Wolf Pack win fourth in a row with first shootout victory
Sunday January 03rd 2010, 10:28 pm

Prior to Saturday night’s come-from-behind victory over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers the Pack hadn’t won a single game all season in which they’d trailed heading into the third period.  It would appear they now intend to make a habit of it, as the club once again rallied in the third period Sunday afternoon, erasing a 0-1 deficit to go on and beat the Syracuse Crunch 2-1 in a shootout.

It was also the first shootout win for Hartford’s finest in five tries this season.  Corey Locke, P.A. Parenteau and Ilkka Heikkinen — who’d scored at 11:08 of the third period to tie things up with a top-corner, far-side wrist shot from the left face-off dot — all scored on their attempts and Chad Johnson was perfect, stopping all three shooters he faced after turning aside 30 shots through sixty minutes of regulation and five minutes of four-on-four overtime.

That’s the good news.  The bad news is that Syracuse owns the AHL’s worst record and has surrendered more goals than any club in the league.  With all due respect to the Crunch, it’s hard to get too excited over a 2-1 shootout victory over the worst team in the league. Still, two points are two points and these two happened to give the Pack their fourth straight victory and sole possession of fourth place in the Atlantic Division, one ahead of Portland and two north of the Sound Tigers.

Household chores meant I was audio only for the first two periods (damn these 3 p.m. Sunday starts!) so I leave you once again with Brian Ring’s write up via the Wolf Pack.

Hartford Wolf Pack 2, Syracuse Crunch 1 (SO)

By Brian Ring

Hartford, CT, January 3, 2010 – The Hartford Wolf Pack rallied from behind for the second straight game Sunday, topping the Syracuse Crunch in a shootout, 2-1, in front of 3,322 at the XL Center.

Ilkka Heikkinen provided the third-period equalizer and a shootout goal for Hartford, Chad Johnson made 30 saves and Corey Locke recorded the shootout winner to give the Wolf Pack their fourth straight win.

“Another come from behind victory, another two points,” said Hartford head coach Ken Gernander.  “It’s big for us.”

The Crunch’s Jared Aulin had opened the scoring at 8:28 of the first period with his ninth goal of the season.  Aulin cleanly beat Johnson with a high snap shot for the early 1-0 lead, with former New York Ranger Dan Fritsche assisting on the goal.

Hartford outshot Syracuse nine to eight in the frame; however, they were stifled by Crunch netminder Kevin Lalande (33 saves), who made a quality save on a Brodie Dupont stuff-in attempt.  Lalande also received help from the crossbar, as an Andres Ambühl drive went high.

Lalande posted another perfect period in a scoreless second, making 13 saves in a period that once again saw the Crunch outshot, 13-8, by Hartford.

Paul Crowder and P.A. Parenteau both had quality chances turned away by Lalande, but the Wolf Pack’s best opportunity of the period once again found the post, as Derek Couture rang a shot off the inside of the pipe to Lalande’s right, and briefly appeared to have tied the game, at the nine-minute mark.

Johnson matched Lalande with a clean period of his own, stopping eight Syracuse shots, including a save on Mike Radja, who had a pair of goals in the Crunch’s 6-3 win over Albany Saturday night.

The Wolf Pack finally broke through at 11:08 of the third, as Heikkinen put a wrist shot past Lalande that tipped off of the goaltender’s glove and into the net.  Team leading scorer Locke (16-28-44) and Parenteau earned the assists on the goal, as Locke passed across to Parenteau, who then dished to Heikkinen coming down the left wing.

With less than two minutes remaining, Dale Weise then had a chance to give the Wolf Pack the lead, but shot wide on a pass from behind the net off the stick of Evgeny Grachev, sending the two teams to overtime.

Neither team could muster any offense in the extra session, and the Wolf Pack were held without a shot in the OT.

The shootout was a different story, as Hartford beat Lalande on all three of their tiebreaker opportunities.  Parenteau and Heikkinen both added to the shootout winner by Locke, who fooled Lalande with a backhand move.

Johnson stopped all three of the Crunch’s shooters to earn his first win in the shootout in three opportunities as a professional, as well as the first for the Wolf Pack in five tries this this season.

“It wasn’t a great start,” said Gernander.  “But the guys stuck with it and were able to grind out a win.”

“We battled hard,” said Hartford Captain Dane Byers.  “These are the types of games you have to win throughout the year.”

The victory improved the Wolf Pack to 19-13-1-4 and 43 points, and the Pack moved into sole possession of fourth place in the Atlantic Division.  The triumph was Hartford’s second straight when trailing after two periods, after starting the season 0-11-0-2 in that situation.

The Wolf Pack will face the Lowell Devils in their next action, taking place Wednesday night at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.  Hartford’s next home contest will come on Jan. 16, versus the Providence Bruins at XL Center (7:00).

Syracuse Crunch 1 At Hartford Wolf Pack 2 (SO)
Jan 3, 2010 – XL Center Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Syracuse 1 0 0 0 – 1
Hartford 0 0 1 0 – 2

1st Period-1, Syracuse, Aulin 9 (Fritsche), 8:28. Penalties-Parenteau Hfd (high-sticking), 1:02; Mayorov Syr (hooking), 10:20; LaVallee-Smotherman Syr (elbowing, fighting), 13:28; DiDiomete Hfd (fighting), 13:28.

2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Byers Hfd (slashing), 10:31; Urquhart Hfd (interference), 14:32; Battaglia Syr (tripping), 16:12.

3rd Period-2, Hartford, Heikkinen 6 (Locke, Parenteau), 11:08. Penalties-Potter Hfd (hooking), 7:00; Ferguson Syr (fighting), 10:27; DiDiomete Hfd (fighting), 10:27; Blunden Syr (fighting), 17:26; Sauer Hfd (fighting), 17:26.

OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties

Shootout – Syracuse 0 (Aulin NG, Battaglia NG, MacKenzie NG), Hartford 3 (Locke G, Parenteau G, Heikkinen G).
Shots on Goal-Syracuse 8-8-10-5-0-31. Hartford 9-13-12-0-1-35.
Power Play Opportunities-Syracuse 0 of 4; Hartford 0 of 3.
Goalies-Syracuse, Lalande 8-9-2 (34 shots-33 saves). Hartford, Johnson 12-7-2 (31 shots-30 saves).
A-3,322
Referees-Chris Brown (86).
Linesmen-David Spannaus (8), Luke Galvin (2).

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