Miika Wiikman made a big statement tonight, stopping 37 shots to notch his second shut out in three games — on Al Montoya Bobblehead Night. With his performance, Wiikman moved up to 3rd in the AHL in save percentage (.924) and 5th in the league in goals against average (2.16). As I overheard while leaving the Civic Cen….err… XL Center: “Al who?”
The Pack got on the board early, at 1:50 of the first during a 4-on-4, when Andrew Hutchinson fed a breakout pass to Ryan Callahan, who carried the puck into the Providence zone and slid a shot/pass along the ice towards the net. Dane Byers was able to get a stick on it as he crashed the net and deflect the puck in between the right post and Providence goaltender Jordan Sigalet. The remainder of the first period, and the entire second period, would pass without a goal, with Providence getting the majority of chances in the second, outshooting the Pack 16-6 and forcing Wiikman to make a number of good saves. To their credit, the Pack played a very tight, defensive game, and were good at clearing rebounds from the slot and preventing second and third chances. The highlight of the second came when Providence forward Jeff Hogan was awarded a questionable penalty shot (he got a good shot off), but Wiikman made the save look easy.
The Pack were able to expand their lead to two at the half way point of the 3rd when Tommy Pyatt controlled the puck on the boards behind the goal line, then wrapped it around from the right side through the crease to Brodie Dupont, who was able to put it past Sigalet from the left side of the slot. For Pyatt, it was his first point in 7 games. For Dupont, his first point in 8 and his first goal in 25.
As they’ve been doing a lot lately, the Pack got themselves in trouble late, when Callahan took an offensive zone tripping penalty (his second penalty of the game) at 17:19. That allowed Providence to pull their goalie for the approximate 1 minute of 6-on-4. But the Pack would hold on, and Ouellette would ice the win with 24 seconds to go when he skated the puck out of the zone and fired an empty netter from the red line.
This was the 6th game the Pack played against the AHL-leading Bruins, and only their first win. It was only their 8th regulation loss in 45 games played this far. Over the course of the game, Providence definitely carried the play, particularly in the 2nd and 3rd, but with the exception of the last-minute penalty, the Pack showed poise and confidence in holding on the lead. The Bruins ended up outshooting the Pack 37-21, and a number of them were pretty good chances that forced Wiikman to earn his shut out.
High Jessiman sat out the game with a hyper-extended elbow. Ivan Baranka missed his 4th game with a shoulder injury.
1. Byers (12) (Callahan, Hutchinson) 1:50
3. Dupont (6) (Pyatt, Korpikoski) 10:00
3. Ouellette (3) (Byers, Moore) 19:36 (EN)
Byers – Anisimov – Callahan
Parenteau – Moore – Bourret
Dupont – Pyatt – Korpikoski
Ouellette – Owens
Liffiton – Taylor
Potter – Hutchinson
Pock – Sauer
Wiikman / Montoya
1. Miika Wiikman
2. Andrew Hutchinson
3. Dane Byers
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