MANCHESTER — The Manchester Monarchs took control early and never let up, cruising to a 5-1 win over Binghamton in front of 4,305 fans at Verizon Wireless Arena Friday night.
Manchester improved to 29-12-7, tops in the AHL, and will host St. John’s tonight at 7. Binghamton dropped to 28-14-3. The Monarchs got goals from five different players, rookie goalie J.F Berube made 27 saves and Manchester avenged a 5-4 loss in early January at Binghamton.
“I thought we were pretty solid for almost the whole game,” said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. “It was a great team effort. All four lines were going pretty good. To win this one here feels pretty good because I really respect the job they did on us in their building and hopefully we returned the favor.”
Manchester took a 1-0 lead at 3:24 of the first period on Brian O’Neill’s 11th goal of the season. Jordan Weal fed O’Neill along the left wing boards on the rush and O’Neill cut into the circle before snapping a high shot past Senators goalie Nathan Lawson.
Tanner Pearson made it 2-0 at 15:21, escaping on a breakaway after Nick Deslauriers blocked a Daniel New slap shot at the blue line. Pearson finished the rush for his 15th goal of the season with a snap shot to beat Lawson glove side.
Manchester went up 3-0 at 17:43 on a shorthanded goal thanks to some friendly home boards. Pearson cleared the puck from the Manchester end and Lawson went behind the net to retrieve it, but the puck came off the kick plate at a strange angle, right to Linden Vey on the low right side for an easy goal into the open cage.
The Monarchs killed 1:34 of five-on-three power-play time for in the final minutes of the second period, keeping Binghamton from climbing back into the game.
“You (let them) make one goal and the next goal could be dangerous,” Berube said of killing the two-man advantage. “We did a good job defending and making sure we were clearing pucks and killing time.”
The Monarchs added two more goals in the second period to push the lead to 5-0. Defenseman Chris Huxley scored his first of the season at 9:26, sending a shot on net from the left point that made it through traffic and over Lawson’s shoulder.
A.J. Gale scored less than a minute later for the 5-0 score, beating Lawson high glove-side with a shot from the slot off a Nick Shore feed. That was all for Lawson in the net as he got the hook in favor of Andrew Hammond.
All that was left in the third period was the see if Berube could get the shutout. He did his part, making save after save as the Senators pressed. But a bit of bad luck cost the rookie netminder as Binghamton’s David Dziurzynski sent the puck toward the cage from the right boards and it hit a Monarch stick and went in at 17:09 to account for the 5-1 score.