Live Blog: Hartford Wolf Pack @ Bridgeport Sound Tigers
Saturday October 16th 2010, 6:09 pm

The Wolf Pack visit their in-state rivals in nearby Bridgeport tonight off the back of a 3-2 shootout loss to the Albany Devils on Friday night.  Friday’s contest was one of firsts, as both salary cap victim Wade Redden and Euro free agent hopeful Matts Zuccarello each tallied the first AHL goals of their career.  Zuccarello added a goal in the shootout on a sweet backhand move, but his marker was matched by that of Devils prospect Mattias Tedenby.  The goalies ruled the day until the sixth round of the skills competition, when Stephen Gionta beat Hartford netminder Chad Johnson (29 saves) with a quick snapshot from in close.

And so the Pack enter tonight’s match-up with a 1-1-0-1 record, good for a tie for third in the Atlantic Division.  The Sound Tigers are off to a 1-2-0-0 start, which leaves them in the Atlantic Division basement with the Manchester Monarchs.  But hey, it’s only three games into the season, so we’re talking about a single point difference between the squads.

Game time is 7:00pm EST.  Back with more then…

Pre-Game

  • Looks like the injury epidemic isn’t confined to New York. Dale Weise will miss tonight’s game with an undisclosed injury which could keep him out “a couple of weeks.” Brandon Wong will take Weise’s place in the line-up tonight.
  • Your goaltending match-up for the evening: Bridgeport’s Mikko Koskinen (1-1-1-0, 2.90GAA, .903 SV%) faces Hartford’s Chad Johnson (1-1-0-1, 2.62GAA, .901 SV%).
  • Scratches: Weise (undisclosed); Jared Nightingale (foot infection); Devin DiDiomete (hip surgery); Lee Baldwin (healthy).

First Period

3:44 – Wolf Pack get the game’s first power play as Dustin Kohn goes off for roughing up Jeremy Williams near the benches.

5:54 – Pack power play off to a slow start.  Decent possession in the second half with the Evgeny GrachevTim KennedyZuccarello line on the ice, but they fail to get a shot on goal.  Jyri Niemi’s one-time blast from the right point, the best chance, goes high and wide as time runs down.

8:46 – Pushing and shoving at the benches.  Dane Byers, as he was limping off the ice after blocking a shot, gets tied up with Robin FigrenTomas Marcinko steps in, and Byers gets the short straw, drawing a double minor to Marcinko’s single minor for roughing.

9:06 – Kris Newbury gets whistled for boarding and drops the gloves with ex-Ranger draft pick Dylan Reese. More of a wrestling match than a fight.  End result: Pack go two men short for 1:40.  A year later, coach Gernander’s preaching about discipline still appears to be falling on deaf ears.

10:20 – Kennedy doing a fantastic job as the lone forward on the 5-on-3 kill.

11:06 – All penalties killed.

13:31 – Isles prospect Travis Hamonic bizarrely opts to drop the gloves with tough guy Justin Soryal.  Linesmen, perhaps realizing the massive mismatch, jump in almost immediately.

15:06 – Bridgeport get tagged for having too many men on the ice. Pack back on the power play.

16:46 – Ryan McDonagh’s the recipient of a brutal giveaway at the top of the circles, but his point-blank slapshot goes wide.

16:06 – Penalty over, teams back at full strength.

17:50 – Zuccarello get double teamed at the benches as he was going for a change. Pushing and shoving ensues, he pushes right back.  Things break up and play goes on.

19:32 – Bridgeport pouring on the pressure; get a number of chances.  Johnson having trouble holding on his rebounds. In the chaos, Chris McKelvie gets caught for a hook.

19:51 – Byers gets a step on David Ullstrom shorthanded and Ullstrom is forced to take an interference call.  Four-on-four for 1:41 to start the second period.

End of first – Lots of penalties, not a lot of scoring chances.  The Sound Tigers got the best chances, a pair of flurries around the net in the final two minutes of the period on back-to-back shifts, but Johnson held them at bay.  Shots for the period were 10-7 in Bridgeport’s favor.

Second Period

0:35 – Rhett Rakhshani and Redden bowl into Johnson and Rakshani gets the goaltender interference call.  Four-on-three hockey coming up.

1:28 – Jeremy Williams takes a feed from Redden at the top of the left circle and blasts a one-timer through Koskinen, short side.  1-0 Wolf Pack. Redden and Kennedy get the assists.  That’s Kennedy’s first point since his demotion.

5:00 – It’s like watching a totally different game from the first period.  Lots of scoring chances, with the majority going to the Wolf Pack, including two great chances for former Islander prospect Niemi.

9:49 – McKelvie’s giveaway turns into a point-blank scoring chance for the Sound Tigers, but after Johnson makes the save, Marcinko gets whistled for a slash, sending Hartford back on the power play.

10:14 – Grachev, from behind the net, sets up Kennedy in the slot, but Koskinen makes the stop.  Then Matt Martin decks Kennedy from behind after the whistle, but no call is made.

11:49 – Bridgeport gets a flurry of chances as the penalty expires.

15:43 – McDonagh’s a lot more involved offensively than he has in the first three games.  Looks to be settling in a bit.  Of course, no sooner than I start typing that, he gets beat down the right boards.

18:50 – Grachev looks a split-second slow in everything he does.  He’s holding on to the puck too long before shots and passes and paying for it with giveaways again and again.

19:28 – Newbury goes for tripping with 32 seconds remaining in the period.  Bridgeport will start the final period with 1:28 of power play time.

End of Second – Fewer penalties, a lot more quality scoring chances.  Might as well have been two different teams on the ice compared to the first period.  Faster pace, more hitting, more scoring chances.  Shots in the period flip-flop from the first, with the Pack getting 10 to Bridgeport’s 7.

Third Period

1:28 – Newbury out of the box.  Hartford improves to 4-for-4 on the PK tonight.

5:17 – Another good scoring chance for McDonagh, but Koskinen stops his wrist shot from the top of the left circle.

6:?? – Another giveaway by Grachev in his own zone, but the defense plays it well and prevents a scoring chance.

7:17 – McDonagh gets stripped of the puck high in the Pack zone by Anton Klementiev; Johnson makes the first save but Rakhshani puts the rebound over his shoulder. We’re tied at 1.

14:43 – The puck is in the Bridgeport net, but it got there from behind when the goal was pushed forward and it slid in underneath.  Teams trading chances, but still knotted at 1.

15:02 – Maybe I should criticize Grachev more often.  The big Russian carries it up the right side boards, through two Bridgeport players, and feeds Zuccarello in the high slot.  Zuccarello wrists a bullet past Koskinen’s glove for his second goal in as many games. 2-1 Wolf Pack. Grachev with the lone assist.

15:50 – First line buzzing in the Bridgeport zone, but Byers gets whistled for a trip.  Last night it was Dupont with a late penalty, tonight it’s Byers. Both vets who should know better.  Time out Sound Tigers.

16:32 – Johnson makes tough stops on a pair of Sound Tigers chances look easy.

17:50 – Penalty expires, Byers out of the box.

19:15 – Bridgeport net is empty.  Valentenko and McDonagh out together on D.

End of third – The Wolf Pack hold on earn their second win of the season by a 2-1 score.  There were a few scrambly moments towards the end, but Bridgeport had trouble getting the puck through to the net.  Johnson earns first star honors, though I’m not sure he really had enough work to earn it (not that 21 saves is anything to sneeze at).  The Pack had the edge in shots in the third period, 10-5, for a 27-22 advantage in the game.

Highlights from the game are available from the Sound Tigers web site.

Scoring
2. HFD Williams, (2) (Redden, Kennedy), 1:28 (PP)
3. BRI Rakhshani, (1) (Klementyev, Wotton), 7:17
3. HFD Zuccarello, (2) (Grachev), 15:02

Lines
Dane Byers – Kris Newbury – Jeremy Williams
Evgeny Grachev – Tim Kennedy – Matts Zuccarello
Brodie Dupont – Brandon Wong – Kelsey Tessier
Justin Soryal – Ryan Garlock – Chris McKelvie

Wade Redden – Jyri Niemi
Pavel Valentenko – Nigel Williams
Ryan McDonagh – Tomas Kundratek

Johnson / Talbot

Three Stars

1. Johnson
2. Rakhshani
3. Zuccarello

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