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The Monsters started the game setting a season record by scoring just 55 seconds into the game with Chris Durno’s 14th goal of the season. Skating into the zone, forward T.J. Galiardi crossed paths with Durno, leaving the puck for the power forward at the top of the right circle. Striding toward the net, Durno put a shot on net that knuckled off of his stick and beat Desjardins low blocker side.
It would take another 12-plus minutes, but the Bulldogs would tie the score at one, when Steve Gainey notched his sixth goal of the season at the 12:31 mark of the first. With the puck at the point, defenseman Alex Henry threw a shot on net that was headed wide. Stopping the puck with his skate, Gainey kicked it to his stick and deposited it past a stretched-out Tyler Weiman to tie the game. Yanick Lehoux picked up the second assist on the goal.
Heading into regulation’s middle framed knotted at one, Lehoux would put the Bulldogs up 2-1 with his 17th of the season at the 11:01 mark of the second. Gaining speed in the neutral zone, Lehoux took a pass from Brock Trotter at the blue line. Coming in with the puck on his stick, Lehoux split the Monsters defense, went in one-on-one with Weiman and flipped the puck over the goalie’s glove into the top corner of the net. Chad Anderson picked up the second assist on the goal.
Not content with a one-goal lead, the Bulldogs added an insurance marker just a minute later, when Trotter registered his 12th of the season. Streaking down the slot, Trotter took a pass from Gainey. Dipping his shoulder, the Bulldogs winger faked a shot and deked forehand, slamming the puck low past the glove of Weiman to put the Bulldogs up 3-1.
Despite being down by two, the Monsters refused to give up. The team put 14 shots on goal in the final 20 minutes and had a goal disallowed with 29 ticks remaining. The valiant effort wasn’t enough, and the team had its five-game home-winning streak snapped.
“I thought we deserved better than that because we played well,” said head coach Joe Sacco. “We played hard but we just could not find a way to get one by their goalie tonight.”
Lake Erie will continue its push for a berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs next weekend with three games in as many days at The Q. The Rochester Americans will be in town on Friday and Saturday, and the team wraps up the weekend on Sunday against the Hershey Bears.
“Time is ticking in terms of getting in the playoffs, but we are going to battle all the way until the end,” said captain Chris Durno. “This was a big one tonight and it hurts, but we will have to regroup and come back Friday with a big effort.”
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