Monsters Battle Back to Win in Shootout

Down by two with less than six minutes left to play, the resilience of the Lake Erie Monsters prevailed Wednesday night, as the team took a 5-4 shootout win against the Abbotsford Heat at Quicken Loans Arena. With the win, the Monsters move to 34-36-1-7 while the Heat drop to 37-29-5-7.

Brian Fahey started the scoring for the Monsters, netting his 10th of the season just five minutes into the game on the power play. Taking a pass on the blue line, Fahey ripped a one-timer past Abbotsford goalie David Shantz’s glove through traffic to put the Monsters up one. T.J. Hensick and Brian Willsie recorded assists on the goal.

Seven minutes later, Abbotsford evened the score on Cam Cunning’s 18th tally of the year. When two Monsters defenders closed in on David Van der Gulik, who was on a partial breakaway, the right wing dropped the puck to Cunning. Coming down the slot unopposed, Cunning picked up the loose change and flipped a wrist shot past the blocker of Monsters goalie John Grahame to knot the game at one at the 12:48 mark of the first. Garth Murray picked up the second assist on the score.

Heading into the second tied at one, the score remained even for almost the entire period, until Darren Haydar put the Monsters up with 36 seconds left in the middle frame. When Willsie’s shot snuck through Shantz’s fivehole, it trickled behind the Abbotsford goalie and into the crease. Just to Shantz’s right, Haydar swatted the rebound into the open net, giving the Monsters a one-goal lead heading into the third. Hensick picked up the second assist on the goal.

With a pair of helpers, Hensick notched his 22nd multi-point game of the season while the two assists gave Willsie his 17th game with multiple points. Hensick also pushed his point streak to five, with the Michigan native picking up seven points (1G, 6A) in that span. For Willsie, the Monsters captain has put up points in five straight, notching eight points (3G, 5A) in those games. Hensick has also recorded points in 10 of his past 12 games, notching 16 points in that time (2G, 14A), and Willsie has recorded at least a point in nine of his past 11 contests, putting up 13 points (6G, 7A) in that time.

Lake Erie’s lead wouldn’t last long, however, and the Heat would tie the game 90 seconds into the third period. Coming around the net, Mitch Wahl tried, unsuccessfully, to stuff the puck in. When the rebound came out in front, Colin Stuart picked up the rebound and put the puck past Grahame’s glove side. Jon Rheault picked up the second assist on the goal.

Pushing the pace, the Heat took their first lead of the game a minute later, as Murray netted his ninth of the season. Standing to Grahame’s right, Murray one-timed a feed that came from below the goal line from Cunning, squeezing the puck between Grahame’s blocker and body. Van der Gulik picked up the second assist on the tally.

Not content with a one-goal cushion, Abbotsford went up by two five minutes later, at the 7:24 mark of the third, when Stuart put up his 17th of the season and second of the night. When the puck came back to Keith Seabrook at the point off a faceoff, the defenseman wristed a shot toward the net that Stuart deflected past Grahame’s glove.

Down but not out, the Monsters continued to battle, and Lake Erie cut the lead to one at the 14:19 mark of the third. Throwing the puck on net, Kevin Shattenkirk’s point shot hit a body in front and dropped in front of the Heat cage, landing in the slot. Battling through a defender, fellow rookie Mike Carman swatted the rebound past Shantz, putting the Monsters down one with less than six minutes left. The assist was Shattenkirk’s first point in his first game as a pro, as the defenseman came to Cleveland on April 5th after spending the past three seasons at Boston University.

Continuing to battle, the Monsters tied the game with 17 seconds left, when Tom Preissing’s point shot found its way past Shantz and into the net. Assisted by Darren Haydar and Zach Cohen, the score knotted the game at four, and, after a center ice faceoff, put the game into the extra frame.

In the five-minute overtime, the Monsters would record a shot and hold the Heat off the shot clock, sending the game into a shootout.

Shooting first for the Monsters, Hensick deked to the forehand and slid the puck past Shantz to put the Monsters up one in the shootout. Abbotsford’s first shooter, Rheault, tried to deke to the backhand, but was denied by Grahame.

The second Lake Erie shooter, rookie Mark Olver, pulled the puck to his backhand before ripping it under the cross bar and past Shantz’s glove. Next up for Abbotsford, Wahl came in on Grahame and had his forehand deke stalled by the veteran goalie, setting the stage for Shattenkirk.

Lake Erie’s third shooter, Shattenkirk came in on his forehand and ripped a wrist shot past Shantz’s glove to put the Monsters up 3-0 in the shootout. Facing a must-score situation, Grahame denied Van der Gulik, giving the Monsters their fifth shootout win of the year.

“I liked our effort tonight. We were ready from the get-go,” said Monsters head coach David Quinn. “To me that says a lot about the older guys and the leadership. We have a lot of new young guys, and the veterans set the tone of what’s expected here, and they competed hard.”

The Monsters return to the ice on Friday, when they travel to Grand Rapids to play the Griffins in their final road game of the 2009-10 regular season. Lake Erie returns to The Q on Saturday for their final game of the season, when they host the Heat at 7:30 p.m. for Fan Appreciation Night. Tickets are available and can be purchased by calling (216) 420-0000, by visiting LakeErieMonsters.com or by visiting any Northern Ohio Discount Drug Mart.

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