Near-misses doom Monarchs
Monarchs winger Brandon Kozun gets knocked off his skates in front of the Albany net. Manchester only managed to put one puck into the Devils' goal in a 3-1 loss Saturday night. (JAY REITER/Union leader)
MANCHESTER — The Manchester Monarchs spent most of the third period knocking on the door, but the Albany Devils just wouldn't let them in.
Albany escaped with a 3-1 win over the Monarchs in front of 5,413 fans at Verizon Wireless Arena Saturday night. Manchester dropped its franchise-record fifth consecutive home game in falling to 28-27-3, and will host Providence (26-24-6) today at 3 p.m.
The Monarchs went 0-for-8 on the power play, including missing on six extra-man chances in the third period. Near-misses, pucks bouncing just wide, hot Devils goalie Jeff Frazee and pucks banging off goal posts all added up to zeroes for Manchester as it tried desperately to tie the game while trailing 2-1.
“Frazee stood on his head and our inability to score goals is ever-apparent out there,” said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. “We're getting some great chances and we hustled and we competed. I think my biggest disappointment is our lack of execution at the tail end of the game.”
Still needing just a goal to tie, the Monarchs pulled goalie Martin Jones for an extra skater in the final 1:43. But poor decisions allowed an uncovered Vladimir Zharkov to collect a loose puck at neutral ice and skate in for an empty net goal at 19:01 to ice the game for Albany.
“We had no regard for the puck,” said a visibly frustrated Morris. “We were trying to carry the puck into traffic and we turned the puck over three times when we've got an extra skater out there when all we need to do is get the puck deep and get in there and win a puck battle and start shooting and get more traffic in front to give ourselves a chance to win.”
Morris took the blame, but noted that he can't help the players think out there.
“I can't explain the logic of some of the decision-making that happened on the ice,” Morris said. “I'm responsible for that, but I have no recourse as to how you can get inside somebody's helmet and help them think the game.”
After a scoreless first period, Albany (26-20-8) took a 1-0 lead at 3:18 of the second. Working the power play, the Devils moved the puck around and it eventually came to Eric Gelinas for a wrist shot from the high slot that beat Jones, who had trouble finding the puck through net-mouth traffic.
Albany went up 2-0 on a Steven Zalewski goal at 13:54. Zharkov was pulled down driving to the net and a penalty was upcoming. But as he fell to the ice, Zharkov was able to send the puck ahead to Zalewski, who reached out to tip it through Jones' pads as the goalie slid across the crease.
Manchester cut the lead in half with a goal at the 19:00 mark of the second. Defenseman Andrew Campbell made a nice breakout pass to Justin Azevedo at the Devils' blue line and Azevedo skated in alone on Frazee, beating him glove-side with a sharp wrist shot inside the right pipe.
But that was the only shot to elude Frazee all night as the Albany netminder made 38 saves, several of the highlight-reel variety.
“It is frustrating. We can't let it get to us,” Azevedo said.” We threw a lot of rubber at (Frazee). He played well. We've got to bounce back (today). We did play well. We just take positives out of it and move on.”