How quickly things change.
Just several weeks ago, the Worcester Sharks had lost seven games in a row (all in regulation) and eight of nine overall. Now, the Sharks have won six games in a row after sweeping their second consecutive three-in-three weekend by defeating their Atlantic Division rival the Manchester Monarchs (AHL affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings) 5-1 at the DCU Center Sunday afternoon.
Travis Oleksuk had a goal and two assists; Daniil Tarasov had two goals; rookie Brock Higgs had his second consecutive two point game with a goal and an assist; rookie defenseman Konrad Abeltshauser had two assists; and rookie forward Mike Pereira scored his first professional goal. In addition, goaltender Harri Sateri made 26 saves for his 16th win of the season.
In an uneventful first period that didn't have the first shot on goal until 8:48 had passed, the Monarchs took a 1-0 lead at 16:26 when forward Andrew Crescenzi ripped the puck past Sateri from a parallel angle on the right side for his second goal of the season.
Following Crescenzi's goal, the Sharks offense exploded for four goals inside the opening 12:30 of the second period to take a commanding 4-1 lead. Oleksuk tied the game at 3:17 when he corralled a cross zone pass from linemate Dan DaSilva and ripped a slap shot from on top of the left face-off circle past Monarchs goaltender Jean-Francois Berube for a power play goal, his 13th goal of the season. Sharks rookie defenseman Kyle Bigos was credited with the secondary assist.
The Sharks took a 2-1 lead 127-seconds later when Pereira skated into the Monarchs zone along the right side, cut towards the net from deep in the right face-off circle, went backhand-to-forehand on top of the crease and lifted the puck past a sprawled out Berube for his first professional goal in just his second professional game. Sharks forward Chad Rau and Abeltshauser were credited with the assists on the goal, which held up as the game winner.
Tarasov pushed the lead to 3-1 at 7:10 with his 16th goal of the season when he buried home the puck from on top of the crease after a nifty pass from Oleksuk. Sharks forward Freddie Hamilton was credited with the secondary assist.
Higgs made it 4-1 at 12:12 when he found a loose puck on top of the left slot and fired a rocket of a slap shot past Berube for his third goal in as many games and fifth point of his professional career. Sharks rookie forward Rylan Schwartz and Abeltshauser were credited with the assists on the goal, which chased Berube out of the game in favor of backup goaltender Mathias Niederberger.
In a fast moving third period, Sateri made 10 saves and Tarasov buried home a rebound from on top of the crease for a power play goal, his second goal of the game and 17th of the season, to seal a 5-1 Sharks win. Higgs and Oleksuk were credited with the assists.
NOTES... Final shots on goal were 27-21 in favor of the Monarchs... The Sharks went 2-for-4 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill... Sateri is now 16-20-1 with a 2.94 goals-against-average and .891 save percentage... Tarasov had a game high six shots on goal... Schwartz (1-3-4) and DaSilva extended their point streaks to four games while Abeltshauser (1-4-5), Higgs (3-2-5) and Oleksuk (1-4-5) extended their point streaks to three games (via SharksAHL.com)... Sharks enforcer Jimmy Bonneau dropped the gloves against Monarchs forward Andy Andreoff at 1:55 of the first period in what was Bonneau's 120th career AHL fight... The Sharks wore a specialty jersey for Shine Initiative, whose mission is to raise awareness about mental illness in children and young adults as a mainstream issue... This was the 10th of 12 meetings between the Sharks and Monarchs this season... The Sharks are 4-6-0-0 against the Monarchs, 15-12-0-1 at the DCU Center and 30-27-3-1 with 64 points overall... The Sharks kick off their third consecutive three-in-three weekend when they host the Springfield Falcons on Friday night (March 21) at 7:30 pm/et.
1. Daniil Tarasov - Sharks (2-0-2)
2. Brock Higgs - Sharks (1-1-2)
3. Harri Sateri - Sharks (26 saves, win)
McCarthy / Kearns / DaSilva
Tarasov / Oleksuk / Hamilton (A)
Schwartz / Viedensky / Higgs
Bonneau (A) / Rau / Pereira
Davison (C) / DeMelo
Abeltshauser / Doherty
Comrie / Bigos