Short two of their top blueliners, the Hartford Wolf Pack rode team defense to a convincing shutout victory over the Providence Bruins in Hartford on Wednesday night. It was the Pack’s first shutout of the season, and the first for starting goaltender Miika Wiikman, who faced just 15 shots in the game.
Defenseman Jared Nightengale, called up from Charlotte earlier in the day to fill in for Corey Potter, who remains with the parent New York Rangers, and Brian Fahey, who suffered a concussion in Saturday’s 4-2 loss in Hershey, scored the game winner on his first AHL shot of the season at 7:04 of the second period.
Hartford set the tone early, registering nine of the first ten shots on goal through the first half of the opening period. They held the Bruins to just four shots in the frame, though two were point-blank shots that required good saves by Wiikman, who was back between the pipes after giving up 6 goals on 25 shots in Philadelphia on Friday. Wiikman’s best save of the game came at the end of the second period when he stoned Providence captain Jeremy Reich on a breakaway after Pack foward P.A. Parenteau coughed up the puck at the offensive blue line. It was only Providence’s third shot in the period. The Wolf Pack outshot the Bruins 12-3 in the second, giving them a 25-7 shot advantage over the first 40 minutes.
Nightengale had gotten the Pack on the board at 7:04 of the second when he took a pass from Jordan Owens at the center blue line and fired a slap shot that beat Providence netminder Tuukka Rask through a screen.
Providence turned up the heat in the third, matching Hartford with eight shots and earning their only two power play opportunities of the game after the Pack had drawn the first five. Hartford’s penalty killing was strong, killing off both.
The Pack earned their final man advantage when Bruins leading scorer Martin St. Pierre was whistled for retaliating against a bump from Parenteau at 19:17 of the third period. Greg Moore completed the scoring at 19:38 with an empty net, power play marker, his seventh of the season.
It was probably the Pack’s most complete, 60-minute effort of the season, and hopefully a good starting point for the four-game-in-five-night stretch that will see them play three more games against Atlantic Division rivals this weekend.
Highlights from the game are available courtesy of AHL Live.
- Patrick Rissmiller moved from wing to center, and also played the point on the power play.
- A number of representatives from the Rangers organization were in attendance, including Adam Graves.
- The Wolf Pack signed Brandon Sugden to an AHL contract on Tuesday. The contract replaces the professional tryout contract he’s been playing on since the start of the season. Sugden was a healthy scratch for tonight’s game.
- The Wolf Pack released Matthew Ford from his professional tryout contract. Ford will return to Charlotte, where he had 11 points in 6 games to earn the call up. He had one goal and 6 penalty minutes in 12 games in Hartford.
- Voting for the 2009 AHL All Star Game starting line up has begun. The game and skills competition, which pit the best Canadians in the league against a squad of the top Americans and Europeans, are scheduled for January 25-26 at the DCU Center in Worcester.
2. Nightingale (1) (Owens, Denisov) 7:04
3. Moore (7) (Rissmiller) 19:38 (EN/PP)
Dupont – Rissmiller – Parenteau
DiDiomete – Moore – Stefanishion
Soryal – Anisimov – Weise
Pyatt – Ouellette – Owens
Urquhart – Sauer
Graham – Sanguinetti
Nightengale – Denisov
Wiikman / Zaba
1. Jared Nightingale
2. Jordan Owens
3. Miika Wiikman
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