While on paper it may look like the penalties they took — including a pair of overlapping 5 minute majors — cost the Wolf Pack the game, it was perhaps the Portland penalty on which the Pack failed to score that was the real turning point in this game.
The Pack got off to a great start, getting on the board just over two minutes in on an early power play when a series of tick-tack passes saw Callahan move the puck in from the left point to Hutchinson pinching in on the right, who then passed it back across to Byers, who put it in from the doorstep. The Pack had the clear advantage throughout the first, and at 8:19 the built their lead to two when, with Montoya pulled on a delayed penalty, Anisimov took the puck from Baranka in the Pack zone, skated it into the neutral zone and passed it up to Callahan, who skated it into the left faceoff circle, where he fired a bullet of a wrist shot over Portland goalie Mike McKenna’s shoulder. The Pack held the Pirates without a shot through at least the first 16 minutes of the first period (and held them to only 2 in the period), including through a power play opportunity when Dupont took a hooking penalty 11 minutes in.
The Pack got their second power play opportunity of the game at the 15:16 mark when Bobby Ryan took a tripping penalty, but they were guilty of trying to be too fancy with the puck, and allowed Portland to kill it off without much trouble.
The Pack’s real opportunity came at the 19:31 mark when Portland center Geoff Platt took a somewhat marginal 5-minute high sticking major — one of three such calls in the game. But through the final 30 seconds of the 1st and the first 4:29 of the first, the Pack were unable to pose a serious threat, playing without any sense of urgency and struggling to get into the zone and set up. Just as the penalty expired, Pock bobbled the puck at his own blue line and had it taken away by Tyler Bouck, who fed it to Platt as he was coming out of the penalty box. Platt went in alone on Montoya and beat him high with a quick wrist shot. The goal signaled a huge shift in the momentum of the game.
Portland would tie it up at 2 just a little over two minutes later on the rush when Ryan took a pass from Platt, deked Montoya with a quick forehand-backhand move, and put up high with the backhand. Korpikoski regained the lead for the Pack just before the sixteen minute mark on a 4-on-4 when Ouellette dropped the puck back to him on the rush and he fired a hard slapshot past McKenna from the top of the left circle. In between, Baranka would be forced to defend himself in a fight with Jason King after throwing a hard hit along the boards (he held his own) and Bourret would square off with Simon Ferguson off the ensuing faceoff (Ferguson the clear winner). Bourret’s fight was apparently a response to a hit Ferguson threw against him in the 1st.
To close out the second it would be Korpikoski getting his stick up high on a Portland player, in the offensive zone, drawing the 5 minute major with 1:10 to go in the period. The Pack would hold on and escape the period with the 3-1 lead, outshooting the Pirates 11-7, for a 18-9 advantage on the game.
But the Pack would dig themselves a deeper hole just 59 seconds into the third when Jake Taylor drew another 5 minute high sticking major in a battle in front of the net. Like Platt’s first period call, I’m not convinced it was worthy of a major, but that’s how it was called, and it would come back to haunt the Pack just 20 seconds later when King tied it up. The Pack would get a bit of a break when Andrew Ebbet was called for a phantom goalie interference call after he was dumped into Montoya. That allowed the Pack to just about finish the first major with a 4-on-3 instead of a 5-on-3. But after both Korpikoski and Ebbet returned, with the Pack still down 5-on-4, Petteri Wirtanen would give the Pirates their first lead of the game, 4-3.
The Pack refused to concede the game, however, and Hutchinson tied things up around the halfway point of the 3rd when Parenteau got the puck through to him as he cheated in from the point on the power play. Put the Pack’s penalty problems weren’t finished. Callahan would take a tripping penalty with 5 minutes left, but the Pack would kill it off. Then with 54 seconds to go, Callahan came back to the bench slow after a long shift and Parenteau jumped out too fast, causing the Pack to be called for Too Many Men. The Pirates would fire a bunch of shots towards the goal over the remaining 54 seconds of regulation, getting some timely blocks by the defensemen and a number of good saves by Montoya to earn the Pack a point in the standings.
It would take only 33 seconds of 4-on-3 overtime play for the Ebbett to end up with the puck and fire it high over Montoya’s glove to give Portland the extra point and a 4 point cushion on 2nd place in the Atlantic Division standings (though the Pack do have 2 games in hand). The Pack finished the game with a 28-20 advantage in shots, after matching the 10 shots Portland took in the 3rd, despite their advantage in power play time in the period.
- Liffiton returned to the lineup and played well. He was physical and involved — hard to believe he’s missed the last 34 games.
- The Pack dressed 7 d-men, with Pock taking a couple shifts at forward, as well as playing the point on the PP.
- Pyatt was the healthy scratch to make room for Liffiton.
- Bourret was hospitalized briefly last night for abdominal pain, but was released and checked out by team doctors today. No issues were found, and he was able to play in tonight’s game.
Dupont – Moore – Parenteau
Byers – Anisimov – Callahan
Bourret – Korpikoski – Jessiman
Pock – Ouellette
Potter – Hutchinson
Baranka – Taylor
Liffiton – Sauer
Montoya / Wiikman
1. Geoff Platt
2. Andrew Hutchinson
3. Ryan Callahan
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