Loktionov Scores in Return from Injury
|Loktionov scored in his first game back from injury, scoring his first goal since Nov. 21.
Manchester (37-26-3-6) remains in third place in the Atlantic Division standings with 83 points. Bridgeport (35-28-4-6) is in fifth place in the Atlantic Division with 80 points.
“I thought we had a lot of jump,” explained Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris following the victory. “Early goals gave us the momentum to have a strong game. I was encouraged by our aggressive forecheck and our neutral zone play. (Jonathan) Bernier had another strong game and made several saves look easy.”
Skating on the power play, defenseman David Kolomatis scored his seventh goal of the season at 9:32 of the first period to double the Monarchs lead to 2-0. After center Marc-Andre Cliche won the face-off in the neutral zone, Martinez collected the puck and fed it over to Kolomatis on the opposite side. Kolomatis took two strides up the right wing before he tossed the puck on goal just before the Sound Tigers blueline. The quick wrister caught goaltender Nathan Lawson by surprise and trickled past him and into the net for the eventual game-winner.
The Monarchs jumped out to the early 1-0 advantage at 3:15 of the first period when center Justin Azevedo ripped a slap shot past Lawson. Martinez fired a shot from the point that went wide of the net for left wing Bud Holloway to corral. Set up near the inside of the right face-off dot, Holloway dished the puck to his right where Azevedo fired the puck past Lawson whose vision was shielded by heavy crease traffic. The goal was Azevedo’s 12th of the season and was the first of three tallies for the Monarchs in the opening frame.
Right wing Trevor Lewis scored his second goal of the season at 16:24 of the first period to give the Monarchs a three-goal advantage heading into the locker room. Martinez collected the puck at the left point from Kolomatis. A powerful slap shot on goal by Martinez was knocked down in the slot by a cluster of players. Center Gabe Gauthier quickly won the ensuing puck battle and sent a pass to the right wing boards where Lewis collected it. Lawson, down on the ice after attempting to stop Martinez’s shot, made a last minute lunge to his left but could not stop Lewis from connecting with the wide open net.
Skating in his first game since returning from an upper body injury he suffered during his NHL debut in Los Angeles on November 25, Monarchs center Andrei Loktionov tallied his seventh goal of the season 4:34 into the third period. Center Oscar Moller skated into the offensive zone with the puck along the left wing. At the top of the left face-off dot, Moller dropped a pass back to a sprinting Loktionov. A simple wrist shot from the top of the slot beat Lawson top shelf to extend the Monarchs lead to four goals.
Center Tyler Haskins scored his 10th goal of the season at 13:13 of the third period to put Bridgeport on the board late in the game and spoiled Monarchs goaltender Jonathan Bernier’s shutout bid. Defenseman Mark Wotton sent a pass behind the net to center Micheal Haley. Entrenched behind the Monarchs cage, center Tyler Haskins skated in from the right point and received a pass from Haley that was fired on net, beating Bernier blocker side for the Sound Tigers’ lone goal of the game.
Bernier (28-20-6) recorded his 28th victory of the season, halting 28-of-29 shots. Lawson (14-14-3) drew his 14th loss of the season, stopping 38-of-42 shots.
Manchester went 1-for-3 on the power play. Bridgeport was 0-for-2 with the man advantage.
NOTABLES: Center Andrei Loktionov’s third period goal was his first in a Monarchs uniform since November 21, prior to his call-up to Los Angeles (NHL) on November 23…With three assists tonight, defenseman Alec Martinez has eight points in his last five games (1-7=8)…Center Justin Azevedo has three goals in his last four games (3-0=3)…With tonight’s victory, goaltender Jonathan Bernier recorded his first win against Bridgeport since November 25…Manchester is now 19-1-1-1 when scoring first at home this season…Manchester remains undefeated at home (6-0-0-0) when scoring four goals in a game.