Jones, Monarchs stay alive with Game 3 win
Manchester's David Meckler scores on Springfield's Curtis McElhinney in the second period of Thursday's game in Manchester. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)
The Manchester Monarchs knocked off the Springfield Falcons, 2-1, on Thursday night at Verizon Wirelesss Arena and now they need ice in the rink for a couple more days. At least.
Springfield leads the best-of-five AHL Eastern Conference quarterfinal series two games to one. Game 4 is back at the Verizon on Saturday night at 7.
"We live for another day," said Monarchs coach Mark Morris.
If the Monarchs had lost, arena workers likely would have been taking the ice out of the arena for the summer as you read this.
The Monarchs foiled that plan.
They are the No. 7 seed in the quarterfinals and they played the No. 2 Falcons tough in a pair of games last weekend in Springfield, but lost both games in overtime.
"We were able to build some confidence, even though we lost," said forward David Meckler, who scored the winning goal and assisted on the other. "We know we can play with them and we showed it tonight."
Meckler potted the Monarchs' second power-play goal of the game with 4:30 left in the second period to put his team up 2-1.
Goalie Martin Jones and his defenders held on from there.
Jones shut the Falcons down over the last two-and-a-half periods and he finished with 32 saves.
"He was very, very good for us," Morris said. "In the second period we had some lulls and got a little sloppy with our decision making and puck handling and he stood tall. We didn't get the puck in on a couple of rushes and we ended up giving up two-on-zeroes."
Jones held his ground.
The Monarchs also killed off a Springfield power play just past the midway point of the third period.
Manchester was outshot 10-4 in the third period and Jones & Co. faced a lot of pressure down the stretch.
"We had to step up and play some good defense," Meckler said. "They put a hard push on toward the end. It felt good to win."
The teams matched power-play goals by defensemen in the first half of the opening period.
The Monarchs got theirs first, 4:49 into the game, when Nick Deslauriers slid from the right to the center of the ice and beat Curtis McElhinney (26 saves) with a shot from just inside the blue line. Colton Yellow Horn and Meckler assisted.
David Savard answered with a four-on-three goal at 8:43 when he one-timed a pass from Nick Drazenovic.
It was the second goal in the three games for both Deslauriers and Savard. Deslauriers had four goals in 63 regular-season games. Savard had five in 60.
Meckler put a rebound behind McElhinney with 4:30 left in the second period for the winner. Jordan Weal put the puck toward the net and Brandon Kozun also had an assist.
"I was doing my best to screen in front," Meckler said. "Our game plan was to have guys shoot the puck and get it through and luckily it squeaked through and I was able to capitalize. It went through my legs and hit the pad and I was able to bury the rebound."
The Monarchs had the better of the chances in the first period. The Falcons turned that around in the second, but Jones stopped all 11 of their shots and then 10 more in the third.
The highlight reel offering: a glove save on Michael Chaput shot from in close in the first five minutes of the second period. Midway through that period, Jones somehow denied Andrew Joudrey with his right leg pad as the forward tried to stuff the puck behind him off a Cody Bass setup.
Not long after that, Meckler got his goal and from there Jones and the Monarchs protected their lead and eventually their win.
They need to do it again on Saturday.
Game 5, if the Monarchs can win Saturday and force it, will be on Sunday at 4 in Springfield.