MANCHESTER — The Manchester Monarchs capped a long weekend with a hard-fought 4-3 shootout win over the St. John's IceCaps Sunday in front of 5,394 fans at Verizon Wireless Arena.
Manchester swept the weekend, beating Worcester Friday, traveling through the snow to win in Hartford Saturday and then knocking off St. John's and improving to 34-14-7. Trailing first-place Manchester in the Atlantic Division standings, St. John's fell to 28-19-4.
"We didn't have too many glitches and (goalie Martin) Jones was stellar," said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. "Jones was the difference-maker for us and I suspect we won't see him again here in Manchester any time soon."
Jones, who will be headed back to Los Angeles perhaps as early as this week, was perfect in the shootout, stopping all four St. John's shooters and turning aside 40 shots in regulation and overtime. The first two Manchester shooters, Nick Shore and Jordan Weal, scored on IceCaps goalie Michael Hutchinson to give the Monarchs a 2-0 edge in the shootout.
St. John's broke a 2-2 tie 1:35 into the third period. Ben Chiarot's shot from the left point was tipped in the slot by John Albert, redirecting the puck over Jones' left shoulder for the 3-2 lead.
Manchester tied the game at 7:30 thanks to some hustle from Tyler Toffoli. The puck was played around the boards in the St. John's end and Hutchinson went behind his cage to get it but found Toffoli racing in to take it away.
Toffoli tried to get it to Linden Vey out front but the puck skipped past him to Nick Deslauriers at the left point and Deslauriers drilled a shot into the open net. It was Deslauriers' 17th goal of the season and second of the game and forced the eventual overtime.
After a scoreless first period, newly acquired winger Steve Quailer scored his first goal with the Monarchs at 5:24 to give the home team a 1-0 lead. Scott Sabourin led the rush out of his own end and passed to Quailer in the neutral zone. Quailer carried the puck deep to the right circle and snapped a shot past Hutchinson's glove.
St. John's tied the game 1:26 later on a Carl Klingberg goal. Eric O'Dell dropped the puck to Klingberg in the high slot and he blasted a shot that went off Jones and into the net for the equalizer.
The IceCaps took a 2-1 lead at 14:16 of the second period. Kael Mouillierat won a battle for the puck along the left wing boards, sending a quick pass to Adam Lowry all alone in the low slot. Lowry finished by sliding the puck through Jones' five-hole.
Manchester tied the game with 2.1 seconds remaining in the second period. Rookie Derek Forbort's shot from the left point was stopped by Hutchinson. Deslauriers was camped on the doorstep and took a couple whacks at the rebound, popping the puck past Hutchinson's glove and in.
"That was a huge goal that Deslauriers scored in the dying seconds there," Morris said. "It gave us some life."