Wolf Pack Lose Fifth Straight
Saturday February 20th 2010, 12:30 am

The effort may have been better, but the results were the same, as the Wolf Pack lost again on Friday, 4-2 to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.  I didn’t see the game, as my husband and I were en route to Syracuse, where we’ll be on hand to witness the AHL’s first ever outdoor game tomorrow at 1:00 pm (NHL Network), but here are a few items of note from Bruce Berlet’s game wrap:

  • Bobby Sanguinetti returned to the line-up after an eleven game absence with a high ankle sprain.
  • Donald Brashear finally found a willing dance partner, in Joel Rechlicz and, according to a few opinions I’ve read, huggy bear was the winner by a narrow margin.
  • Dane Byers earned an assist on Corey Locke’s first period power play goal, giving him eight points in his last eight games.
  • Evgeny Grachev and Locke were both minus-3 in the game.
  • Chad Johnson stayed in net for the full game, after being yanked in his last two starts, and stopped 18 of 21 shots he faced.

The full wrap-up is after the jump.

Bridgeport Sound Tigers 4, Hartford Wolf Pack 2

By Bruce Berlet

Hartford, CT, February 19, 2010 – The Hartford Wolf Pack showed more energy, got better defensive coverage and goaltending, finished more checks and kept the mistakes to a minimum in a spirited encounter with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers Friday night.

But lack of success on the power play and several key breakdowns and unlucky bounces proved decisive, as Tyler Haskins and Trevor Smith scored early and late in the third period to give the Sound Tigers a 4-2 victory before 4,154 at the XL Center.

The Wolf Pack (25-25-3-4) lost their fifth in a row in regulation, tying the franchise record set from Dec. 27, 2003 to Jan. 2, 2004. The Wolf Pack are 2-9-2-0 in their last 13 starts, and the latest loss dropped them into seventh place in the Atlantic Division and four points behind the Sound Tigers (26-23-3-6) for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

“I thought we were more committed, but our margin for error isn’t very great right now so we can’t take any unnecessary penalties,” said Wolf Pack coach Ken Gernander, whose team had allowed a franchise-record 27 goals in their previous four games. “There are no small things, so we have to be completely committed and fully and mentally locked in for all 60 minutes to give ourselves a chance. If we have to allow one goal a game, then that’s what we’ll have to do to get it done.”

The Wolf Pack were 1-for-7 on the power play, failing to get a shot on their last two chances, including a double-minor for roughing to former Wolf Pack left wing Trevor Gillies at 6:10 of the third period.

In a game spiced by several scrums and other extracurricular activities, the Wolf Pack immediately improved on a 7-3 loss to Norfolk Wednesday night, when they allowed a season-high 45 shots. Gernander totally revamped his lines, partly because of the return of center Ryan Garlock from injury. All-Star defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti also returned and was paired with Ilkka Heikkinen, leaving right wing P.A. Parenteau and defensemen Michael Sauer, Mathieu Dandedault and Brent Henley as the only regulars still on the sidelines.

Meanwhile, Locke skated between Evgeny Grachev and Jordan Owens, Paul Crowder moved between captain Dane Byers and Kenny Roche, Brodie Dupont was between Justin Soryal and Dale Weise and Garlock skated with Donald Brashear and Devin DiDiomete.

“You’ve got to do what you can,” Gernander said of the line changes. “I thought we were more balanced and had more energy and a little bit more sustained pressure, but we want to generate more shots (than 22).”

The Wolf Pack got the only serious scoring chances in the opening 15 minutes, but Nathan Lawson (18 saves) made a chest stop on Crowder’s 30-foot shot from the slot at 6:50 and then made a sprawling right-pad stop on a wide-open Crowder off a centering pass from Byers, who had got the puck after Roche stole it from veteran defenseman Brendan Witt.

But with the Wolf Pack on the game’s first power play, Greg Mauldin, who tied franchise records for points (five) and assists (four) in a 6-4 victory over the Wolf Pack last Saturday, misfired on a partial breakaway with 4:35 left in the first period.

Chad Johnson (18 saves) made his first good stop at 46 seconds of the second period, denying Smith in close off a pass from Mauldin. The Wolf Pack then converted on their second power play as Byers made a diagonal pass from the left boards to the lower right circle to Locke, whose one-timer beat Lawson for his team-high 22nd goal at 4:02.

But the Sound Tigers got even seven seconds after their first power play ended, when Robin Figren passed from behind the net to Jeremy Reich for a quick shot that went in off Johnson at 7:48.

The Sound Tigers then took their first lead 10 seconds into their third power play, when Smith won a faceoff from Garlock and Mark Flood’s shot from the right point deflected off Heikkinen and past a screened Johnson at 12:25.

But off the opening faceoff of the third period, Soryal passed in front to a wide-open Dupont for an easy finish and a 2-2 tie at 22 seconds.

Only 41 seconds later, however, the Wolf Pack were unable to clear the puck from behind their own net, and Matt Martin passed 25 feet into the slot to Haskins, who got away from Grachev and beat Johnson low to the stick side to put the Sound Tigers ahead to stay.

The Wolf Pack had a golden opportunity to tie it or go ahead when Gillies received four minutes for roughing at 6:10. But they failed to get a shot on Lawson, though several were blocked by the Sound Tigers. As if that wasn’t frustrating enough, Byers twice lost the puck while being pressured a bit from behind on a shorthanded breakaway and eventually shot wide with 6:24 left.

The Wolf Pack got another power play on Smith’s boarding penalty with 2:26 to go but again failed to get a shot on goal, even after pulling Johnson with 1:05 seconds to go. When Smith came out of the penalty box, he picked up a loose puck and scored into an empty net with 14.9 seconds left.

SUMMARY

Bridgeport     0 2 2 — 4
Hartford        0 1 1 — 2
First period: No scoring. Penalties—Rechlicz, Bri (fighting), 8:54; Brashear, Hfd (fighting), 8:54; Wotton, Bri (hooking), 14:31.
Second period: 1. Hfd, Locke 22 (Byers, Williams), 4:02 (pp). 2. Bri, Reich 2 (Figren, Bentivoglio), 7:48. 3. Bri, Flood 8 (Joensuu), 12:25 (pp). Penalties—Witt, Bri (hooking), 2:38; Brashear, Hfd (roughing), 5:41; Joensuu, Bri (roughing), 6:28; Byers, Hfd (roughing), 6:28; Mauldin, Bri (roughing), 9:04; Nightingale, Hfd (roughing), 9:04; Soryal, Hfd (elbowing), 9:04; Moore, Bri (tripping), 9:37; served by DiDiomete Hfd (bench minor – too many men), 12:15; Morency, Bri (hooking), 13:27.
Third period: 4. Hfd, Dupont 12 (Soryal, Weise), 0:22. 5. Bri, Haskins 6 (Martin, Bentivoglio), 1:03. 6. Bri, Smith 17, 19:45 (en). Penalties—Gillies, Bri (roughing, roughing), 6:10; Soryal, Hfd (hooking), 11:39; Locke, Hfd (unsportsmanlike conduct), 14:14; Smith, Bri (boarding), 17:34.
Shots on goal: Bridgeport 7-10-5–22. Hartford 7-8-5–20. Power-play Opportunities: Bridgeport 1 of 5; Hartford 1 of 7; Goalies–Bridgeport, Lawson 10-11-3 (20 shots-18 saves). Hartford, Johnson 14-11-2 (21-18); A: 4,154; Referee: Ian Croft; Linesmen: Kevin Redding, Luke Galvin.

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