Manchester wins 4-2 over Portland
Monarchs score four unanswered goals; re-gain first place in Atlantic Division
Manchester (40-21-2-6) regained sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division with 88 points. Portland (40-18-5-2) drops to second place in the Atlantic Division with 86 points on the season.
“Things sure didn’t start out the way we scripted it, but we came on steadily as the game progressed,” explained Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris following the victory in Portland. “Being down 2-0 early to a strong team like Portland isn’t the ideal way to go about trying to muster a road win, but we found a way.”
“A strong goaltending effort from ‘Zats’ (Jeff Zatkoff) helped us kill off several penalties and we did a nice job denying the Portland entries into our zone,” said Morris. “We eventually found our scoring touch to pull ahead late on a nice tip-in by Jordan Nolan on a Jake Muzzin shot. Bud Holloway added an insurance goal to help us secure an important game.”
“It was a character win against a solid team in a playoff-type atmosphere,” concluded Morris.
Nolan’s fifth goal of the season at 14:22 of the third period gave Manchester the 3-2 lead late in the contest. Muzzin cleared the Monarchs defensive zone and skated up ice with the puck. Elkins skated around the Portland cage from left to right. Elkins then fed the puck back toward the point to Voynov, who sent a pass along the blueline to Muzzin. A powerful blast by the rookie defenseman was tipped past Portland goaltender David Leggio for the game-winning goal.
Center Luke Adam scored his 25th goal of the season at 5:41 of the first period. With the offensive unit for the Pirates firmly entrenched in the Monarchs zone, a heavy fore-check by Portland forced a turnover in the slot. Collecting the puck off a Monarchs defender’s stick, Adam wristed the puck past Monarchs goaltender Jeff Zatkoff for the Pirates first goal of the afternoon.
Defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani scored his 11th goal of the season at 10:20 of the first period. Following a turnover in the defensive zone by defenseman Viatcheslav Voynov, Adam picked the puck off near the left post. Gragnani, who crashed the left post from the left point, collected the delayed feed by Adam and beat the lunging Zatkoff for the second Portland goal of the contest.
Defenseman Jake Muzzin scored his third goal of the season at 12:52 of the first period, halving the Portland advantage and putting Manchester on the board. Defenseman David Kolomatis fed center Corey Elkins, who skated into the zone along the left side half wall. Elkins sent the puck right to left where it was gathered by Muzzin at the top of the right face-off circle. A powerful blast through heavy crease traffic beat Leggio, bringing Manchester’s deficit to within one goal.
Center John Zeiler scored his sixth goal of the season at 11:26 of the second period. Following an offensive zone face-off win by Zeiler, left wing David Meckler skated behind the Portland cage. Faking back and forth from the left post to right post looking for an opportunity, Meckler shifted the Portland defense out of position. Seeing an opening in front, Meckler fed the puck around the net to Zeiler, who forced the puck home near the left post for the game-tying goal.
Right wing Bud Holloway scored an empty net goal at 19:18 of the third period, adding insurance late in the game for the Monarchs. Following a Portland turnover in the Monarchs defensive zone, Holloway gathered the puck and sent a bouncing puck up ice that found the back of the vacated Portland goal for Holloway’s 24th marker of the season.
Zatkoff (17-12-5) collected his 17th victory of the season, stopping 26-of-28 shots on goal. Leggio (19-5-0) drew his fifth loss of the season, halting 34-of-37 shots on goal.
Manchester went 0-for-6 on the power play. Portland was 1-for-5 with the man advantage.
Notables: With the victory tonight, the Monarchs broke Portland goaltender David Leggio’s 10 game winning streak, dating back to January 14…Goaltender Jeff Zatkoff has not recorded a regulation loss in his last four appearances, collecting a record of 3-0-1-0 during that span…Defenseman Jake Muzzin has three points in his last two games (1-2=3)…Center John Zeiler has recorded five points over his last three games, including three goals and two assists (3-2=5)…Center Oscar Moller’s eight shots on goal tied center Andrei Loktionov’s season-high total for shots on goal, set on December 19 against the Worcester Sharks…Manchester has out-shot their opponent in 14 of their last 16 contests.