Special Teams Cost the Wolf Pack in Grand Rapids
Saturday November 15th 2008, 11:28 am

The Hartford Wolf Pack dropped their first ever game against the Grand Rapid Griffins on Friday by the final score of 3-2. Once again special teams and undisciplined play cost the Pack points, as they went 0-for-5 with the man advantage while surrendering two goals on seven Grand Rapids opportunities. With the loss, the Pack’s record dropped to 6-6-0-1, fourth in the AHL’s Atlantic Division.

Hartford struck first in the game, seconds short of the seven minute mark of the first period when P.A. Parenteau scored his team-leading 6th goal of the season off a snapshot from the slot after strong board work by Patrick Rissmiller and Artem Anisimov. The game was Rissmiller’s first for the Pack, after being sent to the club by the parent New York Rangers on a conditioning assignment on Wednesday.

A few more familiar faces joined the Pack lineup last night. Most notable among them was defenseman Michael Sauer, who returned after off-season reconstructive knee surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered in game two of the Pack’s first round playoff series with Portland last April. He was solid in his season debut, playing on the top defensive pairing with Corey Potter. Brian Fahey also made his return, having missed three games with a concussion that came as the result of an unpenalized elbow during the Wolf Pack’s Halloween match-up with Worcester. And rookie Dale Weise returned after missing one game with an undisclosed injury resulting from a collision with teammate Justin Soryal in a separate game against Worcester last Friday.

The Griffins had the better of scoring opportunities in the first, repeatedly beating Hartford defensemen one-on-one to break in on goaltender Miika Wiikman alone. A combination of sharp play by Wiikman and fortunate misplays and wide shots by Detroit’s farmhands allowed the Pack to retain the 1-0 lead until the final two minutes of the period, when a point shot pin-balled off at least one Pack defenseman before trickling past an unsuspecting Wiikman. When the buzzer sounded ending the period Grand Rapids held only a 10-8 lead in shots, but a wide edge in quality scoring opportunities.

But the Pack came out strong in the second and took the lead only a 1:05 into the period when Parenteau fed Greg Moore from behind the goal line to the left of the net. Moore made a nice move to cut across the crease and beat Griffins goaltender Jimmy Howard, a good friend and former teammate, on the far side.

The Pack were whistled for the first three penalties of the game, and the third one, an interference call on defenseman Ethen Graham, cost them when a screened blast from the top of the right circle by Darren Helm tipped off Wiikman’s glove and into the top corner of the net at 6:31. The two teams finished the period knotted at two, with the Griffins once again having the edge in shots, 13-9.

Despite earning four of the next six power play opportunities, the Pack were unable to re-take the lead, and would go on to finish the game 0-for-5 with the man advantage, dropping to 25th of the 29-team league on the power play. Their record on the PK is similarly dismal, having surrendered 2-in-7 in the game, and 16 goals in 86 attempts on the season, which ranks 22nd in the league.

Two of those power play opportunities for Grand Rapids started at 9:07 of the third period after Weise was whistled for goaltender interference and earned himself an extra two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct after disputing the referee’s decision too vehemently. Jakub Kindl scored the eventual game-winner midway through the second of the two minors to give the Griffins the 3-2 lead. The Pack got one more opportunity on the power play in the period, but it came with no results. Grand Rapids finished the period with a 7-5 edge in shots, for a final tally of 30-22.

Video highlights are available from AHL Live.  For the Grand Rapid’s view of the game, see MLive.com. The Hartford Courant offered no report on the game.

Notes:

  • It was the first ever meeting of the two teams, and the first time the Griffins have ever faced and Atlantic Division foe.
  • The Pack lead the league in penalty minutes per game with 29.4.
  • Moore has goals in each of the past two games, and three in his last four

Pack Scoring:
1. Parenteau (6) (Rissmiller, Anisimov) 6:53
2. Moore (3) (Dupont, Parenteau) 1:05

Lines:
Rissmiller – Anisimov – Parenteau
Dupont – Moore – Weise
Owens – Pyatt – Ford
Soryal – Ouellette – Sugden

Potter – Sauer
Denisov – Sanguinetti
Graham – Fahey

Wiikman / Zaba

Three Stars:
1. Jakub Kindl
2. Darren Helm
3. Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau

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