Nick Shore‘s second of the postseason at 14:57 of the first period proved to be the game-winner as the Manchester Monarchs defeated the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 2-1 on Tuesday night to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, winning the series 4-1.
For the seventh time in 10 games, Manchester opened the scoring as Adrian Kempe corralled the puck in the crease to beat Penguins netminder Matt Murray just 2:01 into the first period. The goal was his second of the playoffs, and assisted by Sean Backman. Shore and David Van der Gulik teamed up for the second night in a row to put the Monarchs up 2-0, a shutout that would be preserved until late in the second.
For the eighth-straight game, Penguins rookie Conor Sheary recorded a point, this time getting the puck and rifling it from the point, effectively breaking up J.F. Berube‘s shutout bid. With 12 points in eight games, Sheary currently sits second in AHL rookie scoring behind Manchester’s Michael Mersch. Brian Dumoulin and Andrew Ebbett each added assists on the Sheary goal, with Dumoulin picking up a point in back-to-back games.
Murray stopped 4-of-6 before being replaced by Jeff Zatkoff for the second night in a row. Zatkoff stopped all 22 shots he faced. Berube turned aside 28-of-29.
This marks the first time since 2010 that the Monarchs have made it to the conference final, and the third time in franchise history. They will face the winner of the Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Hershey Bears and Hartford Wolf Pack, which is currently tied at two games apiece. Game 5 of Hershey vs. Hartford is Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in Hershey.
Eastern Conference Semifinals – Series “I” (best-of-7)
1-Manchester Monarchs vs. 4-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Game 1 – Wed., May 6 – MANCHESTER 4, W-B/Scranton 3 (3OT)
Game 2 – Thu., May 7 – MANCHESTER 5, W-B/Scranton 2
Game 3 – Sat., May 9 – W-B/SCRANTON 2, Manchester 1
Game 4 – Mon., May 11 – Manchester 5, W-B/SCRANTON 2
Game 5 – Tue., May 12 – Manchester 2, W-B/SCRANTON 1