MANCHESTER, NH – Tanner Pearson had the game-winning goal and an assist, and Brandon Kozun added a goal and an assist, to lead the Manchester Monarchs to a 3-1 victory over the Connecticut Whale Friday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
Cam Talbot made 42 saves for the Whale, who were outshot 45-20 in the game, and Chris Kreider had the only Connecticut goal.
The Whale are now 35-29-5-3 on the season and remain at 78 points and in seventh place in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Connecticut is still three points ahead of Hershey, which lost 3-2 in Providence, but is now only one point up on Norfolk, which moved into eighth with a 4-3 win at Worcester.
Manchester had the better of the play for much of the first period, and Talbot was forced to be sharp. Monarch captain Marc-Andre Cliché rang a shot of the goalpost on Talbot’s stick side near the 11:30 mark, and Talbot robbed Kozun with a glove save at 12:41, as Kozun tried to roof a rebound.
Nick Deslauriers was called for slashing at 17:57 to create the game’s first power play, and the Whale capitalized. A Kris Newbury feed hit Benn Ferriero’s skates just outside the Manchester blue line, and the puck bounced up the slot. Kreider jumped on it, got behind the Monarch defense with a burst of speed, and beat Manchester goaltender Martin Jones (19 saves) with a backhand, for Kreider’s 12th goal of the season.
The Whale were able to nurse that lead for nearly a full period, despite giving up the first 13 shots of the second frame. The Monarchs would break through for a pair of goals only 1:52 apart, though, late in the second.
Manchester finally got on the board on its third power play of the game, at 17:05. Linden Vey passed the puck off the left-wing boards and it hit the skates of Jordan Weal, whose stick was tied up in front by Stu Bickel, and deflected into the goal.
Then the Whale had a breakdown deep in their own zone at 18:57, allowing Pearson to get open at the left side of the slot. Kozun and Vey combined to get the puck from behind the net to Pearson, and he buried his 15th of the year behind Talbot for a 2-1 Manchester lead.
The Monarchs did a good job of protecting that lead in the third period, outshooting the Whale 14-5, and Kozun sealed the victory with an empty-net goal with 36.9 seconds left. That was a power-play goal, after Newbury was called for slashing at 17:52.
Follow Pro Hockey News on Twitter – @prohockeynews