The Hartford Wolf Pack made their first trip to western Canada in five years on Tuesday, and came away with a 6-3 victory in the first of back-to-back games against the Manitoba Moose. Specialty teams proved the difference, as Hartford struck for three goals in six attempts with the man advantage while killing off five Manitoba power play opportunities. Thirteen different Wolf Pack players got on the scoreboard, with Artem Anisimov scoring two first period goals, P.A. Parenteau registering three assists and Corey Potter adding a goal and assist to lead the Pack to their second decisive victory over a top Western Conference foe in the last three games.
Early on it looked like the Pack might be suffering the after-effects of their cushy flight to Winnipeg on the Rangers’ and Knicks’ team plane, but a fight between Brandon Sugden and Guillaume Desbiens at 7:18 seemed to give the team the jump start they needed. Sugden was the clear victor in the brief bout, pulling Desbiens jersey over his head and landing a few shots before the linesmen jumped in.
At 10:29 Anisimov scored the first of his two power play goals when the rebound of Parenteau’s shot from the left circle found its way right on to his stick for the easy put-home into the open side of the net.
The second-year pro, who’s likely to be announced as a member of the Planet USA AHL All-Star team on Wednesday, added his second power play tally five and a half minutes later when Potter found him below the goal line with a pass from the right point. Anisimov fired a centering pass towards the slot, looking for Manitoba native Brody Dupont, but the puck deflected off starting goaltender Karl Goehring and into the net before Dupont could get a stick on it. The goal was Anisimov’s 16th of the season, tying his output from last year, with more than half the season still remaining. It extended his current point-scoring streak to seven games, tying the Wolf Pack season high he set in November.
Greg Moore got his second goal in as many games to make it 3-0 at 5:33 of the second period. Justin Soryal carried the puck into the Moose zone on a 3-on-1 and fed Moore, who sent a wrist shot off the lone Manitoba defenseman’s stick from the left circle, fooling Goehring on the far side. A loud cheer could be heard in the crowd as Winnepeg native Dale Weise’s name was announced for the secondary assist.
Potter tallied Hartford’s third power play goal of the night at 7:07 when he took a cross-ice pass from Parenteau as he cut down from the right point and put the puck in the near side top corner. The goal chased Goehring to the bench, bringing in Cory Schneider in relief.
Schneider held the Pack off the board through the remainder of the second period, but he couldn’t stop Wolf Pack forward Patrick Rissmiller when he stole the puck and used Maxime Fortunus as a screen after the Manitoba defenseman bobbled a back pass by one-time Ranger Jason Krog. For Rissmiller, it was his second goal in as many games; it came just 1:13 into the final frame.
But the Moose wouldn’t go quietly, striking for two goals in 60 seconds starting at 6:34. Veteran defenseman Nolan Baumgartner was able to skate in from the left side, breaking Wiikman’s shutout bid with a sharp-angle backhander from the bottom of the circle that snuck between the Swedish-born netminder and the near-side post.
Manitoba followed up at 7:34 when Desbiens took a pass from Krog, skated around Pack defenseman Brian Fahey, and deked forehand to backhand to beat Wiikman to the glove side and make it 5-3.
The line of Tommy Pyatt, Mike Ouellette and Jordan Owens gave the Pack back their 4-goal lead just past the halfway point of the period. Pyatt controlled the puck in the left corner, feeding Owens for a one-timer from the left circle. Schneider got a glove on it, but the puck bounced up in the air and dropped behind him, where Ouellette was waiting to tap it in the net before it even hit the ice. It was Ouellette’s fifth goal of the season, and third in the last four games.
The Moose would sneak one more past Wiikman with just 49 seconds remaining in the game. Desbiens scored his second of the night off a wrist shot from the left circle that beat Wiikman between the legs through a tangle of bodies.
Although he let in a couple sloppy goals late in the game, Wiikman was a huge part of the the Pack’s win, stopping 25 of 28 shots and stonewalling the Moose on multiple prime scoring opportunities through the first two periods, including a point-blank shot from the slot by Mark Derlago early in the second and a breakaway by Michel Ouellet later in the frame. On the other side, Goehring surrendered four goals on just 12 shots, while Schneider gave up two on nine shots.
The two teams meet again on Wednesday night in Winnepeg. The real test will be whether the Pack, who have faltered after big wins with disturbing regularity this season, can reprise Tuesday’s performance.
Highlights are available courtesy of the Manitoba Moose web site.
- Wiikman was hit in the left side of the jaw with a slap shot at 4:37 of the opening period and immediately dropped to the ice in pain. He was able to continue after he took a few minutes to collect himself and repairs were made to his mask, and seemed not the worse for wear.
- Soryal and Zack FitzGerald faced off in an epic bout midway through the third period. FitzGerald held his own, and got a few shots in early when Soryal’s arm got caught in his jersey. But Soryal was the clear victor, connecting with several heavy blows in the extended scrap.
- Sugden appeared to have been injured between the first and second Manitoba goals. He was shown briefly on camera away from the play, favoring his right leg as he skated to the bench. He did not take another shift.
- Dane Byers served as color commentator for the broadcast. The Pack winger said his recovery from ACL surgery is proceeding on schedule.
- Vladimir Denisov missed his third game with the flu. Matt Stefanishion was a healthy scratch.
- With three assists Parenteau tied Anisimov for the team lead in points, but Anisimov’s two goals put him ahead of the Parenteau for the lead in that category. The two players are tied for 10th overall in league scoring with 37 points in 37 games. Anisimov’s 16 goals rank him 13th in the league.
1. Anisimov (15) (Parenteau, Sanguinetti) 10:29 (PP)
1. Anisimov (16) (Potter, Parenteau) 16:05 (PP)
2. Moore (12) (Soryal, Weise) 5:33
2. Potter (3) (Parenteau, Sanguinetti) 7:07 (PP)
3. Rissmiller (5) 1:13
3. Baumgartner (3) (FitzGerald, Rallo) 6:34
3. Desbiens (8) (Krog, Ouellet) 7:34
3. Ouellette (5) (Owens, Pyatt) 10:15
3. Desbiens (9) (Fox) 19:11
Pyatt – Ouellette – Owens
Dupont – Anisimov – Parenteau
Soryal – Rissmiller – Weise
DiDiomete – Moore – Sugden
Potter – Sanguinetti
Urquhart – Sauer
Nightengale – Fahey
Wiikman / Zaba
1. Artem Anisimov
2. Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau
3. Corey Potter
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