Injuries take their toll as Pack fall in OT
Sunday January 24th 2010, 11:58 am

Playing without two of their top three scorers, the Hartford Wolf Pack managed to carry a 1-0 lead late into the third period against the Springfield Falcons, thanks in large part to the outstanding goaltending of Chad Johnson.  But a fluky bounce off the boards on a Springfield dump-in trapped Johnson behind the net and allowed the Falcons to knot the score at 14:28, setting up the Wolf Pack’s fourth trip to overtime in their last five games.

This time, their luck ran out and the Wolf Pack we unable to pick up the extra point, falling 2-1 when Springfield’s Chris Minard beat Johnson at 1:42 of the extra frame.

And things may have gotten even worse for the Pack, who lost top-scoring blueliner Bobby Sanguinetti to injury early in the third period.

The Falcons entered game tied with two other teams for the worst record in the AHL, but they always play their nearest geographic rivals hard, and Saturday night was no different.  The Wolf Pack managed to come out of the first period with a 1-0 lead, however, after Corey Locke set Dane Byers up for a deflection in as the Wolf Pack captain was cutting across the crease at 9:57 of the session.

After out-chancing their visitors 9-6 in the first period, the Falcons completely outplayed the Wolf Pack in the second, compiling a 13-5 edge in shots while holding the Pack without a single shot past the midpoint of the period.  Johnson kept the home side off the board, however, in what turned out to be a scoreless second period.

Early in the third period Sanguinetti left the game with an apparent leg injury after taking a hit from Geoff Paukovich.  The hit itself was clean, though it appeared to come a split-second late, but it caused Sanguinetti to fall backwards with his right leg trapped under him.  The sophomore pro could be seen writhing on the ice holding what appeared to be his right knee before the camera panned away to follow the aftermath of the hit.

That aftermath consisted of defenseman Jordan Nightingale chasing down Paukovich and earning an instigator penalty and game misconduct to go with coincidental fighting majors.  Fellow defenseman Nigel Williams then took a slashing penalty 33 seconds later to put the Wolf Pack down by two men.  Despite having only three defenseman left on the bench, the Pack managed to hold on to their one goal advantage and kill off both penalties.

Johnson continued his fantastic play in goal, and would finish with 11 more saves in the third.  He was helpless to prevent the tying tally at 14:28 of the third, however.  Former Pack forward Chad Wiseman rimmed the puck around the boards on a dump-in, and Johnson went behind the net to stop it.  But before it reached the rookie netminder the puck took a wild carom off the boards, deflecting off the side of the net directly to Charles Linglet, who scored into the wide open net.

The Falcons continued to pressure late in regulation, and when David Urquhart went off for five minutes with Viacheslav Trukhno following an uneventful scrap, the Pack were once again forced to play with a three-man defensive rotation — this time for almost the full seven minutes remaining in regulation since there were few whistles in the closing minutes.  Stalward defenseman Michael Sauer, who is once again leading the Pack defense corps with a plus-7, logged huge minutes, playing just about ever other shift.

Springfield continued to get the better chances in the first minute and a half of overtime, until Byers set up Locke for a point-blank chance from the slot.  Springfield goaltender Jean-Philippe Levasseur stoned the Wolf Pack’s leading scorer, sending play back the other way.  Once again it was Wiseman who carried the puck over the Pack blueline, continuing down the left side boards before getting rubbed out by defenseman Ilkka Heikkinen.  Inexplicably, fellow blueliner Williams chased the pair towards the boards, leaving Minard wide open.  Wiseman was able to throw the puck into the middle of the ice, where Minard picked it up and skated in on the Hartford net alone, deking Johnson and putting the puck through the goaltender’s pads to earn his club the extra point.

The Wolf Pack will face an even stiffer challenge on Sunday when they travel to Manchester to meet the division leading Monarchs for the third time in four games.  Judging by the looks of things — the Wolf Pack signed Charlotte Checkers defenseman Kevin Schaeffer to a professional try-out contract Sunday morning — the already-offensively challenged club will be doing so without three of their top four scorers.

Notes:

  • Swiss forward Andres Ambuhl earned a penalty shot at 5:10 of the third period, but his backhand attempt was turned aside by Levasseur.
  • Dale Weise missed his the game after suffering an apparent wrist injury in Friday’s match-up with Manchester.
  • P.A. Parenteau and Corey Potter remained out with undisclosed injuries.

Scoring:
1. HFD Byers, (11) (Locke), 9:57
3. SPR Linglet, (11) (Wiseman), 14:28
OT. SPR Minard, (10) (Wiseman, Linglet), 1:42

Three Stars:
1. Chris Minard
2. Charles Linglet
3. Chad Johnson

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Filed under: Hartford Wolf Pack

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