Evgeny Grachev scored his first professional goal and P.A. Parenteau and Paul Crowder each added two assists, but that wasn’t enough for the Hartford Wolf Pack, which fell to 0-2 on the season with a 5-3 loss to the Providence Bruins on Friday.
Dale Weise and Corey Locke scored the other two goals for the Wolf Pack.
Hartford opened the scoring with the man advantage at 11:48 of the first period. Parenteau, from his usual power play location along the left half boards, fed Grachev just above the left hashmarks. The 19-year old rookie snapped a quick one-timer past Providence starter Dany Sabourin for the first of what Rangers fans hope will be many goals in his pro career.
The Bruins answered back with four consecutive goals starting at 14:04. With the Pack playing a man short, veteran center Trent Whitfield put the rebound of Jamie Arniel’s shot past starter Chad Johnson, who was making his professional debut in goal, from the left circle to even the score at one.
Mikko Lehtonen scored his first of two goals 4:06 later. After a nice rush into the Providence zone which showcased his speed, Wolf Pack Swiss import Andres Ambuhl’s poorly placed drop pass was picked off by Andy Wozniewski, who fed Jeff LoVecchio, who led Lehtonen streaking down the right side boards. Lehtonen cut in off the wing and stuffed a shot on net which trickled through Johnson to give the Bruins a lead they’d never relinquish.
A pair of goals two minutes apart in the second period put the game out of reach for the Pack. At 8:44 Kirk MacDonald turned sophomore defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti inside-out, cut in from the left circle and beat Johnson.
Dane Byers got whistled for high sticking less than a minute later, setting the Bruins up for their second power play goal on just their second attempt. Whitfield passed the puck out from the corner to Wozniewski, whose shot from the slot was stopped by Johnson. The 23-year old netminder was unable to control the rebound, which was poked by him by Lehtonen to make it 4-1 at 10:44.
Tempers started to boil over a minute later with the first of a trio of second period fights. Brodie Dupont took on Drew Fata at 11:44 in an evenly contested bout. Byers and Adam McQuaid squared off for the first of two scraps at 13:02, with McQuaid getting the clear upper hand. Unhappy with the result of the first fight Byers challenged McQuaid again with 13 seconds remaining in the period and fared only slightly better.
Post whistle scrums were a constant the rest of the way, as the two teams proved it doesn’t take long to renew an old rivalry.
Johnson held the score at 4-1 through the final 9:16 of the second period, but when the teams returned from the locker room after the second intermission sophomore Matt Zaba took over in net. While the disorganized defense in front of him certainly bore more of the blame for the four goals he gave up, it wasn’t a great debut for Johnson, who didn’t seem to be seeing the puck well.
More than anything the change was designed to shake things up, and it had its desired effect when Locke got his third goal of the season on the power play at 3:17 after he knocked in the rebound of Patrick Rissmiller’s shot from the hashmarks.
Head coach Ken Gernander has his work cut out for him with the Wolf Pack penalty kill, which surrendered its third goal of the game and fifth in nine tries this season at 13:51. Brad Marchand took a centering pass from Vladimir Sobotka in the right circle and fired a high shot on goal, which rolled over Zaba’s shoulder to make it 5-2.
Weise added his first of the season at 19:50 to finalize the scoring, converting on Crowder’s centering pass.
The Wolf Pack finished with a 37-33 shot advantage in the game. Johnson stopped 21 of the 25 shots he faced and took the loss while Zaba stopped 7 of 8 third period shots in relief.
The Pack play their home opener against the Springfield Falcons on Saturday night before returning to Providence on Sunday for a rematch at 4:05pm.
Video highlights are available from AHL Live.
- Winger Devin DiDiomete will miss the first six weeks of the season with a broken arm suffered in the Pack’s final preseason game.
- Tomas Zaborsky, who was among the final batch of cuts from Wolf Pack training camp, has refused to report to the Charlotte Checkers of the ECHL. According to Mitch Beck of Howlings, Zaborsky is exploring his options for playing in Europe. According to Leslie Treff of Hockey’s Future, Zaborsky prefers to remain in North America and the organization is trying to work out a loan or trade to another organization.
1. Grachev, (1) (Parenteau, Crowder), 11:48 (PP)
1. Whitfield, (2) (Arniel, Lehtonen), 14:04 (PP)
1. Lehtonen, (1) (LoVecchio, Wozniewski), 18:10
2. MacDonald, (1) (Lefebvre, Bodnarchuk), 8:44
2. Lehtonen, (2) (Wozniewski, Whitfield), 10:44 (PP)
3. Locke, (3) (Rissmiller, Parenteau), 3:17 (PP)
3. Marchand, (3) (Sobotka, Goulet), 13:51 (PP)
3. Weise, (1) (Crowder, Owens), 19:50
Grachev – Locke – Parenteau
Dupont – Rissmiller – Weise
Byers – Arneson – Ambuhl
Soryal – Crowder – Owens
Heikkinen – Sanguinetti
Williams – Potter
Henley – Sauer
Johnson / Zaba
1. Mikko Lehtonen
2. Trent Whitfield
3. Andy Wozniewski
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