game shortly after the opening face-off. Right wing John Zeiler entered the Pirates zone and backhanded the puck over to Boyle in the right face-off circle. At the bottom of the circle, Boyle snapped a shot through McKenna's legs for the early lead.
Portland's center Jason King ended Taylor's three-plus game shutout streak when he scored his 17 goal of the season on the power play at the four-minute mark of the opening frame. Monarchs center Trevor Lewis sat in the penalty box for holding when the Pirates power play set up in Manchester's zone. Veteran defenseman Eric Weinrich fed the puck to King as he hovered near the top of the right face-off circle. King blasted a slap shot between Taylor's legs to end the shutout streak at 189 minutes and 36 seconds. Center Andrew Ebbett collected an assist on Kings' first goal of the night.
King gave the Pirates their only lead of the game with his second tally of the night at 10:02 of the first period. Skating to the bottom inside corner of the left face-off circle, King fired a wrist shot past Taylor for the 2-1 lead. Defenseman Brendan Mikkelson and left wing Drew Miller assisted on Kings' 18th goal of the season.
Center David Meckler evened the game at 2-2 with his 13th goal of the season at the 38-second mark of the second period. Lewis took the draw at the right face-off dot. The puck was entangled between the legs of Lewis and his opponent when Meckler snuck in and flicked a wrist shot over the shoulder of McKenna to tie the game.
Defenseman Drew Bagnall put the finishing touches on the Pirates by scoring an empty net goal at 19:51 of the final stanza. Center Gabe Gauthier assisted on Bagnall's first goal of the season.
Taylor (8-2-0) stopped 23-of-25 shots in the Monarchs win. McKenna (15-5-1) made 26 saves for the Pirates.
Manchester went 0-for-3 on the power play. Portland was 2-for-4 with the man advantage.