While it’s true the Hartford Wolf Pack has gotten off to its second worst start in franchise history, the schedule hasn’t exactly worked in the club’s favor. Heading into Saturday night’s contest at the XL Center the Wolf Pack had played six of its first seven games on the road, winning just one of them, and getting its only other “W” in the team’s only previous home game. Last night, they proved that a little home cooking can go a long way, remaining undefeated at home with a 5-2 over the Lowell Devils.
P.A. Parenteau earned first star honors with a goal and two assists, Corey Locke added a goal and an assist, and Ilkka Hiekkinen put up a pair of assists. Corey Potter scored his first goal of the season, shorthanded into an empty net, added an assist, and finished on the plus side of the ledger for the first time all season with a plus-2. And Miika Wiikman earned his first win of the campaign by stopping 34 of 36 Devils shots.
After a scoreless first period in which the visitors out shot the home team by a 16-9 margin, Locke opened the scoring on the power play just 32 seconds into the second frame. Parenteau put a perfect pass across the slot from the left half boards and the three time AHL All-Star one-timed a shot from the right circle to beat Devils netminder Jeff Frazee high on the glove side.
The Devils answered less than two and a half minutes later, also on the power play. Seven seconds after Jordan Owens was sent to the box for tripping, sophomore winger Vladimir Zharkov put a puck off Wiikman’s glove and into the net to knot the score at one.
Hartford added its second of three power play goals midway through the period. This time it was Bobby Sanguinetti on the left half boards feeding a cross slot pass to Parenteau as he cut in from the right circle. Parenteau beat Frazee on the glove side at 9:52 to put the Pack back in the lead, 2-1.
But just as they had after their first tally, the Wolf Pack gave up a quick goal to allow Lowell to tie things up. Once again it was Zharkov, who stole the puck just inside the Pack blue line, spun, and threw a quick shot on net. Hartford defenseman Brent Henley deflected it perfectly over Wiikman’s shoulder for an own goal at 11:21 to make it 2-2. It was the second of only four goals to get past Wiikman in two starts that went in off his own defenseman’s stick.
The Wolf Pack took the lead for good five minutes later with their third power play goal in as many tries. Evgeny Grachev controlled the puck on the right wing side and fed Michael Sauer at the left point for wrist shot that beat Frazee through a screen at 16:27. Hartford finished the middle period with a 3-2 lead on the scoreboard and a 10-8 advantage in shots.
Byers gave the Wolf Pack its first two goal lead of the game early in the third period. After taking a feed at the right post from Locke, the 4th-year pro got his second goal in as many games by jamming home his own rebound at 2:53.
Wiikman held the fort the rest of the way, stopping all 12 third period shots he faced. A high sticking penalty assessed to Paul Crowder with 1:11 remaining looked like it might give the Devils an opportunity to get back into the game, but Potter salted away the win with a shorthanded goal into the empty net from inside his own blue line with exactly one minute remaining, ending Hartford’s losing streak at three games and giving the club its second straight win on home ice.
The Pack will get a chance to prove that a little home cooking was all they needed this afternoon when they take their first crack at the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season — the Worcester Sharks — at 3pm.
- Mathieu Dandenault made his Wolf Pack debut wearing number 25.
- Tyler Aranson missed the game due to a death in the family.
- Locke took a Sanguinetti wrist shot to the ear at the end of the first period, but returned to start the second and showed no ill effects.
- The Pack finished 3-for-3 on the power play, vaulting them into the top spot in the league at 29.5%. They remain 28th of 29 teams on the penalty kill, with a 70.5% kill rate.
- With seven defenseman in the line-up, none of the defense pairings listed below actually stayed together the whole game. Up front, all three of head coach Ken Gernander’s new lines showed some good chemistry at different points in the game.
Byers – Locke – Parenteau
Grachev – Dupont – Weise
Soryal – Crowder – Owens
Hillier – Ambuhl
Potter – Sanguinetti
Heikkinen – Dandenault
Urquhart – Sauer
Wiikman / Johnson
1. Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau
2. Corey Locke
3. Vladimir Zharkov
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