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November 25. 2012 8:31PM

Monarchs lose lead, then lose game in overtime, 3-2


Manchester Monarchs goalie Martin Jones watches the deflection after making a save as Portland Pirates Chris Brown chases during the second period of their AHL game played at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester Sunday afternoon. (MARK BOLTON/UNION LEADER)
MANCHESTER - David Rundblad scored 1:37 into overtime to lift the Portland Pirates to a 3-2 overtime win over the Manchester Monarchs in front of 3,814 fans at Verizon Wireless Arena Sunday.

It was the third overtime game in as many days for Manchester (9-6-3) and also the third consecutive game in which the Monarchs had a third-period lead that they could not keep.

"It was one that got away. Another one," said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. "We've got to find ways to seal the deal when we do get a lead and play well with it. We're finding ways to let other teams hang around long enough to keep the game in question."

Rundblad scored by taking the puck end-to-end and dancing around a pair of Monarchs defensemen before cutting in front of the net and roofing a shot past the glove of goalie Martin Jones.

"You'd like to have better support up the middle of the ice," Morris said. "I think the guy got a step and was able to knife his way through and after looking at the replay it looked like Jonesy was a little deep in the net, too."

Portland (8-8-2) forced overtime with a goal at 14:31 of the third period. Chris Brown collected a loose puck in the slot and quickly fired off a wrist shot to beat Jones five-hole. It was one of the few Jones missed in the game during a 47-save effort.

"We're giving up too many shots against. He gave us enough saves to win the game in regulation," Morris said. "We've got to be committed to being better defensive hockey players and play 200 feet of ice instead of the neutral zone and the offensive zone. That's the last component to really solidify a player's career and we still have a lot of inexperience in that area."

The Monarchs had taken a 2-1 lead with a goal from rookie Tyler Toffoli at 12:22 of the third period. Rookie Tanner Pearson made a nice lead-in pass from the center ice circle to a streaking Toffoli on the right wing side and Toffili finished with a wrist shot to beat Chad Johnson high to the glove side.

The line of Pearson, Toffoli and Linden Vey had been buzzing all game, with many near-miss chances in the offensive zone. Toffoli now has five goals in his last three games and leads the team with nine.

"I had two or three chances before that and Pearse had a chance that hit the goalie's glove. I don't know how that didn't go in. And Veysey was buzzing all night and making plays," Toffoli said. "I did feel like we were due. It was good to get that one."

But the lead would not last and Portland ended the evening with an extra point in the standings. Overall on the weekend, the Monarchs did earn four of a possible six points, which is not a bad showing considering the injuries that have plagued the team.

"All in all, if you look at the points we were able to accumulate on the weekend with the lineup we have, I'm sure we'll feel better about it tomorrow," Morris said. "But right now it kind of stings. You never like to lose in overtime. We put forth a lot of effort but our inexperience is still a little glaring now."

Manchester took a 1-0 lead at 9:54 of the first period on defenseman Jake Muzzin's first goal of the season. Jordan Nolan carried the puck along the right wing boards and fed Muzzin in the high slot. Muzzin faked a shot, saw he had some room and skated in closer before wristing a low shot that beat Johnson five-hole.

The Pirates tied the game at the 15:25 mark with a power-play goal. Monarch Brian O'Neill was not able to clear the puck, backhanding it right to Oliver Ekman-Larsson in the slot. Ekman-Larsson blasted a shot that hit Jones and deflected into the net.

iclark@unionleader.com

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