Hartford Tops Providence to Move Within Two Points of First Place
Thursday December 18th 2008, 12:44 am

A week ago the Hartford Wolf Pack shut out the Atlantic Division-leading Providence Bruins to start a string of four games in five nights from which they took seven of a possible eight points. Tonight they hosted the Bruins again, anxious to prove their best week of the season wasn’t a fluke. Thanks to their specialty teams, they did just that, defeating Providence 3-2 on the strength of two shorthanded goals and a power play tally. The win gave Hartford sole possession of third place in the division, just one point behind second place Portland and two points behind Providence.

It took the Wolf Pack almost seven minutes to get their first shot on goal in a scoreless first period in which neither team generated many quality scoring chances. But action heated up early in the second period. Providence pressured early, drawing two consecutive penalties in the first 2:34 of play. Just 13 seconds into the second penalty Patrick Rissmiller scored the Pack’s first shorthanded goal after Brodie Dupont forced a turnover that trickled in on Bruin goaltender Tuukka Rask. The Finnish netminder misplayed the puck, allowing Rissmiller to steal it, skate behind the net and wrap it around the far post before the Rask could recover. It was the Pack’s second shorthanded goal of the season and Rissmiller’s second goal in as many games.

Hartford took the 2-0 lead on the power play at 7:19 of the period. Artem Anisimov won the puck in the left corner and threaded a pass out to Rissmiller in the left circle. Rissmiller fed the puck across the slot to a pinching David Urquhart, who beat Rask on the glove side for his second goal of the season.

Providence would pick up a power play goal of their own 6:22 later after Devin DiDiomete put his team down two men with an ill-advised penalty. With Matt Stefanishion already headed to the box, DiDiomete picked his second fight of the night, earning an additional two minutes for roughing with his efforts. Patient puck movement on Providence’s part ultimately lead to Martin St. Pierre feeding the puck from the right corner to a wide-open Jeff Penner at the top of the circles. The Providence defenseman wristed a shot over Pack goaltender Miika Wiikman’s shoulder to cut the Pack’s lead back to one.

Midway through the third the Bruins tied the game up with their second power play goal of the night. Providence defenseman Johnny Boychuk fired a booming slapshot from the right point which Wiikman stopped, but couldn’t control. In the battle that ensued in front of the net Peter Shaefer was able to find the puck and bang it past the Pack starter for his third goal of the season.

The Bruins went back on the power play a short time later when Vladimir Denisov took his second minor of the game. This time, as Boychuk attempted another slap shot from the point, his stick snapped, allowing Dupont to steal the puck and break out on a 2-on-1 with Greg Moore. Dupont fed Moore on the right wing and the third-year pro carried the puck into the Providence zone, where fired a snap shot from the right circle for his ninth of the season and the eventual game-winner with just 4:58 remaining.

Notes:

  • None of the five goals in the game were scored at even strength. Both Providence goals came on the power play, while Hartford picked up a power play goal and two shorthaded tallies.
  • Anisimov was injured early in the third period when he fell awkwardly after taking a hit in the offensive zone. He left the ice cradling his arm, and after stopping briefly at the bench, went to the locker room with trainer Damian Hess. He returned about 10 minutes later and finished the game, but lined up on left wing rather than his usual center position on at least one of his remaining shifts.
  • Rissmiller’s goal and assist give him 16 points in his 14 games in Hartford.
  • Anisimov’s assist ties him with P.A. Parenteau for the team lead with 26 points in 29 games. The two are tied for 22nd in league scoring.
  • DiDiomete’s two fights were uneventful affairs with no real winner or loser. Justin Soryal, on the other hand, won a clear decision over Ryan Stokes, bloodying the Providence defenseman in the process
  • The Pack have earned points in a season-high five straight games.
  • Toronto General Manager Brian Burke attended the game and was a guest with Pack play-by-play man Bob Crawford between periods.

Scoring:
2. Rissmiller (3) (Dupont) 2:47 (SH)
2. Urquhart (3) (Rissmiller, Anisimov) 7:19 (PP)
2. Penner (4) (St. Pierre, Karsums) 13:51 (PP)
3. Schaefer (3) (Boychuk, St. Pierre) 10:14 (PP)
3. Moore (9) (Dupont) 15:02 (SH)

Lines:
DiDiomete – Moore – Steffanision
Dupont – Rissmiller – Parenteau
Soryal – Anisimov – Weise
Pyatt – Ouellette – Owens

Nightengale – Denisov
Urquhart – Sauer
Graham – Sanguinetti

Wiikman / Zaba

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