A week ago the Hartford Wolf Pack stole a 4-3 win in Manchester when they connected for two third period goals on only four shots. On Saturday they cashed in on three of just nine shots they put on the net through the first 44 minutes of play to defeat the floundering Springfield Falcons by a final score of 3-2.
Hartford’s 16 shots tied a franchise record low for shots on goal in a game set in their inaugural season a dozen years ago.
All three Wolf Pack goals game during special teams play. Two were scored with the team shorthanded, including the unassisted game-winner by first star Brodie Dupont at 3:58 of the third. With Artem Anisimov in the penalty box serving his second minor penalty of the game, Dupont poked the puck out of the Hartford zone and past Falcons defenseman Taylor Chorney, who stumbled, allowing the Hartford winger to skate in solo on Springfield netminder Devan Dubnyk. Dupont pulled the puck to his backhand as Dubnyk attempted the poke-check, and put it over the sprawling goalie for his tenth tally of the season. With the goal the unsung hero of the Pack’s leading line topped last year’s rookie marks of nine goals and 23 points.
Hartford’s first shorthanded goal of the night had come at 7:04 of the first period from an unlikely source. Belorussian defenseman Vladimir Denisov, who’s been the odd man out for three straight games and has missed 12 of the last 15 due to a combination of illness and healthy scratches, fired a snap shot over Dubnyk’s glove from just inside the Springfield blue line. The goal came while Corey Potter, fresh from Friday night’s debacle in Dallas with the Rangers, was serving one of two hooking penalties he was whistled for on the night.
Denisov’s shot was one of only four the Pack would muster through the first twenty minutes. At the other end of the ice, Matt Zaba made his fourth consecutive start, and stopped all nine first period shots he faced.
The shot differential would only get worse in the second session. As it was on Wednesday against the Monarchs, the second period proved troublesome for the Pack in Springfild, as they allowed 16 shots on Zaba’s net while putting up only two of their own.
Two of Springfield’s second period shots would find their way past Zaba. The first came just 1:03 into the period when Guillaume Lefebvre came out of the right side corner with the puck and fed Wethersfield, CT native Colin McDonald in the right circle for a one-timer that beat Zaba high on the glove side.
Anisimov answered back for the Pack exactly four minutes later with a power play goal. P.A. Parenteau, who earned the lone assist on Denisov’s tally, picked up his second helper when he threaded a perfect pass through the crease to Anisimov, who was stationed off the right post. The 20-year old center had plenty of time to set himself and roof the puck over Dubnyk, regaining sole possession of the team lead in goals with his 22nd of the year.
The Falcons would get a power play goal of their own, on a 5-on-3, after Anisimov was whistled for hooking at 12:41 while killing a penalty called on Jared Nightingale 38 seconds earlier. Springfield leading scorer Ryan Potulny knotted the score at two when he put home the rebound of Viacheslav Trukhno’s shot from the right circle at 13:43.
That set the table for Dupont’s shorthanded game-winner early in the third. Once again the home team out shot the visitors in the final period, but by a less remarkable 12-10 margin. One of those Hartford shots came on a penalty shot that was awarded to Parenteau after he had his feet taken out from under him by former Pack defenseman Jake Taylor at 16:50 of the period. Parenteau was unable to elevate the puck on his penalty shot attempt, allowing Dubnyk to make the pad stop to hold Hartford’s lead at one. But Zaba was equal to the task, stopping everything the Falcons threw at him in the closing minutes of the game.
Dubyk finished the game with 13 saves on 16 shots, while Zaba earned third star honors by stopping 35 of 37 shots he faced. With his recent strong play, Zaba has eclipsed Hartford number one goaltender Mikka Wiikman, who remains out with an undisclosed illness, in both goals against (2.72 to 2.74) and save percentage (.907 to .904).
Hartford’s third consecutive road win improved their record away from the XL Center to 10-10-2-1, bringing their road record to the .500 mark for the first time this season. With an over all record of 26-19-2-3 the Wolf Pack now have 57 points, good for sole possession of second place in the Atlantic Division, two points back of Providence and one ahead of Worcester. Springfield is wallowing in last place in the division with a 16-26-6-1 record for 39 points, just a point ahead of the Rochester Americans for last place in the league.
Hartford travels to Lowell on Sunday to face the baby Devils, who currently rank fifth in the Atlantic with 50 points and two games in hand.
- Parenteau’s two assists give him 57 points in 50 games and move him into a tie for third over all in AHL scoring with former Wolf Pack forward Alexandre Giroux. He has seven points in his last three games, and 24 in his last 14. The Pack’s leading point-getter has only been held off the scoreboard once in that span.
- Anisimov’s goal gives him 22 on the season, good for eight in the league. His 52 points in 50 games puts him in a three-way tie for fourth place in AHL scoring. His 10 power play goals tie him for seventh in the league.
- Jordan Owens appears to have suffered an injury in the game, though it’s not clear when or what it might have been. He didn’t play in the final period of the game, and missed a good chunk, if not the entire second period.
- Matt Stefanishion returned to the line-up after missing the Pack’s last game and four of the last five as a healthy scratch. Matthew Ford took his seat in the press box as a healthy scratch. David Urquhart joined him to pave the way for Denisov’s return.
1. Denisov (2) (Parenteau) 7:04 (SH)
2. McDonald (4) (Lefebvre, Spurgeon) 1:03
2. Anisimov (22) (Parenteau, Sanguinetti) 5:03 (PP)
2. Potulny (21) (Trukhno, Schremp) 13:43 (PP)
3. Dupont (10) 3:58 (SH)
Dupont – Anisimov – Parenteau
Owens – Rissmiller – Stefanishion
Pyatt – Ouellette – Weise
DiDiomete – Moore – Sugden
Potter – Sauer
Denisov – Fahey
Nightingale – Sanguinetti
Zaba / Daigneault
1. Brodie Dupont
2. Colin McDonald
3. Matt Zaba
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