Sometimes, when a team’s really rolling, it can steal two points in a game it had no business winning. Conversely, when a team’s struggling, it can end up on the losing end of a contest it deserved to come away from with a victory.
That’s what happened to the Hartford Wolf Pack on Sunday afternoon, after Corey Potter’s third period go-ahead goal against the Albany River Rats was waved off on a bogus goaltender interference call by referee Frederic L’Ecuyer. The Pack went on to lose the game in a shootout, 2-1, despite outshooting the River Rats 12-4 in the third period and 7-2 in overtime.
It didn’t start as well for the Wolf Pack, which was outshot 19-6 in the opening period and entered the first intermission trailing by a goal after Chris Terry scored from in close on the rebound of teammate Pat Dwyer wrist shot at 16:54. Chad Johnson, back in Connecticut’s capital to get in some playing time before he returns to the backup role in New York on Monday, was strong in goal, making a number of quality saves in the frame.
The play in the first period wasn’t quite as lopsided as the shot total would suggest, however, and over the course of the next twenty minutes the Wolf Pack slowly took over the game. The team’s hard work paid dividends at 12:24 when right wing Derek Couture batted home defenseman Matt Gilroy’s centering pass after Gilroy rushed the puck up ice and deep into the Albany zone.
After earning a 6-5 advantage in shots in the middle period, the Pack poured on the pressure in the third, outshooting the River Rats 12-4 and holding a significant edge in territorial play. It looked like the team had taken the lead at 12:34 when Potter’s shot from the center blue line beat Albany goaltender Justin Peters through Wolf Pack winger Dale Weise’s screen. But Peters had moved out to where Weise was stationed, a few feet outside his crease, and after the puck hit the twine behind him, Peters sold goalie interference to L’Ecuyer perfectly, resulting not only in the goal being waved off, but in Weise heading to the sin bin for two minutes.
Given the fragile state of the struggling squad, the bad call could have sent the Pack into tailspin, but the team’s PK — ranked just 26th out of 29 AHL teams — came up big, not only keeping the River Rats off the scoreboard, but preventing them from even getting a single shot on goal. In fact, the visitors would manage just a one more shot through the remainder of regulation.
In extra time, the Wolf Pack were dominant, outshooting Albany 7-2. The club finished overtime on the power play, after Steven Goertzen hauled down Dane Byers at 3:28, preventing a likely goal into the open side of the cage off Brodie Dupont’s centering pass. But despite numerous shots on goal, the sputtering Pack power play failed to convert. The unit has now scored just twice in 26 attempts over the last ten games.
Once again in the shootout only Corey Locke could convert, while a somewhat puzzling group of Gilroy, Byers, defenseman Michael Sauer, and Weise each either failed to beat Peters or shot the puck wide. At the other and of the ice Jacob Micflicker and Jamie McBain were able to beat Johnson, giving the River Rats a victory over the Wolf Pack for the first time in the teams’ last 14 match-ups.
The single point gave the Wolf Pack a 14-12-1-3 record and 32 points, good for a fifth place tie in the Atlantic Division.
The team will look to build off Sunday’s performance when they host a pair of North Division teams next weekend, starting with the Toronto Marlies at 7:00pm on Friday and the Hamilton Bulldogs at the same time on Saturday.
1. ALB Terry, (6) (Dwyer, McBain), 16:54
2. HFD Couture, (3) (Gilroy, Byers), 12:24
Hartford Shootout Scoring:
Corey Locke (Goal)
Matt Gilroy (No Goal)
Dane Byers (No Goal)
Michael Sauer (No Goal)
Dale Weise (No Goal)
Albany Shootout Scoring:
Jacob Micflikier (Goal)
Chris Terry (No Goal)
Jamie McBain (Goal)
Zach Boychuk (No Goal)
1. Justin Peters
2. Jamie McBain
3. Dane Byers
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