The Hamilton Bulldogs made the most of lax defensive play and mental errors on the part of the Hartford Wolf Pack on Saturday, improving their league-best road record to 11-3-1-0 by defeating the Pack, 6-2 in Hartford. The regulation loss brought an end to the Pack’s season-high streak of five games in which they’d earned at least one standings point.
The Wolf Pack fell behind early, spotting the Bulldogs a 3-1 first period lead. A wide-open Chad Anderson gave the visitors their first goal at 9:12 of the period when he took a feed from former Ranger prospect Ryan Russell in the right circle and beat Wolf Pack netminder Miika Wiikman on the glove side. The goal came with the Pack scrambling in their own zone, having failed to recover when Hamilton turned a good scoring chance by P.A. Parenteau into a transition rush.
The Pack’s fourth line of Tommy Pyatt, Mike Ouellette, and Jordan Owens — easily their best threesome over the recent 5-game points streak — tied the game four minutes later. Pyatt controlled the puck in the left corner and fed Owens at the hashmarks, where the Toronto native fired blistering wrist shot past Hamilton starter Cedrick Desjardins for his fifth goal of the season and third in the past four games.
Hamilton re-took the lead less than a minute and a half later when Yanick Lehoux won an offensive zone draw back to defenseman Alex Henry at the left point. Henry snapped a floating shot towards the goal through a tangle of bodies for his first goal of the season.
The Bulldogs got their third goal of the period at 15:38. Yannick Weber fired a slapshot from the right point which Wiikman stopped, directing the rebound to the left corner. Brock Trotter was waiting for it at the side of the net, uncovered. The 21-year old showed patience, holding on to the puck to put it under Wiikman when he dove across to try to make a save.
The prettiest goal of the night came at 4:51 of the second period when Connecticut native Max Pacioretty faked Pack defenseman Vladimir Denisov out of his skates at the Hartford blueline. Denisov stepped up as Pacioretty crossed the line, but the Canadiens’ 2007 1st round pick put the puck through the Belorussian’s skates and picked it up on the other side, feeding it across to David Desharnais in the right circle for the easy put-home.
Hamilton only managed to put four shots on goal in the second period, but two of them ended up in the net. The second came on a 4-on-3 power play with just 36 seconds remaining in the period. Off another offensive zone faceoff win, defenseman Mathieu Carle fed the puck across to Desharnais at the right point. Desharnais had plenty of room to skate in to the top of the circle and fire a shot past Wiikman through a screen.
Matt Zaba replaced Wiikman in goal to start the third period, and coach Ken Gernander shook up his lines in an effort to generate more offense. The changes immediately paid dividends as Parenteau scored his 12th of the season and first in eight games by stealing the puck behind the Hamilton net and wrapping it around the left post.
That was as close as the Pack would get. At 17:33 a turnover at the Hartford blueline by David Urquhart allowed Lehoux to skate in alone and beat Zaba, who, like Wiikman in the second period, faced only four shots in the third. At the other end of the ice, Desjardin was spectacular, turning away 26 of 28 Hartford shots.
Highlights from the game are available from AHL Live.
- Pack left wing Brodie Dupont was caught with his head down in the offensive zone midway through the second period and got rocked by a shoulder to the jaw. He struggled to get to his feet and make it back to the bench and did not return. Dupont missed 15 games with a concussion last season.
- Heavyweights Brandon Sugden (6-4, 233) and Ryan Flinn (6-5, 230) faced off at 15:13 of the first period. After a tentative start as the two felt each other out, both players started firing away with right-hand bombs. Sugden landed a number of his, forcing Flinn to his knees and winning a clear decision.
- Hamilton was missing three of its top four scorers to injury or call-ups.
- After getting outshot 20-18 in the first, the Wolf Pack outshot Hamilton 11-4 and 12-4 in the second and third periods, respectively. Desjardins was extremely strong in goal for the Bulldogs, particularly in the third when the Pack generated a number of quality scoring chances.
- Bobby Sanguinetti’s 17 points rank him 8th in the league in scoring by defensemen, and second amongst rookie defensemen. However, he was a minus-2 in the game, pushing his team worst plus/minus rating to -10.
1. Anderson (3) (Russell, Glumac) 9:12
1. Owens (5) (Ouellette, Pyatt) 13:18
1. Henry, (1) (Lehoux) 14:30
1. Trotter (6) (Weber, Latendresse) 15:38
2. Desharnais (7) (Pacioretty) 4:51
2. Desharnais (8) (Carle, Pacioretty) 19:24 (PP)
3. Parenteau (12) 1:13
3. Lehoux (8) 17:33
Dupont – Rissmiller – Parenteau
DiDiomete – Moore – Sugden
Soryal – Anisimov – Weise
Pyatt – Ouellette – Owens
Denisov – Nightengale
Graham – Sanguinetti
Urquhart – Sauer
Wiikman / Zaba
1. David Desharnais
2. Max Pacioretty
3. Cedrick Desjardins
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