Five second period penalties cost the Hartford Wolf Pack any chance it had of defeating the visiting Hamilton Bulldogs on Saturday night, as the Bulldogs capitalized on a pair of five-on-threes opportunities en route to a 4-1 victory in the final game of Hartford’s current five game homestand.
Brodie Dupont scored the lone Wolf Pack goal and Steve Valiquette continued his improved play in goal, stopping 30 of 34 shots faced, including a number of quality chances.
The Wolf Pack got off to a good start, peppering the Bulldog net with 14 shots in the first period, compared to seven put up by the visitors. Goaltender Curtis Sanford proved impenetrable, stopping everything he faced, including a point-blank shot by AHL leading scorer Corey Locke and a breakaway by Derek Couture with just over three minutes remaining in the frame.
As good as the Pack looked in the first period, the Bulldogs were even better in the second, outshooting their hosts by a 20-4 margin. Mathieu Carle opened the scoring at 5:09 when he walked in from the right point and scored low to Valiquette’s stick side through a screen.
Dupont answered three minutes later with a power move down the left wing boards, cutting in at the bottom of the circle and beating Sanford high on the stick side at 8:06. The goal gave Dupont five points in his last five games.
The Pack’s penalty problems started shortly thereafter. Locke went to the box for holding at 6:58 and Yannick Weber made if a four-on-four 24 seconds later. David Urquhart’s interference call gave the Bulldogs a four-on-three advantage at 8:46. Matt Gilroy made it a five-on-three when he heaved a clearing attempt over the glass at 10:29.
That proved to be too much for the Wolf Pack penalty kill unit, which surrendered its first of goal nine seconds later. David Desharnais centered the puck from the right corner, only to have it deflect of Wolf Pack defenseman Nigel Williams skate and past Valiquette on the short side.
The five-on-three goal against obviously wasn’t enough of a warning of what can happen when you take too many penalties, because Jordan Owens went to the box 1:22 later, giving Hamilton another 24 seconds of five-on-three time.
The result was no different than the first time, as P.K. Subban’s shot from the left point squeezed through Valiquette’s pads and came to rest on the goal line. In his haste to find it and prevent the reaching Bulldog players from pushing it Valiquette knocked it in himself, giving the league’s top defensive team all the lead they would need.
The Pack would poor on the pressure in the third period, but Ryan White salted the win away when Subban hit him without a pass as he stepped out of the penalty box and beat Valiquette on a breakaway at 15:09.
Hartford finished the period with 8 shots to Hamilton’s 7, giving the visiting squad a 34-26 advantage in the game.
The loss puts the Wolf Pack’s record at 15-13-1-3 for 34 points, good for fifth place in the Atlantic Division. The team returns to action following the Christmas break with a game against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Saturday.
- Matt Gilroy was held scoreless for the first time since being assigned to Hartford eight days ago. He finished the game a minus-2 and was in the box for Hamilton’s first five-on-three goal.
- Former Ranger prospect Tommy Pyatt played his old team for the first time. He was held off the scoreboard but finished the contest a plus-1. This was only Pyatt’s second game with the Bulldogs since November 1st, as the third year pro was assigned to Hamilton earlier this week following a 19 game stint in the NHL. Pyatt was pointless and a minus-9 in his taste of NHL action.
2. HAM Carle, (5) (Henry, Desharnais), 5:09
2. HFD Dupont, (6) (Sauer), 8:06
2. HAM Desharnais, (11) (Subban, Benoit), 10:38 (PP)
2. HAM Subban, (6) (Weber, Stevenson), 12:42 (PP)
3. HAM White, (4) (Subban), 15:09
1. P.K. Subban
2. David Desharnais
3. Curtis Sanford
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