Byers’ OT winner leads the Pack past Manchester
Saturday January 23rd 2010, 12:50 pm

The Hartford Wolf Pack gained a measure of revenge in Hartford on Friday night, defeating the Mancheser Monarchs 3-2 in overtime after having fallen to the Atlantic Division’s leaders 4-1 five nights earlier in Manchester.

Wolf Pack captain Dane Byers got the overtime winner, his second of the season, on a power play, with a perfect deflection of Paul Crowder’s pass at 2:20 of extra time.

The Pack got off to a much better start than they did in Sunday’s 4-1 loss in Manchester — where they gave up three goals in the first 11 minutes of the game — outshooting their guests 13-7 in the first period.  But it was still the Monarchs who scored first, shorthanded, during the Pack’s first power play of the night.  Former Rangers prospect Marc-Andre Cliche and teammate Gabe Gauthier managed to break in 2-on-1 on Wolf Pack goaltender Chad Johnson, who is with the team this weekend to get some playing time before returning to his backup role with the New York Rangers.  Johnson stopped Cliche’s initial shot, but Gauthier was there to pick up the rebound and put it in the net, giving Manchester the lead at 10:36 of the period.

The Pack drew even on the same power play.  Evgeny Grachev extended his points streak to three games when he fed Brodie Dupont from behind the net.  Dupont one-timed a shot short-side past Manchester netminder Jonathan Bernier from the right circle for his eighth goal of the season.

Hartford grabbed the lead just over three minutes later, just two seconds after their second power play opportunity of the night had expired.  All-Star Corey Locke, who set a record for career All-Star points at nine with an assist in Tuesday’s AHL All-Star Game, controlled the puck behind the net, skated out and dished it off to a crashing Nigel Williams, who snapped it past Bernier on the stick side from the top of the circles.

The two teams played a scoreless second period, with the Wolf Pack earning the territorial edge.  Bernier was extremely sharp in goal, stopping all 15 of the shots he faced.  Johnson matched him by stopping eight Monarch shots.  Hartford entered the third period with a 28-15 advantage in shots.

The Monarchs didn’t earn the third best record in the league by giving up easily, however, and it showed in the third period, when they poured on the pressure to outshoot the Pack 13-5.  Johnson held the visitors off until midway through period, when Corey Elkins deflected Alex Martinez’s slapshot from the top of the circles past Johnson’s glove at 9:36.

Hartford got an excellent opportunity to retake the lead when Richard Clune connected with a fly-by elbow on All-Star defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti with 4:22 to go in regulation, but were unable to capitalize, sending the two teams to the extra frame.  Sanguinetti was shaken up, but returned to man the point late in the power play.

Manchester once again got itself in penalty trouble in overtime, getting called for having too many men on the ice at 1:49.  This time the Wolf Pack made them pay, when Crowder feathered a perfect pass to Byers, who deflected the puck through his own legs and those of the goaltender to give the Wolf Pack their league-leading seventh overtime victory of the season and third in the club’s last four games.

The Pack are back in action on Saturday night when they travel to Springfield to face the Falcons, who are mired in a three-way tie for the worst record in the AHL.  They’ll get another shot at the division leaders on Sunday, when they travel back to Manchester for a 3:00pm start.

Notes:

  • The Wolf Pack were without second leading scorer P.A. Parenteau, injured when he was hit awkwardly into the boards in Sunday’s game, and defenseman Corey Potter, who missed his fourth game with an undisclosed injury.
  • Making matters worse, the Pack lost third leading scorer Dale Weise to what appeared to be a wrist injury midway through the second period. Weise did not return to the game and his status for Saturday night is unknown.
  • The Wolf Pack have launched “Wolf Pack All Access: Road the the Show“, an ongoing, behind-the-scenes look at the life of the Pack’s players as their try to make their way to the NHL.  Clips are filmed by Wolf Pack players themselves and the project is produced by the Connecticut School of Broadcasting.  New episodes will be released after each Wolf Pack road trip.

Scoring:
1. MCH Gauthier, (6) (Cliche, Nolan), 10:36 (SH)
1. HFD Dupont, (8) (Grachev, Sanguinetti), 11:43 (PP)
1. HFD Williams, (2) (Locke), 14:53
3. MCH Elkins, (14) (Martinez, Walker), 9:36
OT. HFD Byers, (10) (Crowder, Heikkinen), 2:20 (PP)

Three Stars:
1. Dane Byers
2. Brodie Dupont
3. Alec Martinez

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