In a game they had no business winning, the Hartford Wolf Pack defeated the Portland Pirates 3-2 in overtime in Hartford on Wednesday night. Miika Wiikman, with 30 saves, earned his third consecutive first star designation and was the primary reason the Pack were able to post their third win in as many games.
The Wolf Pack got off to a good enough start, earning the first two power play opportunities of the game, including 47 seconds of 5-on-3 time, during which Portland goaltender Adam Dennis was forced to stop a breakaway on Hartford winger Dane Byers. But, as they have so often in this young season, the Pack failed to convert on the man advantage, and then were whistled for the next three penalties. Portland took advantage of the first, when Colin Murphy was able to put a shallow rebound off Chris Butler’s point shot between Wiikman’s legs to give the visitors the 1-0 lead.
The Pack killed the second two of the three penalties off, and at 14:52 of the first rookie Dale Weise got a stick on Vladimir Denisov’s point shot, slowing it to a crawl and handcuffing Dennis, who could only watch as it trickled past him into the net, knotting the score at one. Greg Moore was credited with the secondary assist, one of two helpers he earned in the game.
Just over three minutes later rookie Justin Soryal gave the Pack the lead after Artem Anisimov spotted him coming off the bench on a line change. Anisimov, deep in the right corner, fed Soryal as he crossed the blue line undetected. Soryal was able to skate in to the top of the face off circle, were he whistled a snap shot over Dennis’ shoulder for his first professional goal.
That, basically, was the last positive thing the Pack did for the next 45 minutes of playing time.
In the second period, the Pack were soundly out-played by the Pirates, getting trapped in the defensive zone for long stretches of time, routinely losing races for the puck, taking too many penalties and spotting the Pirates an 11-3 advantage in shots, forcing Wiikman to make a number of quality saves.
The third period didn’t start much better, and, in fact, the Wolf Pack didn’t register a shot until after the 11 minute mark of the period, when they were awarded 1:24 of 5-on-3 power play time. By that time they’d already surrendered their second power play goal of the game, after Bobby Sanguinetti took his second minor penalty of the game and 5 foot 6 inch Pirate rookie Nathan Gerbe was able to walk around Potter and in on Wiikman, tying the score on the man advantage.
Sanguinetti almost redeemed himself by drawing the next penalty, which turned into the two-man advantage 36 seconds later, but once again the Pack were unable to cash in, and the teams were headed to overtime.
Hartford finished the game 0 for 6 on the power play, giving them a season mark of 5 for 45 with the man advantage, or 11%. The shot advantage in the third once again went to Portland, though by a somewhat more respectable 9-6 margin.
In the extra frame, following some sloppy, frustrating play on their own side of center ice, the Wolf Pack managed to set up in the Portland zone, and after a nice keep-in by Brian Fahey, Moore fed Byers in the left face off circle. With plenty of time, Byers was able to wind up and fire a blistering slap shot past Dennis before the Portland goalie could even flinch, giving the Pack their improbable win.
For Fahey it was his first point as a member of the Wolf Pack. Byers’ goal was his fourth in 8 games, giving him the team lead in goals. Anisimov’s first period assist gave him 6 points in 8 games, tops on the team.
Video highlights are available from AHL Live.
- Brandon Sugden missed the game after injuring his thumb in a fight with Kevin Westgarth on Saturday.
- Sugden’s absence allowed Hugh Jessiman to return to the line up after missing two games as a healthy scratch.
- Lauri Korpikoski, re-assigned to Hartford by the Rangers on Wednesday afternoon, did not dress.
- Rangers general manager Glen Sather attended the game.
1. Weise (2) (Denisov, Moore) 14:52
1. Soryal (1) (Anisimov, Murray) 18:00
OT. Byers (4) (Moore, Fahey) 3:16
Byers – Pyatt – Parenteau
Dupont – Anisimov - Weise
Owens – Moore – Soryal
DiDiomete – Ouellette – Jessiman
Potter – Sanguinetti
Fahey – Denisov
Graham – Murray
Wiikman / Zaba
1. Miika Wiikman
2. Dane Byers
3. Nathan Gerbe
No Comments so far
Leave a comment
Leave a comment