The Manchester Monarchs scored twice in the third period, but it wasn't enough in a 4-2 loss to the Hershey Bears in the first game of the Eastern Conference Final on Wednesday.
Gabe Gauthier got his fourth goal of the playoffs and Andrei Loktionov got his first, but Manchester couldn't overcome the 3-0 lead Hershey built over the first two periods, the first of which came 16 seconds into the game.
"(Hershey’s first goal) put us behind the eight ball," Manchester coach Mark Morris said. "Having a goal scored against us 16 seconds in and 8,000 people rocking your world, it rattled us. We need to be more on with our effort and compete level.
"We did a lot of standing around in the beginning. Playing in front of that many fans was a bit overwhelming for many of our players. As the nerves calmed, our play picked up. We’ll try to build on our momentum that we built in the second half of the game and be more disciplined in Saturday’s game."
Sean Collins scored 16 seconds into the game off a one-timer from outside the left face-off circle. Andrew Gordon added another goal at 10:02 of the first and Steve Pinizzotto added what proved to be the game-winner at 7:25 of the second period.
Loktionov made it 3-1, getting the Monarchs on the board at 12:32 of the third period. Jacob Muzzin and Kyle Clifford, who record his first professional point, got assists on the play.
Karl Alzner put the Bears up 4-1 less than two minutes later, and Gauthier pulled the Monarchs back within two at 16:10, tipping in a shot by Oscar Moller.
Jonathan Bernier made 24 saves, giving up four goals for just the second time in 11 playoff games this season.
The Monarchs and Bears will return to the ice for Game 2 at 7 p.m. on Friday. Game 3 is Monday at the Verizon Wireless Arena.