Needing two critical points to keep their chances alive of qualifying for the AHL Calder Cup Playoffs, the Worcester Sharks were defeated 5-2 by their Atlantic Division rival the Manchester Monarchs (AHL affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings) Sunday afternoon at the DCU Center.
Goaltender Harri Sateri made 36 saves on 39 shots while second year forwards Freddie Hamilton and Travis Oleksuk scored for the Sharks, who are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention as they're eight points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with five home games left in the season.
"It wasn't a good weekend," said Sharks head coach Roy Sommer in a post game interview with Rich Garven of Telegram.com. "Not the weekend we wanted. The thing is we were in every game and we found a way to lose. I guess that's why we are where we are. We found a way to (screw) it up."
The Monarchs took a 1-0 lead at 6:16 of the first period when defenseman Brayden McNabb beat Sateri through the pads with a slap shot from the center point for his eighth goal of the season.
After being out-shot 15-9 in the first period, the Sharks responded in the second period by out-shooting the Monarchs 17-11 and scored two times in a 5:25 span to take a 2-1 lead near the midway point of the period. Oleksuk tied the game at 3:59 with a backhanded shot from on top of the crease for his 18th goal of the season. Hamilton and Sharks rookie forward Eriah Hayes were credited with the assists on the goal.
Hamilton put the Sharks ahead 2-1 at 8:34 when he buried home a rebound from deep inside the right face-off circle for his team leading 21st goal of the season. Hayes and Sharks defenseman Adam Comrie were credited with the assists.
Monarchs defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk tied the game at 12:06 when he beat Sateri with a quick shot from deep inside the left face-off circle for a shorthanded goal, his eighth goal of the season.
In the third period, the Monarchs outshot the Sharks 15-6 and went ahead 3-2 at 17:41 when forward Jordan Weal finished off a two-on-one rush rush by beating Sateri with a quick snap shot from inside the right slot for his 22nd goal of the season. The goal, which held up as the game winner, was created as a result of Sharks defenseman Matt Tennyson pinching in on a play inside the Monarchs zone. Tennyson and 19-year old rookie defensive partner Mirco Mueller both finished minus-three on the afternoon.
"Obviously we didn't know who we were playing against when they went out there," said Sommer. "That's their No.1 line. We pinch and give up a two-on-one with two minutes left in a 2-2 game. There's no sense in it."
With 85-seconds left in the period, the Sharks pulled Sateri for the extra attacker and went on their fifth power play of the game as Bodnarchuk was assessed a tripping penalty. However, McNabb fired the puck into the empty net from his own center slot for his second goal of the game after a shot from the right point by Sharks rookie defenseman Dylan DeMelo was blocked in front. With Sateri still off for the extra attacker, Comrie pulled down Monarchs forward Sean Backman with 12-seconds left in the game and Backman was awarded an automatic goal as he had a breakaway towards an empty net.
"I think there are guys in here who feel like they need to do more than they're responsible for doing," said Sharks captain Rob Davison on the recent play of the Sharks young defense corps as a whole in a post game interview with Garven. "Again, I think that comes with experience and they're not going to get that unless they're playing. They're going to get their experience, they're going to get their lessons, but sometimes it's a tough lesson to learn."
NOTES... Final shots on goal were 41-32 in favor of the Monarchs... The Sharks went 0-for-5 on the power play and 5-for-5 on the penalty kill... Sateri fell to 17-23-2 with a 2.92 goals-against-average and .894 save percentage... Tennyson had a game high six shots on goal but is a team worse minus-26 in 51 games this season... Mueller is minus-four through his first four professional games... The Sharks allowed a franchise high three shorthanded goals and two empty net goals... This was the 12th and final meeting between the Sharks and Monarchs this season... The Sharks went 4-8-0-0 against the Monarchs, are 17-14-1-1 at the DCU Center and 34-31-4-2 with 74 points overall... The Sharks are back in action April 9 as they host the Hartford Wolf Pack at 7pm/et... Attendance was 3.708 fans and 74 dogs as part of the third annual Pucks and Paws night at the DCU Center.
1. Jordan Weal - Monarchs (1-0-1, GWG)
2. Patrik Bartosak - Monarchs (30 saves, Win)
3. Freddie Hamilton - Sharks (1-1-2)
Carpenter / Kearns / DaSilva
Hamilton / Oleksuk / Hayes
Schwartz / Rau / Schmidt
Reid / Higgs / Pelech
Tennyson / Mueller
Davison (C) / DeMelo
Abeltshauser / Comrie