Lead by a revised top line of newcomer Mark Bell skating with first line stalwarts Artem Anisimov and P.A. Parenteau, the Hartford Wolf Pack earned their seventh consecutive victory by defeating the Worcester Sharks 3-1 in Hartford on Wednesday. Anisimov lead the way with two goals and an assist, while Bell tallied a goal and an assist and Parenteau picked up helpers on each of the three goals.
Matt Zaba was once again solid in net, particularly in the third period when the Pack, who were playing with only five defenseman after a “minor injury” during warm-ups caused Corey Potter to be a last-minute scratch, allowed the Sharks to take 18 shots on goal.
Hartford had numerous scoring chances in the first period, but it wasn’t until the clock had ticked down to 13.2 seconds that they were able to get on the board. Anisimov banked a perfect two-line pass off the boards to Parenteau as he entered the Worcester zone, and the Pack’s leading scorer carried the puck in on net before backhanding a pass between a defenders legs to Bell, who was playing his first game after being picked up off waivers by the Rangers last week and assigned to the Wolf Pack on Monday. The 28-year old winger smacked a one-timer into the open side of the net for his 13th of the season and first as a member of the Wolf Pack.
Anisimov made it 2-1 just 26 seconds into the second period when he collected the rebound of Vladimir Denisov’s slap shot from the right point and put it over Worcester goalie Thomas Greiss for his 25th of the season.
The Sharks cut the lead in half at 3:12, just six seconds into a tripping penalty whistled against rookie Tomas Zaborsky. AHL All-Star Ryan Vesce won a faceoff back to Derek Joslin at the right point, and the All-Star defenseman fired off a seeing-eye slap shot that found its way through a line of bodies to beat Zaba, who was making his 8th consecutive start in goal for Hartford.
Anisimov tallied his second of the game and tied Parenteau for the team lead in goals with 26 on the power play at 6:11 of the third period. Bell carried the puck into the Sharks zone down the left wing side, held up along the half boards, and saucered a perfect pass into the slot for the onrushing Anisimov, who roofed a backhander under the crossbar.
With the 2-goal lead and only five defenseman dressed, the Wolf Pack sat back in the third, allowing the Sharks to take 18 shots on goal after they put up only 17 through the first two frames. Zaba, the AHL’s Goalie of the Month for February, stopped chance after chance as time wound down, including a shorthanded breakaway by Vesce with 1:42 on the clock. The rookie netminder’s strong performance in his seventh straight win moved him into a tie for seventh in the league in goals-against average (2.41) and ninth in the AHL in save percentage (.919).
In Toronto, the Providence Bruins, who lost two of their top players in a Boston trade deadline deal on Wednesday, fell 6-4 to the Marlies. The loss leaves them tied with the Pack for first place in the Atlantic Divisoin with an identical 34-23-2-3 record and 73 points.
Hartford travels to Manchester on Friday to face the surging Monarchs, who’ve won five of their last seven, with their only two losses in that stretch coming against the Wolf Pack.
Highlights are available from AHL Live.
1. Bell (13) (Parenteau, Anisimov) 19:46
2. Anisimov (25) (Denisov, Parenteau) 0:26
2. Joslin (8) (Vesce) 3:12 (PP)
3. Anisimov (26) (Bell, Parenteau) 6:11 (PP)
Bell – Anisimov – Parenteau
Dupont – Rissmiller – Moore
Pyatt – Ouellette – Owens
DiDiomete – Zaborsky – Weise
Urquhart – Sauer
Denisov – Fahey
1. Artem Anisimov
2. Mark Bell
3. Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau
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