|Jeff Zatkoff made 44 saves on Halloween in the Monarchs 4-1 win.
MANCHESTER, NH - Manchester Monarchs goaltender Jeff Zatkoff
made 44 saves in the home team’s 4-1 victory to spook the Worcester Sharks on Halloween night at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
Manchester (9-2-0-0) maintained their dominance at home, winning their sixth straight game, all at home, and remain in sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division with 18 points. Worcester (6-3-0-1) dropped to a third place tie in the Atlantic Division with 13 points.
"October has been a great month for us," said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. "Our goaltending has been stellar and this win has elevated our confidence."
"In the first two periods, Worcester beat us to a lot of pucks and played a physical brand of hockey. Zatkoff gave us the opportunity to play well in the third period and come away with a win," said Morris.
Five seconds short of the 16-minute mark, center Justin Azevedo tallied his first goal of the season on a 2-on-1 break for the Monarchs which turned out to be the eventual game-winner. Azevedo’s blast from the left face-off dot knuckled and deflected off goaltender Alex Stalock’s glove and into the net. Left wing Bud Holloway and center Gabe Gauthier collected helpers on Azevedo’s goal.
The Monarchs first goal of the game, scored shorthanded by center Corey Elkins at 7:41 of the second period, was the result of a Worcester turnover in the neutral zone. Elkins piloted a 2-on-1 break for the Monarchs and fired a laser beam from the top of the left face-off circle into the right side of the net. The rookie’s fourth goal of the season was assisted by defenseman Thomas Hickey and right wing John Zeiler.
Less than a minute later, forward Dean Strong crashed the net and picked up his second goal of the season and second tally in as many games. While falling to the ice, Strong forced home a rebound from forward Corey Quirk’s initial shot that was turned away by Zatkoff. Center Dwight Helminen also assisted on the goal to bring the score to 1-1 at 8:36 of the middle frame.
Monarchs defenseman Viatcheslav Voynov ripped a blistering one-timer from the right point to give Manchester a 3-1 lead at 15:47 of the final stanza. Voynov collected a pass from the right face-off dot in Worcester’s zone and found the back of the net behind Stalock, who had collapsed into the butterfly position on the ice. The play was set up by defenseman Andrew Campbell and center Andrei Loktionov who fended off Sharks defensemen before getting the puck to Voynov for the tally.
Right wing Brandon Segal capped off the Monarchs scoring on the evening with his third goal of the season into an empty net.
Zatkoff (3-1-0) collected his third win of the season stopping a Monarchs season-high 44 shots from the opposition. Stalock (5-1-1) stopped 27-of-30 shots from the Monarchs for his first regulation loss of the season.
Manchester and Worcester were both 0-for-3 on the power play.
Notables: Manchester was outshot by their opponent for the 10th time this season…The only game the Monarchs out shot their opponent was in Springfield on October 18…Manchester has allowed the lowest number of goals against in the AHL with only 14 tallies by their opponents…With his empty net goal, right wing Brandon Segal is on a five-game point streak (1-6=7)…Monarchs goaltender Jeff Zatkoff, with his 44-save performance Saturday night, now features the AHL’s best goals-against-average with a 0.75…The goaltending tandem of Zatkoff and Jonathan Bernier is one and two on the AHL leader board with save percentages of .978 and .963, respectively…With an assist tonight, center Andrei Loktionov (5-6=11) remains tied with right wing Sergei Shirokov (5-6=11) of Manitoba for the league lead in points among rookies with 11 points each.