Monarchs win in overtime
Monarchs goalie Jeff Zatkoff deflects a shot from Andre Petersson Friday night. (BRUCE TAYLOR / UNION LEADER)
MANCHESTER — Burned by Binghamton in four overtime playoff losses last season, including Game 6 and 7 stunners at home, the Manchester Monarchs exacted a small bit of revenge.
They delivered the dagger in sudden-death action Friday night.
Marc-Andre Cliche connected for the game-winner, redirecting Linden Vey’s shot from the right-wing circle to clinch a 3-2 win for the Monarchs. The puck caromed off Cliche’s left skate and inside the left post to send 5,117 fans into celebration mode at Verizon Wireless Arena.
“Even if we wanted to forget about (last season), it’s fresh in our minds, still. It feels like it was last week,” said Cliche, whose game-winner came on the power play with 83 seconds left in OT. “Getting back at those guys was huge.”
All-Star goaltender Jeff Zatkoff (30 saves) faced a relentless attack for nearly 65 minutes. It didn’t help that the Monarchs (26-20-0-2) were whistled for seven penalties.
But, the club’s top 10-ranked penalty-kill unit prevented the Senators (20-24-2-1) from scoring on six of those occasions.
“We got a lot of practice (killing penalties),” Monarchs head coach Mark Morris said. “It’s not the ideal way to play the game. You want to do a better job of skating. When you’re moving your feet, you don’t take those sticking penalties.”
Thanks largely to Zatkoff, though, the Senators never built a lead. Their best chance to snap a 1-all tie in the third period was denied by Manchester’s stopper.
A blast from between the faceoff circles sailed high. The puck bounced hard off the back boards and right to the stick of Rob Klinkhammer, stationed at the right post. Zatkoff jumped across the crease to cover the puck an instant before the winger fired his shot.
Mike McKenna (26 saves) made his share of big stops, too. Binghamton’s goalie stoned Patrick Mullen on a breakaway from the right wing. The save — with 22 seconds left in regulation — maintained the tie.
Inside the final 6 minutes, the teams traded goals in a 14-second span. Dwight King, cutting through the low slot, redirected a feed from the left-wing circle. King’s 11th goal came with 5:43 to play.
Manchester’s second one-goal lead didn’t last long. Jack Downing delivered the equalizer before fans returned to their seats.
“We scored the go-ahead goal, then had a bad turnover at the (blue) line,” Morris said. “That stuff will kill momentum.”
Vey gave the Monarchs an early boost. The rookie buried a first-period rebound from the left-wing circle for his 12th goal. Zatkoff stopped 22 consecutive shots before Mike Hoffman’s 5-on-3 goal pulled the Senators even in the second period.
“It had that kind of (playoff) feel the whole game,” said Cliche, whose 15th tally upped the club’s OT record to 5-0. “I think it was pretty good to come back, like this, in overtime and get the two points on those guys.”