Blogger Note: Special to Bob Howard and the Power Play Post Show.
Coming into Game 4, given the state of affairs that the Manchester Monarchs were in having lost Game 3 without the AHL MVP and losing their workhorse goaltender to injury, doubt started to creep in. Were the AHL’s regular season champions in trouble? Was Utica back in the series?
The answer was a resounding no.
Manchester takes Game 4 with an impressive 6-3 win and lead the best of seven series three games to one and can win the Calder Cup Saturday.
Lineup notes…. Brian O’Neill was back from his injury from Game 1 that forced him out of Game 2. Steve Mastalerz backed up Partik Bartosak with J-F Berube still out from the injury to him in Game 3.
A fracas between the two teams as the blood was boiling early. Out of it, Brian O’Neill hit the post behind Jacob Markstrom but the officials reviewed it and confirmed no goal.
Sean Backman pounced on a Utica defensive zone cross-up and scores on a turnover to make it 1-0 Utica at 12:45.
:32 later, Nic Dowd did the same thing and doubled the lead for Manchester. Utica head coach Travis Green called his time out after that.
Utica cycled a puck down low and found Frank Corrado at the point for a one time shot that went in and the Comets were on the board at 14:09.
A torrent pace. Three goals in 1:24.
Sven Baertschi scored on a power play with 1:06 left to bring the 3,835 fans that packed the Utica Memorial Auditorium to their feet as the home team just tied the game.
Manchester broke the game open with a three goal second period, buoyed by two power play goals.
Colin Miller scored a power play goal in the second period to edge the visitors back in front.
A Kent Huskins tripping call found the Manchester Monarchs on the power play again. With sustained zone time, Nick Shore jammed in a rebound of a puck in a pile and the Eastern Conference Champions had a two goal lead.
Nic Dowd sprung out of the neutral zone off of a turnover and fired a shot over Markstrom’s glove to make it a three gaol lead for Manchester with 10.3 seconds to play in the second.
Adrian Kempe made it 6-2 Manchester in the third period on a nice feed by Nick Shore and that ended Markstrom’s night. Enter Joacim Eriksson.
Will Acton scored his first of the playoffs on a rebound of a Peter Andersson shot from the point to cut the Monarchs lead to 6-3.
Now Utica must do the unthinkable. Win three straight against a team that hasn’t lost three straight in months.
Game 5 is Saturday night in Utica.