Thus far, the 2009-2010 season hasn’t been a very remarkable one for Hartford Wolf Pack forward Brodie Dupont. The third year forward was moved out of his natural position at left wing early in the campaign in order to fill a gaping hole in the middle that was left when Patrick Rissmiller was banished to Grand Rapids and Tyler Arnason defected to Russia. A third round pick of the New York Rangers in 2005, Dupont has performed admirably in the role of checking center for the Pack, facing opposing team’s top scorers most nights. But it’s come at the detriment of his offensive numbers: through his first 49 games Dupont had scored only eight goals and eight assists, well off last season’s 42-point pace.
On Wednesday, he proved he hasn’t forgotten how to put the puck in the net, scoring once in regulation and then giving the Wolf Pack its league-best eighth overtime victory with a goal with only 19.9 seconds remaining in the extra period.
The 3-2 victory over the Lowell Devils broke the Wolf Pack’s five game winless streak and moved them into sole possession of fifth place in the AHL’s Atlantic Division, two points ahead of the idle Bridgeport Sound Tigers and three points behind the fourth place Portland Pirates, who hold two games in hand.
Matt Zaba was stellar, breaking a personal futility streak of four straight losses by stopping 37 shots through regulation and overtime to earn the game’s second star honors.
The Devils got on the board first, late in the opening period. Tim Sestito broke in on a two-on-one with teammate Nick Palmieri and beat Zaba on the short side with a wrist shot from the left faceoff dot. The power play goal came at 16:19 of a first period in which the Devils outshot the their guests 13-10.
The shot disparity was even more pronounced in the second period. Yet despite being outshot 12-5 in the frame, it was the Wolf Pack that got the period’s lone goal at 4:14 when Derek Couture shoveled Jordan Owens‘ centering pass past Lowell netminder Mike McKenna. It was one of two assists earned in the game by Owens. Devin DiDiomete picked up the secondary assist, giving him his second point — both assists — in 27 games this season.
The Pack’s power play had started to show signs of life lately, going 3-for-13 over the last three games. It took seven tries for it to capitalize on Wednesday, finally breaking through on the club’s final power play of the game. Dupont earned his first of the game and ninth of the season when he deflected Corey Locke’s centering pass from the bottom of the right circle past goaltender McKenna to give the Wolf Pack a 2-1 lead.
The home side continued to pour on the pressure late in the third, earning another 13-10 advantage in shots. Their persistence paid off, when, with only 1:07 remaining in regulation and McKenna on the bench for the extra attacker, Nathan Perkovich deflected Corey Murphy’s point shot over Zaba to tie the score at two. The Devils scored again as the final buzzer sounded, but it was deemed that the puck crossed the line after time had run out.
The late tying tally and near game-winner after the buzzer might have discouraged some teams, but the Wolf Pack, which once again played without five injured regulars on the blueline and three wingers up front, focused instead on their confidence-boosting 7-2 overtime record. And with only 19.9 seconds remaining in OT, Dupont became the sixth Wolf Pack forward to score in extra time this season, taking Owens’ centering pass in the high slot and beating McKenna high on the glove side with a wrist shot.
Next up, the Pack travel to Norfolk for back-to-back games Friday and Saturday against the Norfolk Admirals. Game time for both contests is 7:15pm.
- The game was played before an announced crowd of 5,458 at the Prudential Center in Newark, home of the baby Devils’ parent club and namesake. That’s almost five times the average attendance for a Devils home game in Lowell, and nearly 2,200 more than attended a game between these same two clubs at the Prudential Center a month ago, on a night when the Rangers were also playing at home.
- Wolf Pack General Manager Jim Schoenfeld and Adam Graves were on hand, as was Atlanta Thrashers associate GM Rick Dudley, according to Devil’s beat writer Tom Gulitti.
1. LOW Sestito, (15) (Palmieri), 16:19 (PP)
2. HFD Couture, (6) (Owens, DiDiomete), 4:14
3. HFD Dupont, (9) (Locke, Byers), 12:16 (PP)
3. LOW Perkovich, (12) (Murphy, Taormina), 18:53
OT. HFD Dupont, (10) (Owens), 4:40
1. Brodie Dupont
2. Matt Zaba
3. Nathan Perkovich
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