Monarchs get down, pick themselves up
MANCHESTER — The Manchester Monarchs scored six goals over the final 27 minutes to erase an early 2-0 deficit and complete a 6-4 win over the Portland Pirates in front of 4,969 fans at Verizon Wireless Arena Saturday night.
It was the second time in as many nights that Manchester fell behind early. But unlike a Friday night 4-3 loss to Providence, on Saturday the Monarchs (3-1-0 ) completed the comeback and earned two points.
“We proved to ourselves that we could come back,” said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. “That’s the good part about the effort. I thought we were really strong in the third. We did not play with a whole lot of structure, but the compete (level) was there.”
Things looked bad to start the third period for Manchester. The game was tied 3-3, but two quick Monarchs penalties gave Portland (1-2-0) 1:32 of five-on-three power play time. Manchester not only killed the two-man advantage, but also scored a shorthanded goal to take a 4-3 lead.
Defenseman Andrew Campbell cleared the puck for Manchester and rookie Tyler Toffoli tracked the puck down and moved in alone on Pirates goalie Chad Johnson, beating him high glove-side at 2:08.
“That’s the turning point,” Campbell said. “Not only to kill it but to come out with a shorthanded goal is obviously huge.”
Manchester pushed the lead to 5-3 at 9:02 on a goal from Linden Vey. Rookie Tanner Pearson sprang Vey for a breakaway and Vey put on a couple moves before sliding the puck five-hole.
Portland came right back to make it a game, pulling within a goal at 13:25. David Rundblad’s shot was knocked down by traffic in front of the net, but Brendan Shinnimin banged the puck home from the slot to beat Martin Jones.
The Monarchs held Portland off the rest of the way and locked up the win with an empty net goal from Andrei Loktionov with 19 seconds remaining.
“We want to come out with better starts than we’ve had the last two nights but we battled hard and showed a lot of character coming back,” Jones said.
Portland struck just 44 seconds into the game when Manchester’s Brian O’Neill turned the puck over at neutral ice and Pirate Rob Klinkhammer intercepted and sent Alexandre Bolduc in alone on the left side for a wrist shot that beat Jones high glove-side.
Portland made it 2-0 at 16:25 with a power-play goal. Oliver Ekman-Larsson kept the puck in at the blue line and sent a pass down to Chris Conner on the left post for a redirection past Jones.
Manchester was able to come back in a wild second period. The Monarchs cut the Pirates’ lead to 2-1 at 13:08 with a power-play goal from rookie Tanner Pearson. David Kolomatis’ shot from the right boards was tipped by Pearson in front for his first pro goal.
The Monarchs tied the game at 15:37 with another power-play goal, again from Pearson on a tip in the slot off a Kolomatis shot from the left.
“We started to create chances and capitalized on them,” Pearson said. “D.K. threw some nice shots in there for me to tip. To get two goals was special.”
Portland reclaimed the lead just 33 seconds later when Conner broke in alone on Jones and backhanded a slider through the five-hole.
Manchester capped the scoring in the second period with a goal at 18:44 from Slava Voynov. Just after a power play chance had ended, the Monarchs held the puck in the zone and Stefan Legein fed Voynov in the right circle for a sharp wrist shot to beat Johnson.
The Monarchs are off until Saturday when they host Worcester at 7 p.m. Binghamton comes to visit next Sunday for a 4 p.m. game to celebrate Canadian Heritage Night.