P.A. Parenteau scored the lone goal in the shootout and Matt Zaba stopped 28 of 29 shots plus five more in the shootout to lead the Hartford Wolf Pack to a 2-1 victory over the Manchester Monarchs in Hartford on Friday night. It was the Pack’s fifth straight win, bettering their current season-high mark for consecutive victories. The win could prove costly, however, as All-Star center Artem Anisimov left the ice with what appeared to be a shoulder injury with five minutes remaining in the third after he took an awkward hit by Drew Bagnall as he reached for the puck in the neutral zone.
UPDATE 12:40PM: Anisimov’s injury isn’t thought to be very serious and there’s a good chance he’ll play tonight in Portland.
Hartford’s lone regulation goal came just 1:05 into the opening period, when defenseman Corey Potter dumped the puck towards the Manchester goal from just outside the Monarch blue line. Potter’s weak shot deflected off defenseman Alec Martinez and past starting goaltender Daniel Taylor, who’s view of the shot was blocked by his defenseman.
A pair of fights punctuated the twelfth minute of an otherwise quiet period in which Manchester outshot Hartford 8-7. Rookie Devin DiDiomete squared off with former Sarnia Sting teammate Richard Clune at 12:56, followed by heavyweights Brandon Sugden and Kevin Westgarth off the next faceoff. Both were entertaining bouts with DiDiomete taking a slight edge over Clune and Westgarth squeaking out the victory over Sugden.
Manchester registered its only goal at 7:55 of the second. Defenseman Davis Drewiske carried the puck down the left wing boards deep into the Wolf Pack zone, cutting in from the corner towards the net, around Sean Avery, who was likely playing his last home game for the Pack. Drewiske threaded a pass through the crease to Justin Azevedo, who earned his tenth of the season with the easy tap in from the right post, knotting the score at one.
It looked like Avery broke the deadlock on a 5-on-3 with 4:29 remaining in the period, but his wrist shot from the high slot deflected past Taylor, off the post and out, never crossing the goal line.
It was a disjointed game for the Wolf Pack, which struggled to make accurate passes or generate quality scoring chances all night. After taking an 8-7 edge in shots in the second, they were outshot by the Monarchs 11-6 in the third. Zaba was once again solid in goal, and has now climbed to 12th overall in goals against average (2.45) and 11th over all in save percentage (.918) amongst AHL goaltenders. The rookie netminder has won six of his last seven starts, putting up a 1.42 GAA and a .952 save percentage in that time.
The teams swapped three shots apiece in the overtime period before heading to the shootout, where Zaba stoned all five Manchester shooters he faced. Avery shot first for the Pack, putting the puck wide of Taylor’s net. Taylor then stopped Greg Moore’s backhander and Patrick Rissmiller’s five-hole attempt, before getting beat by Parenteau with a forehand deke to the glove side. Taylor stopped Tommy Pyatt on the Pack’s final attempt, but Zaba’s flawless performance ensured that it didn’t matter.
The victory allowed the Pack to keep pace in the Atlantic Division, where Portland, Providence and Lowell all picked up wins of their own on Friday. That leaves Providence three points ahead of the Wolf Pack in first place, Portland three points behind in third, and Lowell another three back of the Pirates in fourth. Hartford travels to Portland to face the Pirates Saturday night.
1. Potter (7) (Dupont, Zaba) 1:05
2. Azevedo (10) (Drewiske) 7:55
Dupont – Anisimov – Parenteau
Rissmiller – Avery – Weise
Pyatt – Ouellette – Owens
DiDiomete – Moore – Sugden
Potter – Sanguinetti
Urquhart – Sauer
Denisov – Fahey
Zaba / Wiikman
1. Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau
2. Matt Zaba
3. Justin Azevedo
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