This was the dominant performance I’ve been waiting for from Ryan Callahan. After going two games without getting on the scoreboard, Callahan finished the night tonight with two goals, an assist, and numerous additional scoring chances to go along with some feisty penalty killing. Miika Wiikman also put up another strong performance, making a number of tough saves in the third when the Sharks really started to apply pressure.
The Pack were dominant in the first, but Sharks rookie goalie Taylor Dakers put up a good fight, stopping 14 of the 15 shots the Pack put on the board. Callahan started the scoring off on the power play at the 11:55 mark when he made a strong move out from the far boards boards into the high slot, and then dished the puck down to Dane Byers at the left side of the net. Byers skated out in front of the net unchallenged and put a pretty backhander past Sharks goalie Taylor Dakers. The Pack finished the period outshooting the Sharks by a 15-6 margin. The only negative of the Pack’s dominant period was that they lost Hugh Jessiman to some kind of injury, as he took his last shift at around the 6 minute mark and did not return the rest of the game.
Wiikman gave up his only goal of the game at 8:43 of the second after a shot by Sharks winger Lukas Kaspar struck a player in front and deflected directly across the crease to Patrick Traverse, who was all alone at the left side of the net. Wiikman didn’t have a chance to get across to stop him. But the Pack responded two and a half minutes later, when Byers threaded a nice, hard cross-crease pass from the right side of the net to an open wide open and waiting Callahan who needed only to tap the puck into the empty side of the net. Callahan then topped off the scoring at 14:09 on a beautiful breakaway goal. Artem Anisimov got control of the puck in the high slot in the Pack’s zone and chipped the puck out ahead of Callahan, who turned on the jets big time to pull ahead of Traverse to go in on the breakaway, with Traverse right on his tail the whole way. He pulled a beautiful forehand-backhand-forehand deke and put the puck around Dakers to give the Pack the 3-1 lead, which they would hold the rest of the way.
The Sharks came out really strong in the 3rd, dominating play and giving the Pack just about all they could handle. But the Pack showed confidence and poise in not getting rattled, and Wiikman came up big when he needed to, stopping all 11 shots he faced in the period while the Pack mustered only 4 against the Sharks. By holding on for the win, the Pack improved their record against the Sharks this season to 6-0 and gave themselves at least a point in 8 of their last 9 games while keeping pace with 2nd place Portland, who remained 1 point ahead of them in the standings after coming from behind to beat Wilkes-Barre. The Pack still have a game in hand.
Wiikman improved his record to 11-4, with a 2.30 GAA and .917% save percentage. That ranks him 8th among AHL goalies in goals against and 13th in save percentage.
The Pack face the first place Providence Bruins tomorrow night at home, in a game which will most likely feature Al Montoya in goal, since it’s Al Montoya bobblehead night at the XL Center. The Pack have come closer to beating Providence each time they’ve played, pushing them to OT in each of the last two, but have yet to hold on for a win.
1. Byers (11) (Callahan, Pock) 11:55 (PP)
2. Callahan (4) (Byers, Potter) 11:16
2. Callahan (5) (Anisimov, Sauer) 14:09
Byers – Anisimov – Callahan
Parenteau – Moore – Bourret
Dupont – Korpikoski – Jessiman
Pyatt – Ouellette
Liffiton – Taylor
Hutchinson – Potter
Pock – Sauer
Wiikman / Montoya
1. Ryan Callahan
2. Dane Byers
3. Miika Wiikman
No Comments so far
Leave a comment
Leave a comment