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Monarchs go up 2-0 with another OT win

MANCHESTER, N.H. (theahl.com)Nic Dowd poked in a rebound with 5:36 gone in overtime as the Manchester Monarchs defeated the Utica Comets, 2-1, in Game 2 of the Calder Cup Finals at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Sunday evening.

With their second overtime win in as many nights, the Monarchs grab a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven championship series.

The Calder Cup Finals now head to Utica, with Game 3 set for Wednesday night (7 p.m. ET, AHL Live).

The intensity from Saturday’s Game 1 carried over into the start of Game 2, and the Monarchs broke through with 54.8 seconds left in the first period as Zach O’Brien deflected Sean Backman’s shot over the shoulder of Jacob Markstrom for a power-play goal and a 1-0 lead. It was the third goal of the playoffs for O’Brien.

Nicklas Jensen tied the game 1:12 into the second period, knocking down a clearing attempt at the blue line and firing a slap shot past Jean-Francois Berube from the top of the left-wing circle. It was the third goal of the postseason for Jensen, back in the Comets lineup after sitting out the previous three games.

The game remained scoreless through the rest of regulation, Markstrom holding the deadlock with a glove save on Brian O’Neill with just 2:22 left. Shots on goal in the third period were 8-3 in favor of Manchester.

Comets defenseman Peter Andersson was whistled for a delay of game penalty in the final second of regulation, giving Manchester a golden opportunity with a power play to begin the OT period, but they failed to convert.

On the winning goal, Dowd tracked down a loose puck behind the Comets net, swept in front and put a shot on goal that Markstrom stopped but could not cover. Dowd got to the rebound and slipped it under Markstrom for his fifth goal of the postseason.

Manchester finished the night outshooting Utica, 39-25, including 7-1 in the OT period. Markstrom (11-9) made 37 saves, but lost for the first time in eight tries following a loss this postseason. Berube (13-3) stopped 24 of 25 shots in the win.

The Monarchs were 1-for-5 on the power play, while the Comets went 0-for-4.

NOTES: This marked just the fourth time in AHL history that the first two games of the Calder Cup Finals both required overtime (1938, 1957, 1998)… Manchester has won 15 straight home games since its last loss, exactly three months ago (Mar. 7)… The Monarchs improved to 13-0 this postseason when scoring the game’s first goal… Manchester has not trailed during the series, but has only played with a lead for 6:09; the teams have been tied for 123:37 of the 129:46 played… Each team made one lineup change from Game 1: Kevin Raine replaced Jeff Schultz for Manchester, and Jensen drew in for Wacey Hamilton for Utica.

2015 Calder Cup Finals – Series “O” (best-of-7)
E1-Manchester Monarchs vs. W1-Utica Comets
Game 1 – Sat., June 6 – MANCHESTER 3, Utica 2 (OT)
Game 2 – Sun., June 7 – MANCHESTER 2, Utica 1 (OT)
Game 3 – Wed., June 10 – Manchester at Utica, 7:00
Game 4 – Fri., June 12 – Manchester at Utica, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sat., June 13 – Manchester at Utica, 7:00
*Game 6 – Tue., June 16 – Utica at Manchester, 7:00
*Game 7 – Wed., June 17 – Utica at Manchester, 7:00
   *if necessary… All times Eastern