The Hartford Wolf Pack’s seven game winning streak came to and end in Manchester on Friday when they dropped a 1-0 decision to the Manchester Monarchs in overtime. 19-year old Russian defenseman Viatcheslav Voynov scored the game’s only goal 38 seconds into the extra session to give the Monarchs their first victory in seven tries against the Wolf Pack this season. Goaltender Matt Zaba was strong once again for the Pack, stopping 31 shots in his ninth consecutive start, a span in which he’s lost only twice, both by 1-0 margins.
The two teams played a cautious first period, neither taking any risks, nor getting many significant scoring chances. The best chance of the frame went to Manchester and came with just 32 seconds remaining when Justin Azevedo deflected a shot from the point, but Zaba was in perfect position to keep the game scoreless. The Monarchs managed a single shot advantage on the Pack in the period, outshooting them 9-8.
Over all, Hartford played an uninspired, tentative game, devoid of the hard-hitting, hard-forechecking, aggressive play that has helped power their recent run. The instant chemistry the new top line of Mark Bell, Artem Anisimov and P.A. Parenteau displayed on Wednesday was nowhere to be found as they trio failed to generate any truly dangerous scoring chances. In fact, the Pack as a whole managed only two shots on Monarch goalie Jonathan Bernier through the first sixteen minutes of the second period and were outshot 11-7 in the period and 32-24 in the game.
Penalties by Scott Parse at 15:58 and Drew Bagnall at 16:25 gave the Wolf Pack 1:33 of 5-on-3 time late in the period, during which they fired 5 shots on Bernier’s net and had their best scoring chance of the period on point blank shot by Bell. Bernier made the stop look easy, and at 18:01 Bell was whistled for interference, wiping out the last 24 seconds of power play time. Hartford’s power play, which has improved to tenth in the AHL at 17.9% efficiency, finished the game 0 for 4, while Manchester’s 16th ranked unit went 0 for 3.
In an obvious effort to spur on their listless teammates, Pack rookie Devin DiDiomete and former Sarnia Sting teammate Richard Clune squared off five minutes into the final period. It was the fifth such meeting between the two Ontario natives this season. DiDiomete was the winner in this one when he connected with a right early on, knocking Clune to his knees.
Manchester had to kill off its second power play of the period at 11:54, and they did so convincingly. They built on the momentum generated by their strong kill to manufacture their best chance at getting on the board with a flurry of shots from in close, the last of which was taken with Zaba down and on his side. Either the prone Zaba or Ansimov, who was standing behind him in the crease, prevented what appeared to be a sure fire goal, keeping the game scoreless with less than five minutes remaining in regulation.
It didn’t take the home team long to earn the extra point once the final buzzer sounded to send the teams to overtime. After some good pressure by the Pack, a whiffed pass by Bell in the offensive zone lead to a 3-on-2 rush the other way. Trevor Lewis stole the puck and fed Brian Boyle, who carried it into the Pack zone and pulled up along the right wing boards to feed Voynov at the top of the left circle. The rookie from Chelyabinsk, Russia put everything he had into the one-timer and beat Zaba with a bullet to the glove side.
With that, the second longest winning streak in Wolf Pack franchise history was brought to an end.
It’s not all bad news, however. Providence fell 3-2 in a shootout in Manitoba, so the Pack remain tied with the Bruins with 74 points. Portland, who were off on Friday, are now five points back, with one game in hand. The streaking Monarchs are just one point behind the Pirates at 68, having leapfrogged both Lowell and Worcester with their recent winning streak.
Hartford travel to Springfield Saturday night for the second game of their current four game road trip and face the floundering Falcons, who’ve lost five in a row and are mired in the Atlantic Division basement with 47 points.
- Defenseman Corey Potter missed his second consecutive game with a minor upper body injury.
- Rookie Tomas Zaborsky also sat our Friday’s contest with an undiscolsed injury, suffered during Wednesday night’s game against Worcester.
- Defenseman Jared Nightingale made his return to the line after sitting out the past four games.
- Anisimov was replaced on a number of his shifts throughout the game by either Greg Moore or Patrick Rissmiller. No word on why.
OT. MCH Voynov, (6) (Boyle, Lewis), 0:38
Bell -Anisimov – Parenteau
Dupont – Rissmiller – Moore
Pyatt – Ouellette – Owens
DiDiomete – Sugden – Weise
Denisov – Sanguinetti
Urquhart – Sauer
Nightingale – Fahey
Zaba / Wiikman
1. Viatcheslav Voynov
2. Jonathan Bernier
3. Matt Zaba
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