Six days ago in Bridgeport the Pack got off to a sloppy start, getting penned in their zone and taking two penalties before the first minute had ticked off the clock, leading to an early 2 goal deficit from which they could never recover. They made no such mistake tonight, rebounding from a 6-1 shellacking by division-leading Providence on Thursday with a solid 5-2 win over intra-state rivals from Bridgeport.
The first period was a fairly dull affair with both teams playing well defensively, if somewhat tentatively, and limiting quality scoring chances. Bridgeport had the early advantage in shots, leading the Pack by the count of 9 to 6 at one point. But the Pack got on the scoreboard first when Lauri Korpikoski put a rebound past Bridgeport goalie Joey McDonald during a scramble in front of the net. The period finished with the Pack having a 13-11 shot advantage and the 1-0 lead.
Bridgeport tied things up just two minutes into the second when Jeremy Colliton threw the puck into the crease from behind the goal line, where it bounced off (I think) goalie Miika Wiikman’s stick directly onto the stick of Steve Regier, who put it in the net. But Pack captain Andrew Hutchinson, playing in his first game back after missing 3 with a goin injury, put the Pack back on top just three minutes later when he took a beautiful cross-ice pass from P.A. Parenteau and fired a blistering one-timer past McDonald from the left point on the power play. Just under two minutes later the Tigers Pascal Morency, who was taken off the ice on a stretcher after going into the boards awkwardly following a collision with Michael Sauer during the game last weekend, challenged rookie Jordan Owens to a fight, and beat him cleanly. Hutchinson would go to the box for hooking on the next shift, giving Bridgeport a power play on which they converted at the 8:05 mark when Trevor Smith once again fired the puck out into the slot from behind the goal. This time it would deflect off Pack defenseman Michael Sauer’s skate and between Wiikman’s legs, tying the score at two.
But the hockey gods were smiling on the Pack tonight. Earlier in the first Bridgeport had a goal waved off when it was determined it was swatted in by a Bridgeport player’s hand. In the third they’d have a goal disallowed when it was ruled to have been kicked in. In between, Parenteau was credited with one of the most bizarre goals of the season when a Bridgeport defender tried to wrap the puck around the boards behind the net from the right corner, only to have the puck take a bizarre bounce off of one of the metal glass supports, deflect out over the goal, hit McDonald in the back, and drop behind him into the net. As the last Hartford player to touch the puck, Parenteau was given credit for the goal, giving the Pack a 3-2 lead at 14:15. They finished the period with an 11-6 advantage in shots, but in terms of quality scoring chances the teams were fairly even. Both goalies were solid, but neither was forced to make any incredible, game-saving stops.
In the 3rd the Pack solidified their lead and then locked things down, despite taking the only two penalties of the period. At 7:50 Corey Potter, who would finish the game a +3 and move into 3rd in the AHL in that category, fired a one-timer over McDonald’s shoulder from the right point to give the Pack the 2-goal cushion. Things got a little dicey at the end, when, with under 2 minutes to go, Baranka would lose his cool while battling for the puck deep in the Pack zone and get penalized for roughing when he got his gloves and stick up in the fact of a Bridgeport player. That set up a 1:39 6-on-4 for Bridgeport. But the Pack would defend it well and with 31 seconds remaining Lauri Korpikoski stole the puck deep in the Bridgeport zone and put it in the empty net from the left side boards to ice the game once and for all. The win, combined with wins for Providence and Portland, allowed Hartford to maintain their 6 point gap with Providence and 7 point lead on Portland. They continue to hold the 4th best record in the AHL.
- Byer’s assist on Potter’s goal gives him 10 points in the last 8 games, while his +20 ranks 3rd on the team and 7th in the AHL.
- Parenteau’s goal and assist give him 58 points in 55 games, good for 5th in AHL scoring. He has points in each of his last 6 games (10pts) and has failed to register a point in just 1 of the 11 games he’s played in February.
- Hutchinson’s goal allowed him to maintain a 4 point lead as the highest scoring defenseman in the league
- Alex Bourret returned after missing one game with a hip injury. David Liffiton remains out indefinitely with a concussion. Tommy Pyatt, Bruce Graham and Jared Nightingale were healthy scratches.
1. Korpikoski (13) (Owens, Ouellette) 15:15
2. Hutchinson (14) (Parenteau, Pock) 5:07 (PP)
2. Parenteau (24) 14:15
3. Potter (3) (Byers, Jessiman) 7:50
3. Korpikoski (14) 19:29 (EN/SH)
Hossa – Moore – Parenteau
Byers – Anisimov – Jessiman
Dupont – Korpikoski – Bourret
Ouellette – Owens
Hutchinson – Potter
Baranka – Taylor
Pock – Sauer
Wiikman / Holt
1. Lauri Korpikoski
2. Corey Potter
3. P.A. Parenteau
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