Shootout unkind to Monarchs, they fall to Springfield, 3-2
MANCHESTER - Thousands of teddy bears were donated to needy children, but the Springfield Falcons played Scrooge by defeating the Manchester Monarchs, 3-2, in a shootout in front of a strong Sunday crowd of 6,704 at Verizon Wireless Arena.
Manchester earned a point but fell to 12-11-4 on the season. Springfield recorded its first win in overtime or a shootout in six tries to improve to 15-5-5.
The Monarchs led, 2-1, in the third period but could not hold on.
"We played pretty darn good," said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. "It was there to win it but they're a darn good hockey team."
Cam Atkinson and Nick Drazenovic scored in the shootout on Springfield's first two shots. Manchester goalie Martin Jones stopped Matt Calvert on the third try, but on the other side of the ice Curtis McElhinney was perfect against Tanner Pearson, Robbie Czarnik, Marc-Andre Cliche and Linden Vey.
The loss was the seventh in a row for Jones, which established a franchise record. Jones (7-11-2) made 26 saves in the game and kept Manchester in the hunt early with strong play.
"I thought (Jones) played super in the first," Morris said. "Their goalie was there to shut us down right at the tail end."
The Monarchs avoided having to use the broadcast timeout midway through the third period as the opportunity to rain all those stuffed animals onto the ice for the annual "Teddy Bear Toss," which was slated to happen when Manchester scores its first goal.
Defenseman Thomas Hickey scored at 4:05 of the third to tie the game at 1-1. Andrei Loktionov won a faceoff in the Springfield zone, getting the puck back to Hickey at the right point for a wrist shot through traffic and past McElhinney's glove.
Manchester took its first lead of the game at 7:25. Brandon Kozun skated a two-on-one with Loktionov, holding the puck and cutting to the slot before ripping a wrist shot under the bar on the glove-side.
"At first I was thinking pass but the defenseman just kind of let me walk in," Kozun said. "If I get to that point, I'm going to shoot the puck. I got to a good scoring spot and gave it my best shot and it worked out."
The Falcons tied the game at 2-2 at 13:12 when Jonathan Audy-Marchessault one-timed a slap shot past Jones from the left circle off a David Savard feed.
The Monarchs had several scoring opportunities late in the game but came up empty. Defenseman Jake Muzzin had the best chance, but was robbed by a McElhinney glove save on his wide-open shot from the slot.
"You're not going to get many chances better than the ones we had," Morris said. "The fact of the matter is, you've got to score."
The game was the third in as many days for both teams, though Manchester had the tougher road by playing in Lewiston, Maine, for a 4-2 loss to Portland Friday night, riding over to Glens Falls, N.Y. Saturday for a 3-2 win over Adirondack and then returning to Manchester.
"I liked our lines. I liked our compete level. They've got a darn good hockey team," Morris said. "They've got quite a few guys that are going to be Columbus Blue Jackets. Atkinson is a dynamic player, Audy-Marchessault, Calvert, you can go right up and down their lineup and I doubt very much that if the NHL kicks into gear that they're going to be around."
Springfield took a 1-0 lead with the only goal of the second period. Good puck movement led to the score on the power play as Savard slid the puck from the high slot to Atkinson in the left circle and Atkinson blasted a slap shot over the shoulder of Jones at 3:59.
Manchester is off until Friday when Connecticut visits for a 7 p.m. game.