MANCHESTER, NH – The Manchester Monarchs got third period goals from Gasper Kopitar and Matt Leitner, but their comeback fell short, dropping a shootout to the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, 3-2, on Trophies Night at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
The Monarchs (20-11-0-2) have now split the first two games with the Swamp Rabbits (16-12-5-0) heading into Sunday’s rubber match.
“I thought it was a pretty good game,” Head Coach Rich Seeley said. “Give them credit. They are a good hockey team. There was good physical play and I think tomorrow’s game will be more of the same.”
Greenville got on the board late in the first period when Richard Nejezchleb scored his 5th goal of the season at 18:12. Nejezchleb took a cross-ice pass from Joey Holka and buried a one-timer past Monarchs goaltender, Cedrick Desjardins.
The Swamp Rabbits doubled their lead at 18:20 of the second period when Darian Dziurzynski scored his 6th goal of the season. Dziurzynski deflected a shot off the stick of Rob Kwiet past new Monarchs goaltender, Derek Carr, from the top of the slot.
Kopitar put the Monarchs on the board at 5:40 of the third period, scoring his 5th goal of the season. After a face-off win to the left of Swamp Rabbits net minder, Allen York, Yann Sauvé unleashed a shot from the point that Kopitar redirected past York from the low slot.
Leitner tied the game at 2-2 with 2:33 to go in the game on his 8th goal of the season. Leitner collected a Sauvé shot from behind the net and stuffed the puck past York on his forehand, sending the game to overtime.
In the extra period, Joey Diamond had two chances to end the game, one on a penalty shot after being pulled down on a breakaway by a Greenville defender and the other on a clean breakaway. Allen stood tall and stopped both chances and play remained scoreless for the remainder of 3-on-3 overtime.
The Swamp Rabbits got out to a 2-0 lead in the shootout before Kopitar and Derek Arnold netted do-or-die chances to send the game into sudden death. After a Greenville score, Michael Boivin looked to send the Monarchs into round 5, but after review, his shot was determined to have hit the crossbar, giving Greenville the win.
The Monarchs return to the ice on Sunday Jan. 3 at 3 p.m. and will look to get back on the winning track in the final game of the three-game set against the Swamp Rabbits at the Jungle.
- Matt Leitner scored the 30th point of his professional career
- Doug Carr relieved Cedrick Desjardins to begin the second period
- Manchester didn’t have a power play chance for the first time this season