The Manchester Monarchs put in a little extra work on the power play before Game 3 of the Atlantic Division Finals against the Worcester Sharks.
It certainly showed. Manchester scored three power play goals, tying a team playoff record, and went on to beat Worcester 5-0 on Friday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena. The Monarchs now lead the best-of-seven series 2-1, with Game 4 scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday.
Trevor Lewis had two of the three power play goals for Manchester, and Gabe Gauthier netted the only one the Monarchs would need just 2:24 into the game. Jonathan Bernier picked up his first career postseason shutout by stopping all 26 shots he faced, including 11 in the final period.
“We spent probably a half hour on (the power play) the other day, just trying to get our guys to be a little grittier and it seems to be paying off,” Manchester coach Mark Morris said. “We have worked on it a little bit. We’ve been anemic. We started moving the puck around.”
The Monarchs had plenty of chances with a man-advantage, going 3-of-8 on the power play, while Worcester had no power play opportunities.
Steven Zalewski was called for tripping Manchester’s Oscar Moller a minute into the game, and Gauthier got the Monarchs on the board with 36 seconds left on the power play. Bud Holloway brought the puck into the Worcester zone to the right of goalie Alex Stalock and sent a pass to Gauthier at the front of the net.
Manchester controlled play for most of the first period, outshooting Worcester 20-7. The Sharks went more than eight minutes without a shot on goal, while the Monarchs peppered Stalock.
“That’s a good way to start off the opening period, especially at home,” Justin Azevedo said. “Obviously we were doing something right. There was good effort there and we carried it into the second and on to the third.”
Despite all their shots, the Monarchs led just 1-0 after one. But Worcester – on another tripping call by Andrew Desjardins just six seconds into the period – took another penalty, and Lewis scored with 1:57 gone in the second period to make it 2-0.
Worcester’s Brandon Mashinter was called for interference 14 seconds later, and Lewis got his second power play goal of the night at 2:47, picking up a rebound and beating Stalock to put Manchester up 3-0.
“You can’t let up, it doesn’t matter how many goals you’re up,” Azevedo said. “Especially in the playoffs; anything can happen and you’ve always got to be on your toes.”
David Meckler made it 4-0 with 6:36 gone in the third period, taking a pass from Corey Elkins and lifting over Stalock and into the top of the net. Elkins then added a goal of his own a little more than five minutes later, when he redirected a shot by Drew Bagnall into the net.
"We had to keep our foot on the pedal," Morris said. "We kept a real good focus and you could feel it on the bench. Everybody got a lot ice and we just kept the game simple."
Things got interesting in the final six minutes, when Worcester’s Frazer McLaren was whistled for interfering with Bernier. After the whistle, McLaren speared Bernier and was assessed a major and game-misconduct.
The teams will go back at it for Game 4 at 7 p.m. Saturday night.