Game 62: Hartford Wolf Pack 0 @ Portland Pirates 3
Sunday March 02nd 2008, 9:31 am

The Pack came out flat for the second straight game, allowing the Portland Pirates to dominate in both puck possession and quality scoring chances through the first two periods and climb to within 4 points of the Pack for 2nd place in the Atlantic Division with a convincing 3-0 win in Portland this afternoon.

This was the final game in 3-games-in-3-days stretches for both teams, but the Pack entered the game with the added disadvantage of fielding a short bench, unable to get a body in from Charlotte in time to replace the injured Alex Bourret, who’d been forced out of the previous two games due to injury and was wisely kept out from the start tonight. But the short bench doesn’t excuse the Pack’s second consecutive slow start, allowing Portland to jump out to an 11-3 advantage in shots through the first 14 minutes of the period. Miika Wiikman got the start, and was forced to come up big throughout the period, keeping the Pack in a game that could have gotten out of reach quickly. But he couldn’t stop everything, and with just under two minutes to go in the period, a Portland forward passed the puck out into the crease from behind the net for a shot from the crease. Wiikman was able to make the first save, and kept his pad down and jammed against the right post, but in the scramble that ensued Portland center Jason King was able to jam the puck under Wiikman somehow. While the Pack were able to shrink the shot differential to 16-11 by the end of the period, only one or two of their shots provided any serious challenge for recently-acquired Portland goalie Jean-Sebastien Aubin, playing in his first game for the Pirates after spending most of the season in the NHL with the L.A. Kings.

As matching minor penalties called at 18:39 of the first expired in the 2nd Wiikman was forced to stop one of three breakways he’d face in the game. He’d continue to shut the door until the 7:36 mark, when Mike Sauer got caught chasing the puck carrier to far out towards the blue line in the Pack zone, leaving odd numbers in favor of the Pirates down low when defenseman Joe Callahan fired a shot in on net. Wiikman made the first save, but the Pirates were able to take multiple swats at it before Darryl Bootland put it past him. The Pirates continued to dominate puck position through the remainder of the period, and kept the puck in the Pack zone for long stretches of time. The Pack did get their first two power play opportunities of the game in the period and were able to generate a few chances with the extra man, but couldn’t solve Aubin, and failed to beat the Pirates to rebounds throughout the game. During the first of the power plays, which came just past the halfway mark of the period, captain Andrew Hutchinson left the ice and headed to the locker room with trainer Damian Hess. He wouldn’t return for the remainder of the period, which finished with the Pack having a misleading 10-7 advantage in shots, but would be back for the start of the 3rd.

Whatever coach Ken Gernander said between the 2nd and 3rd periods seemed to get through to the Pack, who came out playing with urgency for the first time in their last 5 periods and ran up a 10-1 shot advantage through the first six and a half minutes of the period alone. The Pack forward lines, which had been switched up to start the game, were changed once again late in the 2nd to reunite Greg Moore with wingers Dane Byers and P.A. Parenteau, while Anisimov found himself flanked by Korpikoski and Dupont. All three lines worked hard and were able to keep pressure on the Pirates in the offensive zone. But for the second straight night officiating played a roll in the game after Francois St. Laurent allowed a number of dirty, chippy play go un-whistled (on both sides) until the 12:21 mark of the period, when, after Pirate defenseman Brett Festerling first kneed a pack player along the boards behind the net, and then knocked Parenteau into the boards from behind, St. Laurent decided punish Parenteau for elbowing instead. The call would prove costly when Joe Callahan’s floating point shot got through a tangle of bodies in front and was deflected by Drew Miller past Wiikman at the 13:45 mark of the period. The goal pretty much cemented the Pirates’ victory. On his next shift Parenteau would try to take out his frustrations on old friend Bobby Ryan, with whom he played in Portland in the 2006 playoffs and 2006-2007 regular season, with both players dropping the gloves, but the linesman jumped in before either could throw a punch. The Pack finished with a 5-on-3 in the closing minute and a half of the game but did absolutely nothing with it, seemingly having given up on the game as soon as the 3rd Portland goal was scored. They finished the period with a 17-4 advantage in shots, largely due to their 10-shot rampage early in the period, and finished with a misleading 38-27 advantage for the game.

The Pack head out for their farthest road trip of the season next weekend, with stops in Houston and Friday and San Antonio, where they’ll face their old pal Al Montoya, on Saturday.

Pack Scoring

Byers – Anisimov – Parenteau
Dupont – Moore – Korpikoski
Jessiman – Ouellette – Gratton

Potter – Hutchinson
Taylor – Pock
Baranka – Sauer

Wiikman / LeNeveu

Three Stars
1. Jean-Sebastien Aubin
2. Joe Callahan
3. Mike Hoffman

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Filed under: Hartford Wolf Pack

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