Highlights and post-game notes: Toffoli shines in Monarchs in OT loss

Hockey players are supposed to experience a bit of an adjustment period when they step-up to the next level. Don’t tell that to Tyler Toffoli though. The Kings top-rated offensive prospect capped off a trying week with another goal earlier today, part of a 3-2 Monarchs defeat on home ice.

Toffoli, originally selected in the second round at the 2010 NHL Draft held in Los Angeles, played in three of Manchester’s four games this week. He started things out with his first professional hat trick on Wednesday.  He then went home for the holiday and attended his grandmother’s funeral – something he said was one of the hardest things he’s ever had to do.

While away, he missed the Monarchs game on Friday night. However, he was back in the line-up on Saturday and scored again. Then, in the final game of the weekend (played this afternoon vs. the Portland Pirates), he scored his team-high ninth goal of the season and moved just a few points behind Brandon Kozun for the overall team points lead.

So, that was five goals in three games played this week for Toffoli. He’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see if it’s enough to earn AHL Player of the Week honors.

Here are some highlights and post-game comments from Toffoli and coach Mark Morris…

Game recap provided via team press release…

MANCHESTER, NH – The Manchester Monarchs earned four out of six points this weekend but fell to the Portland Pirates, 3-2, in overtime in the third VIP Cup match-up game of the season at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Sunday afternoon.

Manchester (9-6-2-1) leads the Atlantic Division with 21 points. Portland (8-8-1-1) ranks third in the Division with 18 points.

“We would have liked to have polished this one off but I guess it wasn’t meant to be,” said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris. “We batted the puck to them twice and it ended up in our net and then got beat on a one-on-one. We had our chances so you have to give their goalie credit. He (Chad Johnson) played real hard and they didn’t give up on him but all in all, if you look at the points we were able to accumulate on the weekend with the line-up that we have, I’m sure that we’ll feel better about it tomorrow.”

Defenseman David Rundblad scored the game-winning goal for the Pirates 1:27 into overtime. Center Andy Miele broke out of the Pirates zone feeding Rundblad at center ice. Rundblad split the Monarchs defense and skated in on Monarchs goaltender Martin Jones before roofing a wrist shot over the glove side for his second goal of the season.

The Monarchs opened the scoring with a goal by defenseman Jake Muzzin at 9:54 of the first period. Right wing Jordan Nolan passed the puck from the right wing corner out to Muzzin at the center point. Muzzin faked a slap shot before wristing a shot past Pirates goaltender Chad Johnson for the goal. Right wing Brandon Kozun also picked up an assist on Muzzin’s first goal of the season.

The Pirates tied the game at 1-1 with a power play goal by defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson at 16:01 of the first period. Runblad passed the puck from the right point to center Jordon Martinook in the left wing face-off circle. The puck was deflected by a Monarchs defender before Martinook played it back to Ekman-Larsson who took a shot from the top of the left wing face-off circle. Ekman-Larsson’s shot beat Jones midway up on the stick side for his fifth goal of the season.

The Monarchs took a 2-1 third period lead when right wing Tyler Toffoli scored at 12:22. Jones redirected a loose puck to the left corner for left wing Tanner Pearson who skated it out of the Monarchs zone. Pearson played the puck from center ice ahead to Toffoli entering the Pirates zone on the right wing. Toffoli skated past the Pirates defense and in on the net before wristing a shot on Johnson. Toffoli’s shot deflected off Johnson and fluttered into the net for his ninth goal of the season.

The Pirates tied the score at 2-2 with a goal by right wing Chris Brown at 15:31 of the third period. The Monarchs failed to clear a bouncing puck in between the hash marks and Brown grabbed it and wristed a shot five-hole for the goal. Left wing Rob Klinkhammer also tallied an assist on Brown’s seventh goal of the season.

Jones (7-7-1) took his seventh loss of the season stopping 47-of-50 shots. Johnson (6-5-0) earned his sixth win of the season making 37 saves on 39 shots.

Manchester went 0-for-4 on the power play. Portland was 1-for-2 with the man advantage.

Notables: Monarchs defenseman Jake Muzzin tallied his first goal since April 13, 2012…Right wing Jordan Nolan has a three-game point streak (1-2=3) since returning from an injury on Friday, November 23…Right wing Tyler Toffoli has five goals in his last three games and a three-game goal streak…Right wing Brandon Kozun has a three-game assist and point streak (0-3=3).

The Monarchs return to action at next Friday for a home game vs. the Springfield Falcons.

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