Monarchs continue their winning ways, rout Phantoms
MANCHESTER - A battle between two AHL All-Star goaltenders wasn't even close as the Manchester Monarchs routed the Adirondack Phantoms 5-1 in front of 3,505 fans at Verizon Wireless Arena Wednesday night to win their third consecutive game.
The Monarchs improved to 24-19-2 and moved into second place in the Atlantic Division. Manchester continues its homestand with games against first-place St. John's Friday (7 p.m.) and third-place Worcester Saturday (7 p.m.) before the all-star break.
Monarchs all-star goalie Jeff Zatkoff had a decided edge over Adirondack's own all-star netminder Michael Leighton, making 28 saves for his 12th win of the season.
'I think we had a complete team game,' Zatkoff said. 'It was close there for a little bit. We took some momentum away from them and we were able to bury a few quick ones. We didn't let up for 60 minutes.'
Already up 1-0 thanks to a Marc-Andre Cliche first period goal, Manchester scored three goals in the second period. The onslaught began at 11:31 when Jordan Nolan exited the penalty box and Andrew Campbell put the puck on his stick for a breakaway. Nolan slid the puck through Leighton's five-hole to make it 2-0.
Just 1:09 later it was 3-0 as Cliche won a faceoff in the Adirondack zone and got the puck to J.D. Watt for a shot. Leighton made the first save but Watt swatted the puck into the open left side as he was being dumped to the ice.
'It was a gift for me. It feels good. Sometimes you work so hard and you make good plays and can't get a goal,' Watt said of his second on the season. 'We really try to have that killer instinct out there. That was a pretty deflating one for them.'
Brandon Kozun scored on the power play at 13:53 to push the lead to 4-0. Tic-tac-toe passing led to a shot from defenseman Nick Deslauriers that Leighton stopped, but the puck trickled through and sat in the crease for an easy knock-in for Kozun.
The goal was the last of the night for Leighton, who has logged 104 NHL games and helped the Philadelphia Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010. Leighton was not pleased with his removal from the game and slammed his stick on the boards before storming to the locker room.
Backup Jason Bacashihua held the fort until the 2:00 mark of the third period when Manchester extended to a 5-0 lead. Kozun struck again for his 12th of the season, driving home a rebound chance off Linden Vey's initial shot.
About the only thing left to decide was whether Zatkoff would get the first shutout of the season for Manchester.
It was not to be, however, as Mike Testwuide scored for Adirondack (21-19-2) at 6:26 of the third, converting a give-and-go play with Ben Holmstrom. Former University of New Hampshire standout Blake Kessel had the second assist on the goal for his 12th point of the season.
But that was all for any Phantom comeback thoughts as Manchester closed out the win.
'I was real happy the way we played in the third, especially late when they were putting on a push to try and get back in the game. It seemed like our guys buckled down,' said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. 'We got a little bit loose and then tightened it up and the guys got their focus back. It was a good win.'