Markus Hannikainen and Lukas Sedlak recorded a goal and an assist each and Anton Forsberg made 27 saves to backstop Lake Erie to a 3-2 win over Ontario in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals on Sunday night.
After opening the best-of-seven series with back-to-back road wins, the Monsters take a commanding 2-0 lead home to Cleveland as they prepare to host Game 3 on Tuesday night (7 p.m. ET, AHL Live).
Lake Erie took a 1-0 lead at 12:28 of the opening period during a delayed penalty. Hannikainen carried the puck into the zone, avoided defenders and dropped a pass to Ryan Craig, who came on as the extra attacker. Craig sent an attempt on net that Sedlak tapped back to Hannikainen for the goal – the first of the postseason for the Monsters winger.
The same line struck again just 12 seconds later to make it 2-0 in favor of Lake Erie. Off the ensuing center-ice faceoff, Hannikainen sent a pass ahead to Sedlak, who skated in on a two-on-one rush and snapped a low shot that beat Peter Budaj for his sixth goal of the playoffs.
The Monsters capitalized on a power play 4:40 into the second period and took a 3-0 lead as T.J. Tynan netted his first goal of the postseason off a cross-crease pass from Craig.
Just as they did in Game 1, Ontario chipped away in the third period, first getting one back at the 5:31 mark as Paul Bissonnette crashed the net and knocked home his first career playoff goal.
The Reign pulled to within 3-2 with 7:12 remaining as Kevin Gravel wristed a shot from above the faceoff circles that beat Forsberg up high. It was Gravel’s first goal in 29 games over the last two postseasons.
Ontario pulled Budaj (18 saves) for an extra attacker with 1:20 remaining but Forsberg and the Monsters withstood a late attack — including a chance for Michael Mersch all alone in front with 18 seconds remaining — and held on for the win.
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 3, ONTARIO 2
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 23, 2016