MANCHESTER — It’s a fine line between wearing the goat’s horns or hero’s laurels.
Worcester’s Daniil Tarasov skated that line and came out on top, netting the winning goal in the shootout to push the Sharks to a 2-1 win over the Manchester Monarchs in front of 3,758 fans at Verizon Wireless Arena Sunday.
Tarasov was nearly the goat after taking not one but two penalties in overtime to give Manchester (16-5-5) almost four minutes of (ultimately futile) power-play time in the extra frame.
“We had a gazillion chances to beat (Worcester goalie Troy Grosenick) even before the overtime,” said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. “Our power play right now, we’ve got too many guys trying to do too many things without shooting the puck and we’ll address that. We had a big session this week and didn’t seem to make any ground up there.”
In the shootout, second-round shooter Jordan Weal put Manchester on top 1-0 by beating Grosenick with a nifty move and slipping the puck five-hole. But that was all the Monarchs would muster as Grosenick shut down Zach O’Brien, Andy Andreoff, Brandon Kozun and finally Tanner Pearson to seal the win.
Meanwhile, second-round Sharks shooter Dan DiSilva beat J.F. Berube with a shot that went in off Berube’s glove and then Tarasov backhanded a roof shot past Berube’s glove for what proved to be the winner.
Manchester took a 1-0 lead with a goal from O’Brien 57 seconds into the second period. O’Brien continued his hot play by notching his third goal of the season — and the weekend.
Sean Backman sent a backhand pass to O’Brien in the slot and O’Brien was spun around in the left circle and managed to sling a shot one goal to beat Grosenick inside the far post along the ice.
“Backs gave me a nice pass in the slot and I was kind of off balance and I tried to put it on net and I ended up falling into the boards,” O’Brien said. “I wasn’t really sure it went in but the guys came over and celebrated.”
The score remained 1-0 until the 5:47 mark of the third period when Worcester tied the game. Konrad Abeltshauser scored his first goal with a slap shot from the high slot. Berube was screened on the play and fell to the ice as the puck slammed home.
The Sharks (10-8-2) had the edge in play in the third period, pumping 17 shots on Berube in that frame alone and 38 total in the game.
The Monarchs appeared fatigued, playing their third game in as many days and having returned home late Saturday night after a 45-minute delay in Lewiston, Maine, due to an ice issue in a 4-3 shootout win against the Portland Pirates.
“It may have (been a factor),” Morris said. “We got delayed for quite a while and got home later than normal. Those are the breaks. You’ve got to suck it up.”
Manchester held on to force the overtime against Worcester and earn a point, then had the two big chances with power plays after Tarasov was whistled for slashing and later delay of game.
But the Manchester power play continued to struggle, possessing the puck but generating few shots. “We’ve got too many play-makers and not enough shooters. If you’re going to create disarray, you’ve got to shoot the puck and get guys going to the net. We over-handled the puck and stickhandle and try and force passes,” Morris said. “First and foremost, you’ve got to win a faceoff. Our guys aren’t gritty enough on that. We’ve got a lot of skill out there but no shooters and not enough grit.”