MANCHESTER, NH – Center Oscar Moller recorded two goals as the Manchester Monarchs defeated the Portland Pirates by a 6-1 score at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Saturday night. The Monarchs Care Foundation and the United States Marines also collected new and unused toys for Toys For Tots upon entry at Saturday’s game.
Manchester (14-7-1-1) recorded their 14th win of the season and remains in sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division with 30 points. Portland (13-6-1-0) took their sixth loss of the season and sits three points behind the Monarchs in second place in the Atlantic Division.
“Today it was really great to see guys playing a complete game,” explained Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “All four lines were rolling, and we hope we can bottle it.
“Guys are truly taking ownership of the team now. It is a big step for us to play this way against a real good team and have success.”
Moller scored his third goal of the season at 9:30 of the first period to give the Monarchs the 2-1 advantage. Aggressive fore-checking by center Marc-Andre Cliche in the offensive zone forced a turnover. After collecting the puck, Cliche sent the puck up to a streaking Moller. A quick pass by Moller to his left connected with center Andrei Loktionov and the return pass on the give-and-go was sent home by Moller.
Center Corey Elkins scored his fifth goal of the season at 2:36 of the first period. A blast from the point by Loktionov was initially stopped by Portland goaltender David Leggio. The puck spilled out to Elkins, who took a shot that was denied by Leggio. Falling into the butterfly, Leggio was unable to keep up with Elkins, who skated to the left post and flipped the rebound past the sprawling netminder for the first goal of the game.
Center Brayden Schenn scored his third goal in two games with his tally at 13:43 of the first period to give Manchester the 3-0 lead. A turnover by the Portland defense was collected by Moller in the right face-off circle. A quick dish back to the left point was picked up by defenseman Andrew Campbell. A soft wrister on goal was deflected past Leggio by Schenn in the crease.
Making the score 4-0, center Justin Azevedo scored his seventh goal of the season at 17:44 of the first period. Left wing Bud Holloway passed the puck forward to right wing Brandon Kozun entering the offensive zone down the right wing. At the top of the face-off circle, Kozun passed the puck to his left where it was blasted home by Azevedo at the top of the slot.
The Pirates found their way on the scoreboard when defenseman Nick Crawford tallied his second goal of the season at 1:44 of the second period. On an offensive rush, center Matt Ellis broke into the Monarchs zone alongside right wing Mark Mancari. A quick pass to Ellis’ right connected with Mancari, who fired a powerful blast on Monarchs goaltender Martin Jones. The ensuing rebound spilled out toward the left post and onto the stick of a crashing Crawford, who caught Jones out of position for the goal.
Moller scored his second goal of the evening at 4:04 of the second period. Cliche sent a pass forward into the offensive zone where it was collected by Loktionov. Streaking alongside Loktionov, a quick cross-crease feed caught the stick of Moller, whose shot was initially denied by a sprawling Portland defenseman. Continuing to put pressure on the Pirates, Moller eventually forced the puck past the falling bodies in the crease for his fourth goal of the season.
Left wing Ray Kaunisto scored his third goal of the season at 10:09 of the third period. Defenseman Jake Muzzin fed the puck toward the blueline that was gathered by Kaunisto. Facing heavy pressure from the Pirates defense, Kaunisto was forced to the right wing corner. While being shoved back, Kaunisto attempted a backhand shot on goal that found a seam between Portland goaltender Jhonas Enroth’s pads to give the Monarchs a 5-0 lead.
Jones (5-1-0) earned his fifth victory of the season, stopping 34-of-35 shots. Leggio (8-2-0) drew his second losing decision of the season, playing the entire first period and halting 12-of-16 shots on net. Enroth (5-4-0) relieved Leggio at the start of the second period, stopping 24-of-26 shots on goal.
Manchester did not have a power play opportunity in the game. Portland was 0-for-3 with the man advantage.
Notables: Tonight was the first game since March 19 that the Monarchs did not have a power play opportunity in a contest…Manchester’s 42 shots on goal is a season high…Manchester’s four goals in the first period also marked a season high for goals in one period…Center Brayden Schenn has three goals in his last two games…Center Andrei Loktionov has recorded 10 points in his last eight games (1-9=10) and has also recorded 14 points (2-12=14) since being assigned to Manchester on November 2...With two goals this evening, center Oscar Moller has 10 points (4-6=10) in his last eight games.
The Monarchs travel to Worcester, Massachusetts as they face-off against the Worcester Sharks on Sunday, November 28 in a 3:00 p.m. contest at the DCU Center. Catch all of the play-by-play action of Monarchs hockey with Ken Cail on the Monarchs Radio Network WGAM 900/1250 AM and at www.manchestermonarchs.com.