Miika Wiikman stopped 18 shots to earn his second shut out of the season and Tommy Pyatt was credited with the game’s lone goal as the Hartford Wolf Pack shutout the Lowell Devils, 1-0, in Hartford on Wednesday night.
The win moved the Pack back into a tie for first place in the Atlantic Division with 82 points and further hampered Lowell’s hopes of post-season play. The Devils entered the game desperate for points, having fallen six points back of the fourth and final playoff birth with 13 games remaining, and riding a 1-6-0-1 streak.
While their parent club has become infinitely more entertaining to watch in recent years, there remains little that is more mind-numbingly boring to watch than a Lowell Devils game. The lone highlight of the first period was the game’s only goal, which came at 19:02, just as the second of a pair of late-period Lowell penalties expired. Pyatt, who’s become a regular on the point on the power play in recent games, wristed the puck towards the net from the left point. Replays seemed to indicate that the shot deflected off second-year forward Brodie Dupont’s leg in front, but the goal was credited to Pyatt, giving him his 16th on the season.
Hartford outshot the Devils 10-6 in the period, earning the only two power plays awarded in the frame.
The second period included a scary moment early on when Hartford’s Greg Moore was checked awkwardly into the boards in the offensive zone by Devil defenseman Mark Fraser. The Wolf Pack’s captain dropped to the ice on his back and after lifting his head initially, laid motionless as the medical staff made their way to him. After a stretcher and backboard were wheeled out, the 24-year old forward, who picked up the lone assist on Pyatt’s first period goal, was able to first sit up and then stand and skate of the ice under his own power. He was taken to the hospital as a precaution, with what seems likely to be diagnosed as a concussion.
Fraser was not penalized on the play, and in fact, after earning the first power play of the period, the Wolf Pack were whistled for four consecutive penalties in the second. Hartford’s penalty kill performed brilliantly, limiting Lowell to only seven shots in the period, a number they matched, despite spending eight minutes in the box.
The Devils got two more power plays in the first half of the third period. The visitors came closest to getting on the board at 6:48 when Vladimir Zharkov knocked Wiikman’s feet out from under him as he cut between the Wolf Pack netminder and the goal post while chasing a loose puck behind the net. With Wiikman down and out of the crease, the Devils were able to score into the empty net. But despite refusing to call a penalty on Zharkov, referee Ian Croft waved the goal off due to goalie interference, leaving Hartford in the lead.
Wiikman faced just five shots in the third period, but saved his best stop for last — a huge sliding pad save on Barry Tallackson as he cut in from the left side boards and across the front of the net with just 17 seconds remaining and Devils goaltender Jeff Frazee on the bench for the extra skater.
The Wolf Pack return to action on Friday, when they travel to Portland to face the Pirates, who topped Manchester on Wednesday to move into third place, one point ahead of the Monarchs and two ahead of fifth place Worcester. Hartford and Providence, which has a game in hand over their co-division leaders, are currently nine points ahead of the rest of the pack.
Highlights of the game are available from AHL Live.
1. Pyatt (16) (Moore) 19:02
Bell – Rissmiller – Parenteau
Pyatt – Moore – Owens
Dupont – Anisimov – Weise
DiDiomete – Ouellette – Sugden
Potter – Sanguinetti
Urquhart – Sauer
Denisov – Fahey
Wiikman / Daigneault
1. Tommy Pyatt
2. Miika Wiikman
3. Rod Pelley
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