(manchestermonarchs.com) — The Manchester Monarchs gave up an early goal but fought back to make it a one-goal game heading into the third period before falling to the Norfolk Admirals, 5-2, in Game 3 of the best-of-five 2012 Calder Cup Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Wednesday night.
The Admirals have a 2-1 series lead.
“That was probably one of the least productive games we have had in quite a while,” said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. “I cannot really put my finger on it but we woke up in the second period and came back and played quite well. The chances were there even though we did not play our best hockey. I think our guys have to believe that we beat them, we beat them down there and we didn’t play as nearly as well as we can. I think they can play better too but not really happy with the outcome. We had enough chances that we probably should have won this game.”
Norfolk built the Admirals’ lead to 3-1 at 4:31 of the second period with center Philip-Michael Devos’ first goal of the post-season. Following a battle for the puck in the right corner of the Monarchs zone, center Trevor Smith chipped the puck to Devos in the right face-off circle who found defenseman Mike Kostka at the center point. Kostka sent a slap shot toward net that produced a rebound in front of Monarchs goaltender Martin Jones. Devos poked in the rebound between the legs of Jones for his first goal of the playoffs.
The Admirals grabbed an early first period lead when right wing Brandon Segal scored 35 seconds into the game. Center Alex Killorn carried the puck down the right wing boards in the Monarchs zone before stopping at the right wing half wall. Defenseman Evan Oberg jumped into the play and took a feed from Killorn at the top of the right wing face-off circle before stick handling through the Monarchs defense. Oberg lost the puck in the slot but Segal was there to wrist a shot into the net for his first goal of the playoffs.
Left wing Pierre-Cedric Labrie expanded Norfolk’s lead to 2-0 at 7:40 of the first period. Left wing Cory Conacher won a puck battle behind the Monarchs net and cycled to center Trevor Smith in the left corner. Smith found Labrie in the left face-off circle and the left wing fired a one-timer into the top right corner for his first tally of the playoffs.
Manchester responded at the 11:06 mark of the opening frame with a goal from center Robbie Czarnik. Defenseman Patrick Mullen kept the puck at the right point in the Admirals zone and chipped it down the right wing boards. Right wing Linden Vey swung his stick at a bouncing puck which found Czarnik at the top of the right wing face-off circle. Czarnik corralled the puck and skated between the hash marks before flipping a backhander passed the blocker of Norfolk’s goaltender Dustin Tokarski for his second tally of the post-season.
The Monarchs rallied to cut Norfolk’s lead to 3-2 at 12:51 of the second period. Defenseman David Kolomatis fought off a Norfolk skater at the right point of the Admirals zone to keep the puck in the attacking zone. Vey gathered the puck along the right wing boards and weaved his way across the crease before leaving a drop pass for right wing Stefan Legein at the top of the left wing face-off circle. Legein fired a slap shot between the hash marks beating Tokarski high on the glove side for his second goal of the playoffs.
Left wing Alexandre Picard added an insurance goal on the power play at 14:45 of the third period for Norfolk. A shot from Kostka in the left face-off circle resulted in a rebound in front of the Monarchs cage. With everyone swiping at the puck in front of the net, Smith took a swing at it followed by Conacher. The puck trickled over to the top left corner of the crease where Picard chipped it into the back of the net for his fourth goal of the playoffs.
Norfolk scored an empty net goal to finish off the Monarchs at 18:32 of the final stanza. Segal skated the puck out of the Admirals zone to Killorn who then chipped it over a sliding Monarchs player and over to Segal. The right wing skated down the right wing and tossed the puck into the empty net. Segal’s second goal of the game and post-season was also assisted by Picard.
Jones (1-1) took his first loss of the post-season making 28 saves on 32 shots. Tokarski (1-0) earned his first victory of the season stopping 25-of-27 shots.
Manchester went 0-for-6 on the power play. Norfolk was 1-for-8 with the man advantage.
Notables: The Monarchs are 8-6 in Game 3’s all-time including a 5-3 record at home … The Monarchs are 0-for-20 on the power play in the first three games of the series … Right wing Linden Vey recorded his second consecutive multiple point effort with two assists…Vey has two goals and three assists in his last two games.
The Monarchs host the Admirals in Game 4 of the 2012 Calder Cup Eastern Conference Quarterfinals best-of-five series Friday at 7 ET (AHL Live).