The Pirates pushed the Pack to the brink of elimination tonight with a 4-3 win, thanks in large part to their continued undisciplined play.
Hartford got off to a much better start in this game than in any of the three previous games in the series, for the most part controlling the pace of play through the first 8 minutes. But despite puck possession time, the Pack had only two shots on goal to show for it, compared to the Pirates’ one. Then at 8:28 the Pack got themselves into their first penalty trouble of the night when Tomas Pock took exception to a Pirate crowding goaltender David LeNeveu after the whistle, earning himself a roughing penalty and giving the Pirates their first of 6 power play opportunities. The pack killed it off, and went on to get the first goal of the game for the first time in the series, at 11:03, when a clearing pass by Pirate defenseman Brian Salcido deflected off Greg Moore’s skate into the high slot, where Alex Bourret was able to get to it first and fire it past Pirate goaltender J.S. Aubin from just to the right of the hash marks.
It looked like the Pack took a two goal lead with around five minutes to go in the period when Bobby Sanguinetti fed Artem Anisimov, who was in down low on a 2-on-1 with Josh Gratton, from just inside the Pirate blue line. Anisimov looked to pass first before firing a quick wrist shot high to Aubin’s stick side. But referee Francois St. Laurent immediately waved the goal off, explaining only that the whistle had already blown, leaving Pack play-by-play man Bob Crawford to speculate they must called the play for offsides. No replay was available to confirm or deny that suspicion, but it was St. Luarent who must have made the late call, because the linesman made no signal. When play resumed, Gratton squared off with Pirate winger Darryl Bootland. Both connected on a fair number of shots before Gratton got the upper hand, landing a hard right that sent Bootland to the ice.
A minute and a half later Pack captain Andrew Hutchinson put the Pack back down a man when he was called for cross checking mere seconds after getting away with a trip on the same Portland player. The Pirates made them pay with good puck movement in the Pack zone, ending with Jason King beating LeNeveu with a wrist shot from the left circle. Hutchinson made up for his penalty with just four seconds to go in the period when he beat Aubin with a blistering, unscreened slap shot from the top of the left circle during a 4-on-4 that resulted when Alex Bourret and Portland winger Simon Ferguson were whistled for coinciding roughing penalties at 19:10.
Early in the second the Pack got themselves in penalty trouble once again, when Corey Potter took one of the three two-minute minors he’d be whistled for on the night at 1:10. Once again the Pirates made the Pack pay, when Stephen Dixon deflected a point shot from Joe Callahan past LeNeveu at 2:41, knotting the score. Less than five minutes later they took the lead when defenseman Brett Festerling intentionally fired a shot from the point wide of the net, bouncing it off the back boards and out in front of the net, where Mike Hoffman, who returned after serving a one game suspension for elbowing Anisimov in game 2, was ready, waiting and wide open to put it past LeNeveu at 7:25.
Potter took his second minor of the game — for slashing — at the halfway point of the period, but the Pack were able to kill it off. At 16:57 they got their first opportunity with the man advantage, and used that chance to knot the score back up at 3 when Korpikoski fed Parenteau at the hashmarks for a quick redirection through the five hole on Aubin at 18.19.
The Pack got their second and final opportunity on the power play just 24 seconds into the third, but were unable to convert. Potter then took his 3rd minor of the game — this one for hooking — at 9:04, but the Pack killed it off. But with just under 5 minutes to play in the game, the Pack lost an offensive zone draw, allowing the Pirates to break out of their zone and into the Pack zone with a 3-on-2. Saturday’s hero Bobby Ryan fed Dixon down low for his second of the game, giving the Pirates the 4-3 lead with only 4:20 left to play in the game.
On the next shift, Alex Bourret ensured the Pack would not be able to battle back when he charged in from the top of the circles on Portland defenseman Joe Callahan behind the net, earning himself a 5-minute major for boarding with just 3:58 to play in the game. Despite getting jumped by a Portland player in retaliation, Bourret’s penalty was the only one called on they play, setting the Pack up to finish the game shorthanded.
Desperate to generate offense despite being down a man, Gernander sent out some unusual forward pairs on the PK, including a pairing of Mike Ouellette and Anismov. For Anisimov it was only his second shift on the PK all season, with the first resulting in a shorthanded goal in a 10-1 thrashing of Springfield at the end of March. The decision almost paid off again, when Anismov was able to steal the puck off a Pirate player just inside the Pack blueline and feed it to Paretneau, who’d come on for Ouellette on a line change. Parenteau skated in on a partial breakaway, but was stopped by Aubin. Parenteau then retreived his own rebound and put it back in front of the net, where Anisimov and another Pack player fought to get a stick on it. Aubin was able to freeze the puck, but not before the Pack had drawn a penalty with just 1:31 to go in the game. That allowed them to pull LeNeveu to get the 5-on-4 advantage for the remainder of the game. But the Pirates were once again able to hold them off, and take the 3-1 series stranglehold, sending the series back to Hartford for a potential series-clinching game 5 on Tuesday.
- Potter’s 3 minor penalties in this game give him 7 in four games in the series.
- Portland were 2 for 6 on the power play, and are 5 for 26 in the series.
- The Pack’s power play, which was ranked second in the league in the regular season, has gone only 2 for 22.
1. Bourret (1) (Moore) 11:03
1. Hutchinson (1) (Parenteau) 19:56
2. Parenteau (3) (Korpikoski, Baranka) 18:19 (PP)
Byers – Korpikoski – Parenteau
Jessiman – Moore – Bourret
Ouellette – Anisimov – Gratton
Lee – Pyatt – Owens
Pock – Taylor
Potter – Hutchinson
Baranka – Sanguinetti
LeNeveu / Wiikman
1. Stephen Dixon
2. Brett Festerling
3. Greg Moore
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