MANCHESTER, N.H. – The Manchester Monarchs went into overtime to push the Portland Pirates to the brink of elimination Monday night.

Bud Holloway scored two minutes into sudden death as the Monarchs took a 3-0 lead in the AHL playoff series with a 2-1 win before a crowd of 2,130 at the Verizon Wireless Arena.

Holloway turned a feed from Dwight King into his third winning goal of the best-of-seven series.

“It just popped out to me,” Holloway said. “I really just was in the right spot, and I just put it in.”

“They made a good play on the last play, and we made a bad play, and it ends up in our net,” Portland Coach Kevin Dineen said.

Game 4 of the Atlantic Division semifinal series is tonight in Manchester. A Pirates’ loss ends their season.

Monday night’s game was not a reprise of Games 1 and 2 in which the Pirates weren’t able to generate much offense. Portland, which held a 38-25 edge in shots, had plenty of scoring opportunities. It just couldn’t get the puck past goalie Jonathan Bernier, the former Lewiston Maineiac who was named the AHL goalie of the year.

“He had a good night.” Dineen said. “He made some quality saves, like he has all series. Even when we weren’t getting many chances, he made some quality saves. It takes a lot to get the puck by him.”

The Monarchs opened the scoring 35 seconds into the game when Marc-Andre Cliche, another former Maineiac, put in the first shot of the game for his first AHL playoff goal. After circling behind the net, Corey Elkins, who already had a goal and assist in the playoffs, sent a centering pass out front for Cliche to touch in.

During the evenly played first period, the best scoring opportunities for the Pirates, who managed to score just one goal in each of the first two games, came off the stick of left wing Philip Gogulla, back in the lineup after sitting out Game 2 with an undisclosed injury.

The Pirates turned it up a notch in the second period, and it paid off.

Less than eight minutes into the period, defenseman Mike Weber got his stick on a long rebound and put in a shot from the top of the left circle to tie the game. The goal came after Bernier stopped rookie left wing Luke Adam, playing in his second AHL game, from jamming the puck in from out front.

Bernier, who made a total of 44 saves in Games 1 and 2, made 19 of his 37 saves during the second period Monday night. At one point, he played more than a minute with a defenseman’s stick after losing his goalie stick. Ten of his saves during the second period came during two Portland power plays/

“He’s an unbelievable goalie,” Holloway said. “He’s played well all playoffs. He’s given us a chance every game.”

The Pirates face elimination tonight, but Dineen doesn’t sound like he’s given up.

“We found the formula tonight that gave us some real quality opportunities,” he said. “But at the end of the day, you’ve got to win four games, and we’ve got to start with our first (win). We don’t have to wait long. We’ll get right back at it (tonight), so that’s the game plan, to get right back at it.”

 

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: [email protected]