It wasn’t pretty, but the Hartford Wolf Pack picked up their second win of the weekend over the Worcester Sharks, holding on to defeat their division rivals 2-1 despite a string of third period penalties. It was the Pack’s fourth game in five days, and the win gave them seven of a possible eight points; the only blemish on the team’s best week of the year being Saturday night’s third period collapse against Springfield.
The Wolf Pack did all their scoring in the first period. Patrick Rissmiller picked up his second goal of the season when Devin DiDiomete sprang him and Greg Moore on a 2-on-1. Moore carried the puck into the offensive zone and fed a pass across to Rissmiller at the bottom of the right face off circle. The Belmont, MA native roofed a backhander over the glove hand of Worcester goaltender Thomas Greiss at 4:33 to give Hartford the early lead.
Just under ten minutes later, Jordan Owens scored his second goal in as many games — and fourth point in that time — with a strong individual effort. The second year pro bullied his way into the Sharks zone on right wing, backhanding a pass in front of the net for linemate Tommy Pyatt as he was falling to the ice. Owens’ pass deflected off the skate of Sharks defenseman Jason Demers and past Griess, allowing the Pack to take a 2-0 first period lead for the third game in a row.
Worcester got on the board early in the second when winger Ryan Vesce stripped Justin Soryal of the puck in the neutral zone and fed it to Cory Larose. The Wolf Pack alumni skated in on Hartford netminder Matt Zaba as Moore glided alongside, doing little more than reaching out with his stick as Larose cut in and scored his twelfth of the season to cut the Pack’s lead to one.
After equalling the Pack in shots with nine in the first period, Worcester took a decided advantage in the second, outshooting Hartford 13-7. The shot advantage would be even more pronounced in the third period as referee Terry Koharski sent a string of Pack players to the penalty box beginning at 3:08 when Brodie Dupont was whistled for roughing. Moore followed 47 seconds after Dupont’s penalty expired, and Jared Nightengale joined him when he shot the puck over the glass for the delay of game penalty, giving the Sharks five seconds of 5-on-3 time. Hartford failed to convert on a power play opportunity of their own at 11:57, and then the penalty killers had to come up big once more, killing off a slashing penalty on Bobby Sanguinetti with just over three minutes remaining in the game. All that power play time resulted in a 14-3 shot advantage for the Sharks, who had all the quality chances in the period. Zaba came up big in his first start since letting four by him in Hershey last Saturday, stopping 35 of 36 shots to earn himself second star honors. Hartford put up just 19 shots in the game.
With the seven points they earned this week, the Pack are now a season-best two games over .500 and have moved into a tie with the Sharks for third place in the Atlantic Division with 30 points. That puts both teams just four points behind division-leading Providence. However, in the tightly contested division, they’re also just four points ahead of the basement-dwelling Devils.
- Wolf Pack leading scorer P.A. Parenteau was injured midway through the third period. He remained on the bench, but didn’t take another shift in the game. On a team that struggles to generate offense, losing Parenteau for any length of time could be devastating.
- The Pack penalty kill has given up just 1 goal in their last 28 times shorthanded.
- Hartford’s power play was scoreless in 10 attempts in their last two games after putting up three goals in six tries against Worcester on Friday.
- Nightengale’s selection as the game’s first star over Zaba or even Owens is somewhat baffling. Apart from an assist on Owens’ goal, Nightengale’s most notable play was putting his team down two men briefly when he fired the puck well over the glass in the third period.
1. Rissmiller (2) (Moore, DiDiomete) 4:33
1. Owens (4) (Nightingale, Ouellette) 14:14
2. Larose (12) (Vesce) 4:41
Rissmiller – Moore – Parenteau
Dupont – Anisimov – Weise
Pyatt – Ouellette – Owens
DiDiomete – Soryal – Stefanishion
Nightengale – Denisov
Urquhart – Sauer
Graham – Sanguinetti
Zaba / Wiikman
1. Jared Nightingale
2. Matt Zaba
3. Ryan Vesce
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