Monarchs fire blanks, fall to Sound Tigers, 4-0
Manchester fell to 21-13-2 (44 points) but remains in first place in the Atlantic Division and will embark on a pivotal road trip, visiting second-place St. John's (19-8-5, 43) for games Friday and Saturday nights.
The Monarchs didn't appear to have much life, falling behind early and failing to mount any momentum. The Sound Tigers scored three power-play goals in seven chances while Manchester went 0-5 with the man advantage.
Bridgeport goalie Kevin Poulin made 24 saves and Michael Haley and Tony Romano scored a goal and assist each for the Sound Tigers (14-17-4), who were winless in their last 10.
Monarchs goalie Martin Jones was sharp in the first period, but got little help from his teammates as Bridgeport outshot Manchester 20-5 to post a 2-0 lead after 20:00 to set the tone.
Sean Backman scored at 5:20 to make it 1-0. Haley's shot from the left side was kicked out by Jones, but the rebound found Backman's stick and he fought off two defenders to pop the rebound home.
Haley got his own at 17:31, scoring on the power play. The Sound Tigers held the zone and Jones held the fort for a while, making several good saves before Haley beat him with a wrist shot from the right circle that went off Jones' arm and in.
The Monarchs showed signs of life to begin the second period, but after failing to cash in on a power play chance, Bridgeport began to take control again and scored the lone goal of the middle frame.
Romano scored on the power play at 18:02 to make it 3-0. Scott Howes came off the right wing boards with the puck and went to the goal line and then sent a crisp pass across to Romano for a backhand shot to beat Jones.
The Sound Tigers put the game away with a power-play goal at 16:26 of the third period. Rhett Rakhshani scored to make it 4-0, snapping home a rebound that came to him off a skate in the slot.
Manchester put the puck in during a scrum in front of the net with 1:04 remaining, but the net was ruled to have come off the pegs before the puck crossed the line. The Monarchs got a power play chance out of the pileup, but could not spoil Poulin's shutout.
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NOTES: For the third straight season, the Monarchs will send a defenseman and goaltender to the AHL all-star game. The league announced Wednesday that defender Thomas Hickey and goalie Jeff Zatkoff have been named to the Eastern Conference squad. The skills competition will be Jan. 29 and the game the 30th in Atlantic City, N.J. ...
It will be the first all-star appearance for both players. Defenseman Slava Voynov, now up with the parent club in Los Angeles, made the all-star game the past two seasons as a Monarch. Goalies Jonathan Bernier (2010) and Jones (2011) made the squad the past two seasons. ...
Monarchs forward Jordan Nolan returned to the lineup against Bridgeport. Nolan missed seven games with an undisclosed injury. ...
Veteran NHL player Ethan Moreau has still not played in Manchester. Moreau was assigned to the Monarchs and cleared waivers three weeks ago, but has yet to suit up. Moreau is in town, but has not practiced according to a representative from the team.