Sometimes a team will outplay an opponent but come up short on the scoreboard. Other times it can get outworked and outhustled for long stretches of a game and still come away with a victory. The later was the case for the Hartford Wolf Pack on Saturday night, as they scored twice on only four third period shots to break a 2-2 tie and escape with a 4-3 victory over the Manchester Monarchs in front of an impressive crowd of 8,314 at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester.
Matt Zaba won his second consecutive start, making 33 stops as the Monarchs out-shot the Pack by a 36-23 margin. On the offensive side, P.A. Parenteau lead the way with a goal and two assists, while rookies Bobby Sanguinetti and Dale Weise each scored their fourth goal of the season and Tom Pyatt added his eleventh.
The Pack got off the a slow start, and fell behind only 1:51 into the first period. With defenseman Corey Potter in the box for tripping — he was forced to take the penalty after he coughed up the puck right in front his own net — Manchester winger Teddy Purcell fed Scott Parse at the bottom of the left circle with a pretty cross-slot pass. Parse one-timed the puck on goal, where veteran center Marty Murray redirected it past Zaba to give the Monarchs the early lead.
The visitors managed to get their skates under them by the midpoint of the period, and ended up out-shooting the home side by a 10-7 margin in the first frame, but they were unable to solve rookie goaltender Jonathan Bernier.
That would change 5:36 into the second period, when rookie Dale Weise scored his first goal since November 23rd, a drought of 29 games. Jordan Owens lead Patrick Rissmiller, who carried the puck in along the left wing boards before sliding it towards the front of the net, where a hard-charging Weise was able to get a stick on it and deflect it past Bernier to make it 1-1.
Murray answered back with his second of the game 5:03 later after Purcell carried the puck into the high slot for a shot which Zaba stopped, but couldn’t control. In the ensuing scramble in front of the net, Murray was able to bang the puck home to give the Monarchs their second 1-goal lead.
Hartford tied it back up at 16:17 when, with the teams playing four-on-four, Sanguinetti took a pass from Parenteau at the top of the circles and powered a slap shot just under the cross bar for his fourth goal of the season.
Artem Anisimov had a chance to give the Pack the lead in the final minute of the period when he skated in on a partial break during a second stretch of four-on-four play. But the 6-4, 205-pound center was shoved from behind as he approached the net, sending him crashing into Bernier and both players flying into the net, which was knocked off its moorings and sent crashing into the end boards. It appeared that the 6-0, 184-pound netminder was injured on the play, but after taking a few minutes to collect himself he remained on the ice. The period ended without further incident, and with the Pack out-shooting Manchester 14-9 and the teams tied at two.
Machester came out hard in the final period, collecting their first half dozen shots on goal before the Pack picked up one of their own. But it was the Pack’s Parenteau who broke the stalemate, scoring his 20th of the season on a play that has become typical of Hartford’s top line. Left wing Brodie Dupont’s hard work along the boards behind the net led to Anisimov getting the puck along the goal line to the right of the net, from where he fed Parenteau for the one-timer from just below the hashmarks at 8:52.
Manchester redoubled its efforts after the goal, and the ice was tilted solidly towards the Wolf Pack end, where the two teams spent the majority of the next 7:43 of play. Zaba stood tall, stopping shot after shot until at 16:35 Anisimov intercepted a pass in the neutral zone and lead Parenteau on a 2-on-1 with Tom Pyatt. Parenteau feathered a perfect pass across the slot to Pyatt and the second-year pro one-timed the puck over Bernier’s shoulder from the right circle at 16:35.
The Monarchs wouldn’t go down quietly. With Bernier pulled for the extra attacker, left wing Parse fired a wrist show from the right circle to beat Zaba high on the glove side and pull Manchester back within one with 1:16 remaining in the game.
That was as close as they’d get. Zaba and the Pack stood tall through the final minute of the game to earn their third straight win and retain a share of first place in the Atlantic Division with the Providence Bruins, who defeated the Lowell Devils 5-1 in Lowell. Worcester also won, beating Al Montoya and the San Antonio Rampage 5-1 to move into third place with 54 points, one point behind Hartford and Providence. The Portland Pirates, who entered the night tied with the Pack and Providence with 53 points, lost to Bridgeport and now find themselves in fourth place in the division.
- With two assists, Anisimov (21 goals, 29 assists) jumped back into sole possession of the fourth spot over all in league scoring, three points behind Parenteau (20 goals, 33 assists), who’s in third.
- Brandon Sugden missed the game after injuring his hand during a fight with former Pack player Mitch Fritz on Friday. Matt Stefanishion returned to the line up after missing three games as a healthy scratch.
- Devon DiDiomete fought Richard Clune at 5:57 of the first period. It was a long scrap, but with neither player really landing any damaging blows. DiDiomete gets the edge for having the better stamina and looking stronger than his opponent late in the bout.
- Dupont took a hard hit from Drew Bagnall behind the Manchester net around the eleven-minute mark of the second period, and left the ice with the assistance of trainer Damien Hess. He returned without missing a shift.
- When play was blown dead after the hit on Dupont, Jared Nightingale challenged Bagnall and the two dropped the gloves. Bagnall got the upper hand, and landed one particularly solid blow as Nightingale was already on his way down to the ice after losing his footing.
- Pyatt (11 goals, 14 assists) has three goals and five points in his last five games and has moved into fifth place in team scoring, just a point behind Greg Moore (14 goals, 12 assists) and Sanguinetti (4 goals, 22 assists).
- The Pack power play was 0-for-4 on the night, and is 0-for-10 in its last two games.
- The Wolf Pack are 6-2 in their last eight games and now stand a season-high seven games above .500. Tonight’s third straight win ties the season mark for consecutive victories.
- The Monarchs will get another shot at the Pack on Wednesday, when they travel to Hartford for the back half of a home-and-home.
1. Murray (6) (Parse, Purcell) 1:51 (PP)
2. Weise (4) (Rissmiller, Owens) 5:36
2. Murray (7) (Moulson, Purcell) 10:39
2. Sanguinetti (4) (Parenteau, Potter) 16:17
3. Parenteau (20) (Anisimov, Dupont) 8:52
3. Pyatt (11) (Parenteau, Anisimov) 16:35
3. Parse (12) (Azevedo, Moulson) 18:44
Dupont – Anisimov – Parenteau
Owens – Rissmiller – Weise
Pyatt – Ouellette – Ford
DiDiomete – Moore – Stefanision
Potter – Sanguinetti
Urquhart – Sauer
Nightingale – Fahey
Zaba / Daigneault
1. Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau
2. Matt Zaba
3. Marty Murray
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