For the second game in a row the Pack tried to give away a win they seemed to have in the bag, but managed to hold on, racking up their 3rd straight win and extending their undefeated-in-regulation streak to 10 games in the process.
The Pack started the game looking like a team that had just had a rare weekend off, coming out sluggish and looking disjointed and out of sync at both ends of the ice. They had trouble clearing the puck out of their own end throughout the period, but thanks in large part to some solid goaltending by Al Montoya, managed to escape the first period with a scoreless tie. The Pack’s 8-7 advantage in shots makes it look more even than it actually was.
The Pack came out much stronger in the second, and held the Falcons without a shot until just before the 11 minute mark of the period. Dane Byers had just gotten the scoring started on the power play at 10:12 when he took a perfect pass from Hutchinson as he drove to the net, deflecting the puck past Springfield goaltender Jeff Deslaurier. Lauri Korpikoski doubled the Pack’s lead four and a half minutes later when he took the puck in the far corner, skated behind the net, wrapped around the front of the net, turned, and snapped a quick shot over Deslaurier’s shoulder. Jordon Owens got the primary assist after being boarded along the far boards as he pushed the puck down the boards to Korpikoski. Owens crumpled and was slow getting up, and David Liffiton was quick to go after the Falcon’s Tim Sestito for the hit, with both players drawing 5 minute fighting majors, thought it wasn’t much of a fight. The original hit went unpenalized. Owens skated slowly to the bench after the hit, but didn’t miss a shift. The Pack finished the period with the 2-0 lead and 12-6 advantage in shots.
The Falcons got on the board at the 8:38 mark of the third period when Colin McDonald fired a soft shot towards the net which deflected off Pack defenseman Corey Potter’s skate and past Montoya. But the Pack built the lead back up to two only 32 seconds later when Tomas Pock fired a hard snap shot at the net from the left point just as Huge Jessiman broke for the net from the left corner and crossed right in front of the crease as the shot arrived. He was given credit for the goal, though I’m not sure if he deflected it off the stick or off it went off another part of his body. Deslaurier’s argued that he’d been interfered with, but referee Tudor Fiotu had none of it. Jessiman played a strong, physical game, throwing his body around and playing aggressively on a line with Anisimov and Bourret in his first game back after missing 6 with a hyperextended elbow.
Anisimov seemed to have put the game away for the Pack less then two minutes later on a play that he started by forcing a turnover in the high slot which found its way to Bourret along the half boards. Bourret moved the puck up the boards to Jessiman at the point, and he floated the puck towards the net. Anisimov intercepted it on his backhand on its way in, spun, stickhandled around a Springfield defender and fired a quick wrist shot past Deslauriers.
With a 4-1 lead, it looks like the Pack had the game in the bag, but lazy play in their own zone allowed Marc Pouliot to pick up two goals in just over two minutes at 14:01 and 16:08 to cut the lead to one. On the first, P.A. Parenteau allowed Pouliot to stickhandle around him and go in on the net. Pouliet was able to fire a quick wrist shot past Montoya’s glove hand. On the second, Pack defenseman Liffiton and Jake Taylor were MIA when Patrick Thoresen found Pouliet all alone right on Montoya’s doorstep.
The Pack didn’t make the last four minutes easy on themselves, taking a couple ill-advised icing calls, but were able to hold on in the end. With the win, the Pack maintained the 8 point gap with league-leading Providence, who also won tonight, and their 4 point lead on 3rd place Portland, on whom they still have a game in hand.
- The assists on Anisimov’s goal were officially credited to Bourret and Potter, but the Pack’s play-by-play man Bob Crawford believes it was Jessiman at the point, and I tend to agree, so the scoring may be changed.
- Defenseman Michael Sauer suffered and un-specified injury in last Friday’s game and did not play.
- Rookie Brodie Dupont took an awkward hit in the 1st and appeared to suffer a leg injury. He did not return.
- Tommy Pyatt was a healthy scratch.
2. Byers (15) (Hutchinson, Pock) 10:12 (PP)
2. Korpikoski (11) (Ownes, Graham) 14:43
3. Jessiman (11) (Pock, Bourret) 9:10
3. Anisimov (8) (Bourret, Potter) 10.59
Byers – Moore – Parenteau
Jessiman – Anisimov – Bourret
Dupont – Graham – Korpikoski
Ouellette – Owens
Pock – Hutchinson
Baranka – Potter
Liffiton – Taylor
1. Lauri Korpikoski
2. Marc Pouliot
3. Hugh Jessiman
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