Alex Broadhurst scored the go-ahead with 11:25 remaining in regulation and Lake Erie held on for a 4-3 win over Ontario in Game 1 of the AHL’s Western Conference Finals on Saturday night in Ontario, Calif.
Game 2 is Sunday night in Ontario (10 p.m. ET, AHL Live) with the Monsters leading the best-of-seven series, 1-0.
Broadhurst’s goal came 19 seconds after the Reign — who trailed by two entering the third period — had tied things up at 3-3.
After a scoreless opening 20 minutes, Ontario broke through at the 4:23 mark of the second period as Sean Backman ripped a shot from the top of the left-wing circle that beat Forsberg (2-0) high to the glove side.
Just 1:13 later, Josh Anderson poked home a rebound on a Monsters power play to give Lake Erie a 2-1 lead. It was the sixth goal of the postseason for Anderson.
Then off a faceoff win to the left of Budaj, Craig collected a loose puck and netted his third goal of the playoffs, staking the Monsters to a 3-1 lead at 9:46. The three Lake Erie goals came in a span of 2:36.
Lake Erie carried the two-goal lead into the second intermission, but the Reign cut into the deficit early in the third as Nic Dowd walked in down the left side and fired a shot that beat a screened Forsberg at 1:38, his fourth goal of the postseason.
Ontario tied things up with 11:44 remaining in regulation as the Reign forced a turnover off a faceoff loss and Backman found Joel Lowry, who swatted a shot from the left-wing dot that went through Forsberg to make it 3-3.
But just 19 seconds later, the Monsters regained the lead for good when Zach Werenski’s shot hit the skate of a Reign defender in front and went right to Broadhurst, who banged home his third playoff goal.
Adrian Kempe hit the post for Ontario and Forsberg made a big stop on Dowd in the final minute to preserve the win.
NOTES: Lake Erie’s three-goal outburst marked just the fifth time all season that Ontario allowed three goals in a single period, and just the second time at home… Ontario was outshot in a game (34-30) for the first time this postseason… Budaj (7-3) finished with 30 saves for the Reign, but allowed four goals in a game for the first time in his last 25 starts… Lake Erie scored four goals for the 17th time in its last 25 contests… The Monsters were 1-for-4 on the power play in Game 1, while the Reign went 1-for-2.
Western Conference Finals – Series “N” (best-of-7)
P1-Ontario Reign vs. C2-Lake Erie Monsters
Game 1 – Sat., May 21 – Lake Erie 4, ONTARIO 3
Game 2 – Sun., May 22 – Lake Erie at Ontario, 10:00
Game 3 – Tue., May 24 – Ontario at Lake Erie, 7:00
Game 4 – Thu., May 26 – Ontario at Lake Erie, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sat., May 28 – Ontario at Lake Erie, noon
*Game 6 – Tue., May 31 – Lake Erie at Ontario, 10:00
*Game 7 – Wed., June 1 – Lake Erie at Ontario, 10:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern
— AHL (@TheAHL) May 22, 2016