The Pack won a wild one tonight, turning what appeared to be a laugher in the 2nd period into a nail-biter in the 3rd. You had to expect a penalty-filled game when referee Terry Koharski, fresh off Wednesday’s game where he handed out a mere 5 minor penalties, called the Pack’s Andrew Hutchinson for a hooking penalty only 23 seconds into the game. The Pack killed it off, allowing the Bruins only a single shot again with the advantage. They stormed back a mere 10 seconds after the power play ended, with Greg Moore scoring off a quick wrist shot from the high slot on the Pack’s first shot of the game. Two shots and a minute and eleven seconds later, the Pack would find the twine again after Alex Bourret forced a turnover and Artem Anisimov picked up the puck and dished it off to Taylor, who scored on a slapshot from the right point. One minute later it became obvious that this game wasn’t going to be a repeat of the tight defensive battle the Pack participated in on Wednesday, when the Bruin’s Nate Thompson was able to break down the right side unchallenged to snap a wrist shot over Pack goalie Al Montoya’s shoulder on Providence’s second shot of the game.
Things settled down a bit on the scoreboard, but got increasingly nasty in the ice with P.A. Parenteau and Martins Karsums swapping Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalties at 8:47 and Dane Byers and Matt Lashoff trading roughing minors at the 16:20 mark. The nastiness would really heat up with 5 seconds to go in the period when Providence’s Jeff Hogan was called for goaltender interference and Parenteau and Jonathan Sigalet each earned 10 minute misconducts. When the buzzer sounded five seconds later to signal the end of the period Providence defenseman Sean Curry completely lost his composure and jumped an unsuspecting Byers and had him down on the ice pounding on him before Byers was even able to drop his gloves. Curry picked up a 2 minute minor for instigating, a 5 minute major for fighting and a game misconduct, while Byers got away penalty-free. Corey Potter and Matt Hendricks would pick up matching fighting majors of their own, but the Pack would head into the 2nd period with 1:55 of a 2-man advantage plus almost a full 5 minutes of major penalty time on which to score.
And score they did, picking up 5 power play goals in under 5 minutes. Hutchinson got things started at 1:29 with a quick shot from the center of the blue line with loads of traffic in front. He then make it 3-1 only thirty seconds later with a slapshot that beat goaltender Tuuka Rask cleanly from the left point. Byers would make it 4-1 thirteen seconds later and after being forced to make a tough stop on Anisimov less than a minute later Rask was pulled in favor of Jordan Sigalet. Sigalet wasn’t able to stop the bleeding, as Byers got his second of the game less than a minute later at 5:06. Hoggan picked up an Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty and 10 minute misconduct after the goal, giving the Pack another 5-on-3, on which Hutchinson scored his 3rd of the game, earning the first hat trick for a Wolf Pack defenseman in franchise history. The Pack’s five power play goals in the period also tied a franchise record for power play goals in a period.
As you might expect, the next three penalty calls in the period (and 2 more in the 3rd) went against the Pack, including 28 seconds of 5-on-3 time for the Bruins, during which Montoya was forced to come up big in a 3-shot flurry, the last of which he stopped by getting his glove up to block the shot while down flat on his stomach. The Pack killed off all three penalties in the period, but Providence got a goal back with a minute to go in the period when Aaron Slattengren fired a shot at the net from behind the goal line in the left corner, deflecting it off Montoya’s skate and into the net. Still, with a 7-2 lead as teams headed to the locker room at the end of the 2nd, a Pack win looked pretty much assured.
But the Bruins haven’t earned the AHL’s best record by giving up on games, and they came out strong in the 3rd, cutting the Pack’s lead to 4 at 1:11 when Slattengren picked up his 2nd of the game. The Bruins kept the Pack pinned in their zone for the vast majority of the period, peppering Montoya with shots and forcing him to come up with a number if tough saves. The Pack struggled to control the puck and clear the zone and rarely crossed the red line into the Bruins end when they did. They mustered a mere three shots on goal in the 3rd. The Bruin’s power play offered its response to the Pack’s strong showing when Lashoff scored at 14:52 with Dane Byers in the penalty box for high sticking, and again at 19:08 when Brett Skinner cashed in on a Parenteau tripping penalty with goalie Jordan Sigalet on the bench for the extra skater. With the Pack’s seemingly insurmountable 6 goal lead shrunk to 2 and the Bruins firing shots on Montoya at will through the final minutes of the period, the outcome suddenly seemed less than assured. But time ran out for the Bruins and the Pack escaped with a 7-5 win over a team they’d only been able to beat once in 6 previous attempts this season. Not before they surrendered a franchise record 28 shots against in the 3rd period, however, for a total of 49 shots against in the game compared to 23 shots for.
With the win, the Pack increased their Atlantic Division lead over 3rd place Portland to 4 points while shrinking 1st pace Providence’s lead to 8. They now sit second in the league with a 31-13-2-5 record for 69 points, behind only Providence. And with it’s 5 for 6 performance, the Packs’ power play improved to 4th place in the league, at 20.7%. Of course, with the Pack getting a rare Saturday and Sunday off this weekend, there’s a good chance those rankings will change by the time the Pack play their next game on Wednesday against Springfield.
1. Moore (19) (Byers, Parenteau) 2:33
1. Taylor (3) (Anisimov, Bourret) 3:44
2. Hutchinson (10) (Pock, Moore) 1:29 (PP)
2. Hutchinson (11) (Anisimov, Pock) 1:59 (PP)
2. Byers (13) (Moore, Baranka) 3:12 (PP)
2. Byers (14) (Moore, Bourret) 5:06 (PP)
2. Hutchinson (12) (Pock, Korpikoski) 6:21 (PP)
Byers – Moore – Parenteau
Korpikoski – Anisimov – Bourret
Dupont – Ouellette – Pyatt
Owens – Pock
Potter – Hutchinson
Taylor – Liffiton
Baranka – Sauer
Montoya / Wiikman
1. Andrew Hutchinson
2. Greg Moore
3. Aaron Slattengren
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