In honor of Hockey Weekend Across America my husband and I decided to take in a double header today, and headed straight from a Ranger win at the Garden to Hartford, where we were able to witness the Wolf Pack’s 5th consecutive win, and 12th consecutive game in which they picked up at least a point.
It didn’t take the Pack long to get the second largest crowd of the season (7,539) into the game. Marcel Hossa, in the first game of a conditioning stint, set up in front of the net on the power play and was able to deflect an Andrew Hutchinson point shot past Portland goaltender Mike McKenna. Portland forward and 2005 #2 overall draft pick Bobby Ryan tied it up just under 4 minutes later, but the Pack got their 2nd of three power play goals on the night just a minute and 42 seconds later when Hutchinson fired a laser of a slap shot into the top corner of the net from the left point. The Pack ended the period with a 15-9 advantage in shots, largely the result of a 3-1 advantage in power play opportunities.
The second period started off with P.A. Parenteau’s first of two goals on the night just 58 seconds in when he intercepted a Portland clearing pass and skated in alone on McKenna for the unassisted goal. Parenteau seems to like playing against his old team, as this was the third multiple point game he’s played against them (he finish tonight with 2 goals and an assist). Hugh Jessiman faced off with Brandon Segal only 12 seconds later, in a quick, but classic hockey fight: both players squared off, removed their helmets, and danced around for a couple seconds. But Jessiman used his long reach to get a hold of Segal’s jersey, pull it over his head, and put him down with one quick punch.
But less than two minutes later Hossa threw a lazy pass through the middle of the ice just inside the Pack zone on the PK which was picked off by Pirate forward Andrew Ebbett, who walked in alone and beat Montoya through the five hole. Jessiman, looking more and more like a hockey player with each game, made a nice play just before the 9 minute mark of the period, carrying the puck deep into the Portland zone, where he held it in the corner as his linemates crashed the net, then fired it into the crease, where it deflected off a Pirate defenseman and between McKenna’s legs to give the Pack a two goal lead. It was Jessiman’s second point of the game, giving him 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists) in 3 games since returning from injury. He’s also had three fights in that time, including two tonight, giving him one more than he needed for the Gordie Howe Hat Trick.
Parenteau got his second at 16:52, the result of some nice passing between him, Tomas Pock and Greg Moore just as a power play expired. The goal gave Parenteau 21 on the season, allowing him to re-take the Pack’s goal scoring lead from Greg Moore. The Pack had the slim 7-6 lead in shots in the period, but to be honest, they looked pretty dominant all game long — even when the score was 2-1 and 3-2 I really had little doubt of a positive outcome.
In the 3rd Andy Schneider got the Pirates back to within two goals when he was left wide open in the high slot (by Hossa) just as a Portland power play expired. Dane Byers capped off the scoring at the 15 minute mark of the period with a nice deflection on a Pock power play point shot. For Byers it was his 17th goal of the season, equaling the previous season’s somewhat surprising rookie mark — in 28 fewer games. It was also his fourth consecutive game with a goal. He’s picked up 5 goals and 1 assist in the past 4 games.
The Pack finished the game with four minutes of power play time after Portland’s Geoff Peters lost his cool, taking a double minor for roughing in what amounted to a mugging of Jessiman, who ended up dropping the gloves for a second time in the game with Darryl Bootland as part of the same play. This one was more of a wrestling match than a fight, however.
The Pack finished the period with a 10-8 advantage in shots, for a combined advantage of 32-23 over the course of the game. Perhaps the only negative to take from the game is that it appears the Pack lost their captain, Anfrew Hutchinson, to injury at some point during the course of the game, because he did not play in the 3rd, was not on the bench, and did not appear when he was annouced as the 3rd star of the game. Losing Hutchinson, who overtook Moore to gain the 2nd rank in Pack scoring with his two points tonight, and continues to lead all AHL defensemen in scoring, could be a significant blow to a young team who voted to name him their captain only a little more than 3 weeks ago.
- I saw Sauer walking through the concourse between periods, and he didn’t appear to be limping or favoring either leg, so hopefully his knee injury is of the minor variety.
- To make room for Hossa, Jordan Owens took a seat with Tommy Pyatt as a healthy scratch.
- Montoya made some timely saves early in the 1st, but wasn’t really tested much. It was his 5th consecutive start, and 5th consecutive win. While some have suggested he’s being showcased for potential trade partners, it seems to me Gernander may be going with the “stick with the hot hand” theory of coaching. It took a loss by Wiikman for Montoya to get back in the net, and I get the feeling the job is now Montoya’s until the team loses.
- Wiikman’s best chance could come tomorrow afternoon when the Pack head to Bridgeport to face the baby Islanders, who they’ve only managed to beat once in five tries this season, after dominating the season series last season.
1. Hossa (1) (Hutchinson, Bourret) 1:16 (PP)
1. Hutchinson (13) (Bourret, Jessiman) 6:42 (PP)
2. Parenteau (20) 0:58
2. Jessiman (12) (Potter) 8:57
2. Parenteau (21) (Pock, Moore) 16:52
3. Byers (17) (Pock, Parenteau) 14:59 (PP)
Byers – Moore -Parenteau
Hossa – Anisimov – Bourret
Dupont – Korpikoski – Jessiman
Graham – Ouellette
Baranka – Potter
Pock – Hutchinson
Liffiton – Taylor
Montoya / Wiikman
1. Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau
2. Hugh Jessiman
3. Andrew Hutchinson
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