Locke’s last-second heroics give Wolf Pack win over Manchester
Sunday November 01st 2009, 11:01 pm

A trip to the Garden to watch the Rangers take on the Bruins (have I mentioned the Rangers are undefeated at home when I’ve been in the stands this season?) and a post-game birthday dinner in the city for my wonderful husband, who not only tolerates, but feeds the fetish that allows this blog to exist, meant I missed this afternoon’s (literally) last-second overtime victory by the Wolf Pack.  So once against I leave you with Bruce Berlet’s recap, courtesty of the Wolf Pack.

First, some numbers of note:

  • With three points tonight Corey Locke moved into sole possession of the AHL scoring lead with 8 goals and 9 assists for 17 points in 12 games.
  • P.A. Parenteau returned to the Wolf Pack lineup after scoring his first NHL goal during a two-game call-up by the Rangers and picked up two assists. His 8 goals and 8 assists tie him for second in league scoring with Charle Linglet of Springfield, though Parenteau’s played three fewer games.
  • Bobby Sanguinetti is tied with veteran blueliner Andy Wozniewski for the league lead in scoring by defensemen with 4 goals, 11 assists and 15 points in 12 games. The pair is also tied for fouth overall in league scoring.

Hartford Wolf Pack 3, Manchester Monarchs 2 (OT)

HARTFORD, Conn. – The Hartford Wolf Pack’s Corey Locke gave new meaning to playing beat the clock Sunday at the XL Center.

Locke capped a three-point night and took over the team scoring lead when he jammed his own rebound past Jonathan Bernier a millisecond before the overtime horn sounded, giving the Wolf Pack a 3-2 victory over the Atlantic Division-leading Manchester Monarchs before 2,801.

“I was pretty lucky,” said Locke, who assisted on the Wolf Pack’s first two goals and had seven points in less than 24 hours. “Fortunately the shot (by defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti) got through to me. I held on to (the puck), the goalie made a good save, then it came loose and I poked it in. Very lucky.”

Locke, who had a goal and three assists in a 7-0 victory over the Providence Bruins Saturday night, said he saw Sanguinetti’s shot and was just looking to tip it in.

“I was able to corral it and get it behind him,” said Locke, who has eight goals and nine assists. “Just lucky.”

Ironically, Locke had failed to win a faceoff after Wolf Pack coach Ken Gernander called timeout with 35 seconds left.

“Not to be cliché, but you play right to the end,” Gernander said. “We’ve been asking all the guys for two weeks to finish all their plays in practice and in games, battle for loose pucks until the play is dead. They stuck with and got a big goal.

“Corey is a very opportunistic player as you saw. He gets his opportunities and has a nose for the net.”

Gernander said he realized it wasn’t going to be easy against the Monarchs (9-2-1-0), who had allowed only 14 goals, including three shutouts and yielding three goals during a six-game winning streak ended by the Wolf Pack.

“They’d given up the fewest goals in the league and were No. 1 on the penalty kill, so we knew we were going to have to work hard and really earn our chances,” Gernander said. “There’s where it’s critical to have second and third efforts.”

The Wolf Pack’s top-ranked power play struck quickly, as P.A. Parenteau, back from scoring his first NHL goal during a two-game stint with the Rangers, backhanded a pass to Ilkka Heikkinen breaking off the left point for a wrist shot that beat Bernier 4:10 into the game.

After Chad Johnson (33 saves) denied Oscar Moller breaking in off the left wing 30 seconds later, the Wolf Pack made it 2-0 as Parenteau passed from behind the net to Locke, whose centering pass was redirected past Bernier by Sanguinetti at 7:08.

Johnson then made five saves during a Monarchs’ four-minute power play that retained the Wolf Pack’s two-goal lead, and the Wolf Pack (6-6-0-0) had a golden opportunity to pad their lead early in the second period but failed to get a shot on Bernier during a 5-on-3 power play for 45 seconds and an ensuing one-man advantage.

Given that reprieve, the Monarchs got a fortuitous power-play goal when defenseman Viatcheslav Voynov fanned on a shot, fell down, got up and flipped a shot past Johnson on the glove side at 12:39. That broke a streak of nine consecutive goals for the Wolf Pack, who notched the second-biggest regular-season shutout in their 13-year history Saturday night.

Then just 1:51 later, the Monarchs tied it as Richard Clune converted David Kolomatis’ rebound over a prone Johnson to tie it at 2.

After each team failed to generate much on a power play early in the third period, Johnson kept the Wolf Pack tied when he smothered Gabe Gauthier’s wraparound attempt and rebound bid with 8:39 left.

Johnson made a brilliant right-pad save on Andrei Loktionov with 2:15 left in overtime, then got a bit fortunate in the final 30 seconds when Trevor Lewis slid a backhander through the crease and then shot high with the Wolf Pack goalie laying on the ice.

“The defense played awesome in front of me,” Johnson said. “You can’t give enough credit to them. They were doing a good job of standing up at the blue line, let me see all the shots and cleared all the rebounds. (The Monarchs) had some chances because they have some skilled players, but there are times in the game when a goalie has to stand up.”

Especially against Loktionov.

“It just happened pretty quickly,” Johnson said. “With 4-on-4 in overtime, it’s a lot more wide open, so you kind of expect situations like that and wait as long as possible.”

Locke then lifted in the puck just before the clock hit triple zeros, and the other Wolf Pack players mobbed him after two back-to-back wins after their second-worst shutout loss in their 13-year history, 6-0 to the Hershey Bears Friday night.

“We hope Friday is behind us and the last we see of something like that,” said Gernander, whose team rebounded from the embarrassing loss to record the shutout win and the last-second victory. “The two wins Saturday and Sunday were important wins and good team efforts.”

SUMMARY

Manchester    0 2 0 0 — 2
Hartford         2 0 0 1 — 3

First Period-1, Hartford, Heikkinen 3 (Parenteau, Locke), 4:10 (pp). 2, Hartford, Sanguinetti 4 (Locke, Parenteau), 7:08. Penalties-Gauthier, Mch (hooking), 3:15; Ambuhl, Hfd (unsportsmanlike conduct, tripping), 7:15.

Second Period-3, Manchester, Voynov 3 (Loktionov, Gauthier), 12:39 (pp). 4, Manchester, Clune 1 (Kolomatis, Moller), 14:20. Penalties-Couture, Hfd (tripping), 2:23; Piskula, Mch (tripping), 5:38; Gauthier, Mch (slashing), 6:54; Potter, Hfd (interference), 11:26; Owens, Hfd (tripping), 16:08.

Third Period-No Scoring. Penalties-Segal, Mch (tripping), 5:26; Couture, Hfd (tripping), 8:14.
Overtime: 5, Hartford, Locke 8 (Sanguinetti), 4:59. Penalties-None.

Shots on Goal-Manchester 11-13-9-2-35. Hartford 8-7-10-5-30; Power Play Opportunities-Manchester 1 of 6; Hartford 1 of 4; Goalies-Manchester, Bernier 6-2-0 (30 shots-27 saves). Hartford, Johnson 4-3-0 (35-33); A-2,801; Referee-Zac Wiebe; Linesmen-Derek Wahl, Jim Briggs.

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