Rangers prospects suffered a setback Tuesday night, as the Hartford Wolf Pack fell at home to Manchester 8-6 in a first-round AHL playoff series despite some outstanding individual performances.
Hartford had led 4-0 in the first period, but the Monarchs rallied for a stunning 8-6 victory to take a 3-2 lead in the series with Game 6 scheduled for Thursday night in Manchester, N.H.
Former Ranger Alexandre Daigle and Noah Clarke starred for the Monarchs with two goals and two assists apiece. Manchester did not go ahead of the Wolf Pack for the first time until Matt Ryan scored to make it 7-6 with 6:14 remaining. Jeff Giuliano added an insurance goal for the Monarchs with 3:24 to go.
The dramatic Manchester comeback overshadowed some outstanding performances by Hartford players, including rookie Brandon Dubinsky
, who had two goals for the Wolf Pack. For Dubinsky, it marked his second straight two-goal game.
Hartford scored on each of their its two shots - by Martin Sonnenberg and Dubinsky. That prompted Manchester to pull starting goaltender Barry Brust just 46 seconds into the game. Adam Hauser relieved Brust and finished with 32 saves.
Hartford grabbed its 4-0 lead later in the first on a pair of goals by Craig Weller, but things began to take a turn for th worse when Wolf Pack All-Star goaltender Al Montoya hurt himself going after a loose puck with 1.2 seconds left in the first period. Robert Gherson came on as Montoya's replacement, and the Monarchs responded with four goals in the second period to tie the game.
The Pack rallied in the final 8:35 of the second on goals by Dubinsky and Alexandre Giroux to go ahead 6-4 after 40 minutes, but Manchester scored four times in the third to ice it.
Gherson allowed seven goals on 23 shots in relief for Hartford.
The Wolf Pack have scored 18 goals in the last three games, but are 1-2 in that stretch.