The Connecticut Whale struck three times in a span of just 1:31 in the second period and then rode solid goaltending by Chad Johnson to win their fifth straight game 4-1 at the Verizon Wireless Center in Manchester over the Monarchs Saturday night.
In the second period, newcomer Casey Wellman and Jonathan Audy- Marchessault set each other up for goals just nine seconds apart at 12:01 and 12:10 respectively and Kris Newbury scored on the power play 1:22 later to break the game open for the visiting Whale. The two goals by Wellman and Audy-Marchessault were just one second off the team record that came against the former Albany River Rats on January 5, 2002. Both goals in the record eight seconds came off the stick of then Hartford Wolf Pack centerman Benoit Dusablon.
“We had a good start again tonight, we did a lot of things right,” Whale head coach Ken Gernander told Brian Ring afterwards. “I thought it was a solid effort throughout, five-on-five, special teams, goaltending. I thought there were a lot of good things.”
As they did against the Springfield Falcons the night before, the Whale came out from the opening faceoff putting lots of shots on net and keeping Martin Jones (13-13-1, 36 saves) plenty busy. By the end of the period the Whale had put 17 pucks on net to eight for the Monarchs. Neither goaltender bent. Johnson (15-9-5, 26 saves) had the more difficult chances to deal with stopping Nick Deslauriers breakaway after the Monarch defenseman picked Brendan Bells pocket just outside the Whale defensive zone at 4:29. Later, with 3:42 left in the first frame, Johnson again astounded making huge back-to-back stops on Linden Vey and Brandon Kozun after some sloppy handling of the puck led to the chances in front of the Whale net.
Johnson again shone brightly in the second frame when just two minutes into the period he denied the game’s Third Star, Robert Czarnik back-to-back shots from in tight.
At 3:09 mats Zuccarello went to the penalty box for an Interference call and as the cliché goes; “Your goaltender needs to be your best penalty killer,” well Johnson was just that. Forty seconds into the penalty kill, Thomas Hickey took a pass from the right side and Johnson was magnificent in getting a strong push from the right to get to the left and got his legs up to reject the pinching defenseman’s golden opportunity.
The Whale got their first of two at 12:01 when Ray Kaunisto lost a foot race to the puck in the right corner of the Whale offensive zone that was fired in by Tim Erixon. Audy-Marchessault took the puck around the back of the net and found Wellman all alone just inside the left circle and put it right on his tape. Wellman put a one-timer on net that beat Jones to the short side.
Nine seconds later, Wellman returned the favor to his linemate. Wellman won the center faceoff to Andre Deveaux and tracked down the puck in the right circle and put a perfect cross ice pass through some traffic right on the stick of the wide-open Audy-Marchessault in almost the identical spot as Wellman’s goal and his slap shot blasted past Jones for his team leading 43rd point (18g, 25a) of the season.
32 seconds later, with the Wellman line continuing to apply pressure Justin Azevedo took a holding call and put the red-hot Whale on their first power play.
On the ensuing man-advantage, Mats Zuccarello found Wojtek Wolski charging up the middle of the ice. Zuccarello’s pass hit the stick of defenseman Patrick Mullen and went straight to Wolski. Charging the net, Wolski drew the other defender to him and backhanded a pass to Newbury who banked it into the net off of Jones’ pads and reclaimed his share of the Whale team lead in goals tying Audy-Marchessault with 18.
In the third period, Czarnik broke Johnson’s shot at his second shutout of the season after Slava Voyorov made a pass from just inside his left side defensive zone and hit the streaking centerman. Czarnik broke up the middle and used Brendan Bell as a screen and fired a shot that Johnson reacted late to as he likely didn’t even see it leave Czarnik’s stick and was beaten low to the blocker side. at 1:45.
The goal invigorated the 9,852 in attendance but the Whale were having nothing to do with that and quickly slammed the door shut on any hope that Manchester had of making a game of it.
31 seconds after Czarnik’s goal, Kelsey Tessier came from the right side to the left side behind the offensive goal line and fed the puck out to the point to Erixon. Former Ranger Jan Erixon’s son the fired a hard shot form the left point that went in front to the right where Andreas Thuresson out-battled Jordan Hill in front of Jones and redirected it into the net for what would prove to break the Monarch’s spirit and put this one in the win column for the New York Rangers’ AHL affiliates.
Richard Clune earned himself a spot in the sin bin at 6:08 for Unsportsmanlike Conduct and just 24 seconds after getting his game freedom laid a serious shoulder-to-shoulder hit that drove Blake Parlett hard into the boards. It took a bit for Parlett to get back on his feet, but he stayed in the game. His defensive partner, Jeff Woywitka, took exception to the hit and charged after Clune and challenged him to a fight. CLune, who’s had a load of fighting experience with the Whale, mostly with ex-Whale Devin DiDiomete, pummeled the Whale defenseman, but the point had been made.
Clune received five minutes for the fight, and a misconduct. Woywitka received two for roughing leaving the Whale, after two minutes of four-on-four with a three minute power play. The Whale were unable to do anything with it of any consequence, but they had already done all the damage they would need to do and held on for the win.
The Whale have won both meetings with the Monarchs this season.
Meanwhile, the win was the Whale’s fifth straight matching their season longest from October 21st, which ironically started with the Monarchs and ended with their October 29th win at Worcester against the Sharks.
Ian Clark takes you into the Monarchs dressing room at the UnionLeader.com.
(Standings provided by TheAHL.com)
* The game was the Monarchs’ Annual Pink In The Rink” night and was a sellout at 9,852. The ice was dyed pink and the Monarchs wore special pink sweaters that were auctioned off for the fight against breast cancer.
* Chad Johnson’s win streak has seen him stop 141 of 148 shots over the last five games for a SV% of .953 and a GAA of 1.40
* Wolski played in his fifth of six games with the Whale and has 3g, 1a (4pts) in the run.
* Woywitka has 3a in five games with the Whale. Like Wolski, he plays the last game of this conditioning stint with the Whale Sunday.
* Wellman has 1g, 3a (4pts) in four games with the Whale since coming over in the trade for Eric Christensen.
* Two Monarchs were called up to Los Angeles prior to the game, Jordan Nolan and Dwight King, and their best player, who ironically was traded for the Whale’s Sean Avery who did not play either, Marc-Andre Cliché was out with an injury.
Audy-Marchessault – Wellman – Deveaux
Wolski – Newbury – Zuccarello
Bourque – Tessier – Thuresson
Grant – Owens – Tanski
Woywitka – Parlett
Erixon – Nightingale
Bell – Klassen
(Assistant Captains Bold and Italicized)
Francois Bouchard – Broken Wrist – Indefinite
Wade Redden – Lower Body – Day-to-Day
Pavel Valentenko – Upper Body – Day-to-Day
Sean Avery – Healthy Scratch
Chris McKelvie – Healthy Scratch
1. CT – J. Audy-Marchessault
2. CT – C. Wellman
3. MCH – R. Czarnik
ON ICE OFFICIALS:
Marcus Vinnerborg (45)
Joe Ross (92)
Brian MacDonald (72)
The biggest test for the Whale comes Sunday afternoon in Bridgeport. Connecticut faces their intra-state rivals, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers who they also happen to be battling for first place in the division. Bridgeport slammed the Springfield Falcons 8-1 at the Webster Bank Arena. This one is going to be great. You won’t want to miss it. Game time is 3pm. Bob Crawford is on with the pre-game at 2:50pm. You can hear it on WCCC.com.
To watch the game live, you can purchased it for $6.99 at AHL-live.
For Ticket information for all home games, call (860) 548-2000.
Connecticut Whale 4 at Manchester Monarchs 1 – Status: Final
Saturday, February 11, 2012 – Verizon Wireless Arena
Connecticut 0 3 1 – 4
Manchester 0 0 1 – 1
1st Period– No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties
2nd Period-1, Connecticut, Wellman 15 (Audy-Marchessault, Erixon), 12:01. 2, Connecticut, Audy-Marchessault 18 (Wellman, Deveaux), 12:10. 3, Connecticut, Newbury 18 (Wolski, Zuccarello), 13:32 (PP). Penalties-Zuccarello Ct (interference), 3:09; Woywitka Ct (hooking), 9:25; Azevedo Mch (holding), 12:42.
3rd Period-4, Manchester, Czarnik 6 (Hickey, Deslauriers), 1:45. 5, Connecticut, Thuresson 10 (Erixon, Tessier), 2:16. Penalties-Clune Mch (unsportsmanlike conduct), 6:08; Woywitka Ct (roughing), 8:32; Clune Mch (fighting, misconduct – unsportsmanlike conduct), 8:32; Bell Ct (tripping), 16:08; Deveaux Ct (holding), 19:35.
Shots on Goal-Connecticut 17-10-13-40. Manchester 8-12-7-27.
Power Play Opportunities-Connecticut 1 / 3; Manchester 0 / 4.
Goalies-Connecticut, Johnson 15-9-5 (27 shots-26 saves). Manchester, Jones 13-13-1 (40 shots-36 saves).
Referees-Marcus Vinnerborg (45).
Linesmen-Joe Ross (92), Brian MacDonald (72).