Potter Leads Pack Over Monsters
Saturday February 14th 2009, 3:00 am

Defenseman Corey Potter scored twice in just over a minute early in the second period and added an assist to lead the Hartford Wolf Pack over the visiting Lake Erie Monsters, 6-2, in Hartford on Friday night.  Goaltender Matt Zaba stopped 22 of 24 shots he faced, while Artem Anisimov, Patrick Rissmiller, and P.A. Parenteau all contributed a goal and an assist each.

Defensemen Bobby Sanguinetti and Vladimir Denisov each added two helpers apiece in the Pack’s most decisive victory since a 6-2 win over the Portland Pirates on November 22nd.

The Monsters looked their most dangerous in the first five minutes of the game, but the Pack soon took control, doubling up the visitors 16-8 on shots in the period.  It would take a power play and some extra effort for them to take their first lead, however.  That extra effort came from Anisimov, who temporarily took sole possession of the Wolf Pack goal scoring lead when he dove towards the crease to chip the rebound of Sanguinetti’s point shot over goaltender Jason Bacashihua’s shoulder for his 23rd of the season at 16:36.

Potter got the next two for the Pack, to break the game open early in the second period.  His first, at 4:17, came off a slap shot from the left point that made its way through a tangle bodies in front to beat Bacashihua.  His second came just 1:13 later.  With Hartford already on the power play and a delayed call coming up against Lake Erie, the third-year pro shoveled the puck towards the net from the right point in order to get a whistle and the two-man advantage.  But the weak shot handcuffed 26-year old Bacashihua, sneaking through him at 5:30.

Captain Greg Moore gave the Wolf Pack the 4-0 lead at 13:22.  Rookie Devin DiDiomete carried the puck down the left wing boards, throwing it on net from a sharp angle.  The rebound bounced out to the right side, where Moore was waiting to put it in the top corner for his sixteenth of the season.

Tempers flared 47 seconds later when veteran Matt Hendricks hit Brandon Sugden up high in front of the player benches.  The Pack heavyweight got up, shed his gloves, and charged after Hendricks, who was already tied up by Didiomete, before getting pulled off and throwing a couple punches at Cornell graduate Mark McCutcheon, who was also paired off with another player at the time.  Sugden earned a double minor for roughing and a ten minute misconduct, while three different Lake Erie players earned minors of their own, resulting in the Pack’s fifth power play of the game.  The home team was unable to cash in, finishing the period with the four goal lead after once again doubling up the visitors in shots, 14-7.

DiDiomete squared off against McCutcheon as the period ended, earning his fourth minor of the night in addition to five minutes for fighting.  DiDiomete won the fight, and his teammates killed off the extra two minutes at the start of the third.

Penalties would give the Monsters another chance to get on the board in the sixth minute of the period.  At 6:01 Denisov was whistled for charging — he lost the subsequent fight with Hendricks when Hendricks managed to get his jersey up over his head early — and five seconds later Mike Ouellette lofted a clearing attempt into the stands, earning the delay of game minor.  Tom Fritsche, younger brother of short-time Ranger Dan Fritsche, got credit for the 5-on-3 goal when his centering pass from the right corner deflected off Pack defenseman Michael Sauer, breaking Zaba’s shutout bid at 6:28.

With the teams skating four-on-four less then a minute and a half later, Rissmiller restored the four goal lead after Potter set him up for a wrist shot from the top of the circles that beat Bacashihua on the stick side.

Hartford picked up their third power play goal of the night in the final five minutes of the game.  Leading point-getter Parenteau tied Anisimov for the team lead in goals at 16:47 when he put the puck in the open side of the net off a beautiful passing play.  Anisimov started the play in the right circle, feeding the puck to Denisov just above the hash marks.  The Belorussian defenseman passed up the shot to feed Parenteau at the left post.  With the left side of the net wide open, it appeared that Parenteau put the puck off the post, and play continued despite the goal judge signaling goal.  When play stopped a few seconds later referee Shaun Davis conferred with the goal judge, ultimately ruling in favor of Parenteau’s 23rd tally of the season.

Lake Erie earned their second goal at 19:07 when DiDiomete cleared the rebound of Chris Durno’s shot past Zaba and into the goal.

Shots on goal in the period were even at nine apiece, reflecting some sloppy play on the part of the Pack more so than an improved effort on the part of the Monsters.  Bacashihua finished with 33 saves on 39 shots, while Zaba stopped 22 of 24, beat only by pucks that went in off his own teammates.  It was the first time the Pack had mustered more than 30 shots in the past seven games.

The victory, coupled by a win by Portland and loss by Providence leaves Providence in first place with 61 points and Portland and Hartford two back with 59.  Both Providence and Portland retain a game in hand over the Pack.  Worcester, with a loss to Portland, stays in the fourth position in the Atlantic Division, three points behind Hartford and Portland.  The Monsters fell to 21-27-1-5, leaving them tied for third worst record in the league.  Hartford, meanwhile, moved six games over .500 to 27-21-2-3.

The Wolf Pack will have the opportunity to avenge Wednesday’s loss to the Manitoba Moose on Saturday night, in what is expected to be Sean Avery’s Wolf Pack debut.

Video highlights are available from AHL Live.

Notes:

  • Potter lead all players in shots, setting a season-high mark for the Wolf Pack with 9, most coming in the second half of the game, when his teammates were obviously looking to get him the hat trick. It was his first 3-point performance since his rookie season in 2005-2006.
  • Rangers 2006 5th round pick Tomas Zaborsky made his AHL season debut after being called up from the Dayton Bombers of the ECHL on Thursday. The first-year pro, who played both center and left wing, finished with 2 shots, including one point blank chance which Bacashihua stopped and a +1 rating.
  • Defenseman David Urquhart sat the game out as a healthy scratch.
  • Anisimov’s power play goal was his 11th of the season, ranking him 7th in the AHL.  Parenteau’s was his 10th, putting him at 12th.  Parenteau remains tied for second in over-all scoring with former Wolf Pack and Ranger winger Alexandre Giroux with 60 points, while Anisimov holds 4th place with 56.  The pair are tied with Trevor Smith of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for 7th in AHL goals.
  • Rissmiller’s goal and assist give him 5 points (1 goal, 4 assists) in his last 3 games.
  • Moore’s goal gives him 3 points in his last 3 games (2 goals, 1 assist).
  • Denisov has 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists) in four games since returning to the line up on February 7.

Scoring:
1. Anisimov (23) (Sanguinetti, Parenteau) 16:36 (PP)
2. Potter (5) (Rissmiller) 4:17
2. Potter (6) (Sanguinetti, Pyatt) 5:30 (PP)
2. Moore (16) (DiDiomete, Denisov) 13:22
3. Fritsche (9) (Campbell) 6:28 (PP)
3. Rissmiller (6) (Potter, Sauer) 7:52
3. Parenteau (23) (Denisov, Anisimov) 16:47 (PP)
3. Durno (13) 19:03

Lines:
Dupont – Anisimov – Parenteau
Pyatt – Rissmiller – Weise
Zaborsky – Ouellette – Ford
DiDiomete – Moore – Sugden

Potter – Sanguinetti
Denisov – Sauer
Nightingale – Fahey

Zaba / Wiikman

Three Stars:
1. Corey Potter
2. Matt Zaba
3. Patrick Rissmiller

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