Two weekends ago Artem Anisimov scored in overtime to give the Hartford Wolf Pack a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Springfield Falcons at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. On Friday night he returned to the scene of the crime and did it again, breaking a scoreless tie at 3:05 of extra time to boost the Pack’s record to 19-15-2-3, tying them with the Portland Pirates for second place in the Atlantic Division with 43 points.
Matt Zaba was stellar in net, earning his first ever AHL shut out while making a Wolf Pack season-high 40 saves in the game.
The two teams played a conservative first period, limiting quality scoring chances and sharing attack-zone time pretty evenly, despite the Falcon’s 9-6 advantage in shots.
That the Falcons remembered Anisimov’s December 28th heroics was obvious by how physically they played him. The tactic almost backfired, however, as Anisimov drew all three Springfield penalties in the second period. As he would through three periods of regulation, goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, in Springfield on a conditioning assignment from the parent Edmonton Oilers, held the recently-revitalized Pack power play off the board on all three opportunities in the period and eight in the game.
On the other side of the ice, the Falcons got some of their best scoring chances during a two-minute, two-man advantage starting at 18:59 of the second period when Brodie Dupont was whistled for high sticking during a delayed diving call on P.A. Parenteau. Zaba proved to be the Pack’s best penalty killer, holding Springfield off through the full two minutes. Hartford’s penalty kill, which has gone three straight games without surrendering a goal against (in 19 opportunities), went 8-for-8 in the game, improving to 13th in the league at 83.1% and seventh on the road at 84.8%.
Both teams hit iron in the third period. In the closing seconds of a penalty called on Springfield’s Colin McDonald at 2:32, Brodie Dupont fired a three-shot flurry at Deslauriers, the last of which clanged off the right post.
It looked like the Falcons had broken the deadlock on a power play at 12:34 when referee Ryan Fraser initially ruled that a puck that rang off the crossbar actually went in the net. After consultation with his linesmen, he reversed his call and ruled no goal. A slow-motion replay on the game broadcast clearly showed that it was the correct call.
Less than a minute later, just after the Wolf Pack penalty to Jared Nightengale expired, Deslauriers was forced to make his best save of the game on a point-blank shot from in close by Parenteau.
Hartford, which played back-to-back games in Winnipeg on Tuesday and Wednesday, looked a little leg weary late in the game, and the Falcons, who hadn’t played since Sunday, took the play to them in the final minutes. But Zaba held them off, setting up the fourth trip to overtime in five games between the two teams this season.
Zaba made the save of the game early in the extra frame when he stoned Carl Corazzini on point-blank chance from the slot after Wolf Pack defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti lost track of the veteran winger in front of the net. That set up Anisimov’s heroics just over a minute later.
A feed from Parenteau to defenseman Brian Fahey deflected up the boards to Anisimov, who was covering the right point. Anisimov controlled the puck and skated off the boards and in on net, ripping a wrist shot over Deslauriers’ glove from just above the hash marks for his team-leading 17th goal of the season and the Pack’s second dramatic overtime win over the Falcons in two weeks.
Deslauriers finished the game with 29 saves, earning second star honors. Zaba earned first star billing with the 40-save shutout. It was the first time in five meetings between the two teams that the game didn’t end with a 4-3 final score.
- The Pack have alternated win-loss-win-loss over the past eleven games (with a few OT losses thrown in the mix for good measure). If they stick to that schedule, we should expect a loss when they travel to Bridgeport to face the baby Islanders, who are tied with the Manitoba Moose for fourth in the league, tomorrow.
- With an assist on Anisimov’s goal, Parenteau moved into 9th place in league scoring with 39 points in 39 games. He has 13 points (4 goals, 9 assists) in his last 10 games.
- Anisimov remained one point behind Parenteau for the team lead in points with his goal, and moved into 12th place in league scoring with 38 points in 39 games. His 17 goals rank him 11th in the league. He’s put up 12 points (6 goals, 6 assists) in his last 9 games.
- Fahey fought Springfield winger Hans Benson at 8:59 of the first period. Benson headed for the locker room afterward with an unspecified injury and did not return to the game.
- Dupont and Springfield defenseman Mike Gabinet dropped the gloves at the conclusion of the third period, but neither connected with a solid punch before linesmen broke up their extended wrestling session.
OT. Anisimov (17) (Parenteau, Fahey) 3:05
Dupont – Anisimov – Parenteau
Pyatt – Ouellette – Owens
Rissmiller – Moore – Weise
DiDiomete – Stefanishion – Soryal
Potter – Sanguinetti
Nightingale – Fahey
Urquhart – Sauer
Zaba / Wiikman
1. Matt Zaba
2. Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers
3. Artem Anisimov
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