Power Play Not Enough to Lead Pack Over Phantoms
Saturday December 06th 2008, 1:30 am

The Hartford Wolf Pack’s power play exploded for 3 goals in 4 tries on Friday night, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a 6-3 loss to the Philadelphia Phantoms in Philly.  Hartford outshot the home team 41-25, rallying from a 3-1 deficit to tie the game in the third period, but a series of defensive breakdowns ultimately cost them the game and knocked them back into last place in the Atlantic Division after both Springfield and Manchester won their Friday night games.

Artem Anisimov scored two of the Pack’s three goals, giving him four goals in his last three games and eight in his last eight matches.  He’s picked up points in all but two of his last fourteen games, putting up nine goals and seven assists for 16 points in the span.

The two teams played a scoreless first period, punctuated by two fights.  In the first, a match-up between Devin DiDiomete and Josh Beaulieu, both participants landed a number of haymakers in an evenly-contested bout before Beaulieu was able to knock DiDiomete off balance.  The second, a seeming mis-match, ended with 6-foot, 190-pound rookie Matt Clackson pulling 6-4, 233-pound Brandon Sugden’s jersey over his head after a brief wrestling match in which neither player landed any significant blows.

The Phantoms opened the scoring at 1:19 of the second period when Flyer’s first round pick Claude Giroux got behind Hartford defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti and skated in on a partial breakaway.  Wolf Pack goaltender Miika Wiikman made the initial save on Giroux, but center Jared Ross followed up the play and put the rebound in the open side of the net.

Anisimov got the Pack’s first power play goal just under nine minutes into the period when he took a feed from P.A. Parenteau from behind the goal line for a point blank shot from the crease. Philadelphia goalie Scott Munroe made the initial stop, but Anisimov found his own rebound in the ensuing scrum and put it behind the 26-year old netminder.

The Phantom’s re-took the lead two minutes later when Vladimir Denisov lost the puck to Ross just inside the Pack blue line.  The night’s eventual first star scored his second of the game with a wrist shot from the right face off circle.  Boyd Kane gave the Phantoms the 2-goal lead a minute later when he was left uncovered down low and took Giroux’s feed to beat Wiikman from just off the right post.

The Pack have shown some impressive resilience in recent games, and tonight was no different.  With 1:40 remaining in the second period, Brodie Dupont scored his second goal in as many games to cut the lead back down to one.  The goal came with just three seconds remaining on a Wolf Pack power play when Dupont was able to tuck the rebound of a Michael Sauer point shot behind Munroe.

The comeback continued in the third, when Anisimov knotted the score at three with a deflection on Patrick Rissmiller’s one-timer from the point at 6:43.

That’s as far as the Pack’s comeback would go, however, as they gave up three goals over a 4:38 span, starting at 9:18 of the final frame.  The first came off a goalmouth scramble in which all five Wolf Pack players collapsed on the net, leaving Giroux all alone at the hashmarks when the puck popped loose.  The game’s second star had all the time in the world to pick his spot through the tangle of bodies.

A minute and a half later Philly cashed in on a fortuitous bounce when a dump-in deflected off the side boards out in front of the net, where Patrick Maroon was able to backhand it on Wiikman.  Wiikman kicked out a juicy rebound that David Laliberte wristed high on the Swedish-born netminder for the 5-3 lead.

The final goal of the game came on a penalty shot after Sanguinetti hauled down Jonathan Matsumoto on a partial breakway.  On the ensuing penalty shot, Matsumoto deked to his backhand before shifting to his forehand and roofing a shot over a sprawling Wiikman, who stopped just 19 of 25 shots in the game.

Notes:

  • I missed Wednesday night’s come-from-behind overtime win in Bridgeport in favor of the Rangers game, but you can read more about it here and here.
  • The Pack’s power play is 5 for 9 over the last two games. While it’s still converting at less than 18%, its improved to 13th place in the AHL, after being as low as 24th.
  • Defenseman Sauer has 6 points (2 goals, 4 assists) in 11 games since returning from ACL surgery. He scored just 11 points in 71 games last season.
  • Defenseman Brian Fahey has 5 points (1 goal, 4 assists) over his last 4 games.
  • Sugden returned to the line-up after a game as a healthy scratch.  Matthew Ford sat in his place.
  • The line of Rissmiller – Anisimov – Parenteau and defense pairing of Sauer and Denisov were -3 on the night

Scoring:
2. Ross (7) (Giroux, Syvret) 1:19
2. Anisimov (9) (Parenteau, Sauer) 8:51 (PP)
2. Ross (8) (Clackson) 10:49
2. Kane (7) (Giroux, Syvret) 11:53
2. Dupont (5) (Sauer, Fahey) 18:20 (PP)
3. Anisimov (10) (Rissmiller, Sanguinetti) 6:43 (PP)
3. Giroux (10) (Kane, Ross) 9:18
3. Laliberte (6) (Maroon) 11:51
3. Matsumoto (10) 13:56 (PEN/SH)

Lines:
Dupont – Moore – Weise
Rissmiller – Anisimov – Parenteau
DiDimoete – Pyatt – Sugden
Owens – Oullette – Soryal

Potter – Sanguinetti
Denisov – Sauer
Graham – Fahey

Wiikman / Zaba

Three Stars:
1. Jared Ross
2. Claude Giroux
3. Artem Anisimov

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