(Photo: Heather Stebbins, The Pink Puck)
The teams in the Atlantic are no strangers to playing the other teams in the division frequently. However, the Monarchs and Sharks have to be sick of each other with how often they’ve played over the past week. The teams have faced off for three of their last four games (January 13th, 16th, and 18th). The Monarchs dropped the first two of the three games to the Sharks. Each of the first six games of the season between the two teams have gone to the Monarchs.
From the start of the game, it was clear the teams had been seeing a lot of each other lately by the physicality. Early in the game, Monarchs veteran Josh Gratton hit Sharks defenseman Taylor Fedun behind the Sharks goal. Although Fedun got up and returned to play for his next shift, he missed the second and third periods.
But, the Sharks took the chance to capitalize on the power play that resulted from the play. With nine seconds left, Sharks defenseman Matt Taormina fired a shot from the blue line that beat Monarchs rookie goaltender Patrik Bartosak. He was playing his second straight game with JF Berube in LA covering for the injured Martin Jones. Unfortunately for the Monarchs and Bartosak, the Sharks were not done. With the Monarchs seemingly unable to stay out of the penalty box, the Sharks took advantage of their third power play as well. Rookie Chris Tierney got right in front of the net and found the puck on his stick. He lifted it over Bartosak’s shoulder to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead early in the first.
Towards the end of the first period, the Monarchs started to generate some chances and got their first power play of the game, but were unable to find their way against JP Anderson. The game was Anderson’s first since January 3rd.
When the teams came out for the middle frame, the Sharks did not waste time increasing their lead. Just over a minute in, defenseman Taylor Doherty took an incredibly hard shot from the point and Bartosak did not seem to have a chance to stop it. To the Monarchs credit, they did not give up despite being down 3-0.
In a story of special teams, it was a shorthanded goal that got the Monarchs their first goal of the game. Andrew Crescenzi was able break away behind the Sharks defense and put one past Anderson unassisted. It seemed like there was a possible momentum switch in favor of the Monarchs.
However, the Sharks were not done yet. Tierney fired a shot from the top of the face-off circle that went over Bartosak’s shoulder and slid in just under the crossbar in a highlight reel style goal.
Then, before the second period was over, the Monarchs cut the Sharks lead down to 4-2. Rookie Ryan Horvat notched his first professional goal as the puck ended up on his stick with his back slightly to Anderson.
The teams came out for the final period and the Monarchs showed that they were down but did not want to be counted out just yet. Konrad Abeltshauser appeared to score for the Sharks but the goal was waved off. Abeltshauser took the shot from 10 feet behind the blue line and did not appear to have scoring in mind but the puck ended up in the back of the net. The refs waved it off though due to an offsides call.
That was not the only review, though. Later in the third period, the Monarchs appeared to have a goal of theirs waved off. Auger seemed to stuff the puck past Anderson through a lot of traffic but the official behind the net waved it off. After review, they ended up awarding the Monarchs with the goal.
Despite only have a one goal lead, the Sharks seemed to be falling back on their heels for the remainder of the period. But it did not end up hurting them. Late in the game, Manchester pulled Bartosak for the extra attacker but it was not enough. When the horn sounded, the Sharks found that they had now won all three of their games against the Monarchs over the past week.
Manchester has had to contend with both injuries and call-ups lately. With injuries in LA, both Nick Shore and JF Berube are with the Kings. They are also currently without standout forward Brian O’Neill, who said he should be back in another week. Given that, they have done a good job of having other players step up. Paul Bissonnette, a name every hockey fan seems to know, has had assists in three straight games.
With the win over the Monarchs, the Sharks extended their winning streak to seven straight. It marks the longest winning streak in franchise history. The two teams will not meet again until February 18th.