Circumstances (mostly work and Rangers games) have conspired to prevent me from watching and/or blogging entire Hartford Wolf Pack games, but I’m back in the saddle tonight hoping to bring a little bit of luck to the Pack, who are now winless in a franchise record eight straight games.
Tonight’s opponent is the nearby Bridgeport Sound Tigers, who enter the game with a 4-6-0-0 record, a point behind the 3-7-2-1 Wolf Pack in the Atlantic Division standings, but only by virtue of playing three fewer games. The teams have met once previously this season, with a 2-1 decision going the Wolf Pack’s way on October 16th.
Cam Talbot, back from a groin injury suffered in his first start on October 17th — a 3-0 shutout — will be in net for the Wolf Pack. Fellow rookie Kevin Poulin will be in goal for the Sound Tigers.
Puck drops at 7:05pm
Wolf Pack Scratches
Dupont – Kennedy – Zuccarello
Byers – Newbury – Williams
DiDiomete – Garlock – Donati
Soryal – McKelvie
Redden – Nightingale
Valentenko – Baldwin
McDonagh – Kundratek
Talbot / Johnson
1:25 – The usually slow-starting Pack showing a little more jump to start this contest, with Tim Kennedy and Brodie Dupont getting an early 2-on-1 chance. Poulin makes the save.
6:18 – Pack have spent the majority of the first six minutes of the game in the Bridgeport zone, earning a 5-2 advantage in shots.
10:00 – Sound Tigers finding their legs: hem the Kennedy line in their own zone for an entire shift, leading to a good scoring chance for Justin DiBenedeto, which is stopped by Talbot.
11:35 – Jean Bourbeau catches Pavel Valentenko with his lead down along the right boards and steamrolls him. Valentenko stays down. Captain Dane Byers goes after Bourbeau and destroys him in a fight, but takes an extra two for roughing. Valentenko makes it to the Pack bench under his own steam.
11:49 – That didn’t take long. In a goal-mouth scramble Jon Sim gives the Sound Tigers a 1-0 lead on the power play, finding the puck behind Talbot’s pads and sweeping it home. Assists to Rob Hisey and Rhett Rakhshani.
12:08 – The Pack with a chance to get it right back; Travis Hamonic goes off for high-sticking.
14:08 – Bridgeport kill it off.
15:00 – Valentenko back on the ice, no worse for wear after getting levelled by Bourbeau.
16:10 – The first line of Dupont – Kennedy – Matts Zuccarello easily has the Pack’s best offensive chances so far. But they can be a bit of an adventure in their own zone.
18:04 – Actually, the entire team is a bit of an adventure in their own zone right now. Sloppy defensive play leading to way too many quality scoring chances for the Sound Tigers. Talbot forced to make 3-4 high-quality saves. Bridgeport now out-shooting Hartford 12-8.
End of First – Pack fortunate to escape the period only down by one after spending the final six minutes of the period in their own zone. Bridgeport finished the period with a 13-8 shot advantage.
0:45 – Jared Nightingale fails to clear the zone and turns the puck over to Hisey along the right side boards. Sim gets his second goal of the game on a deflection of Hisey’s point shot, making it 2-0 Sound Tigers. Assists go to Hisey and Hamonic.
4:10 – And the wheels are falling off for the Wolf Pack (again). Tony Romano wraps the puck around the left post and it sqeezes between Talbot’s pad and the post. 3-0 Bridgeport. Unassisted goal for Romano, his first point of the season. (Update: Assist added to tough-guy Jeremy Yablonski after the fact.)
5:30 – The Byers – Kris Newbury – Jeremy Williams line with a strong shift. Get multiple whacks at the puck but Poulin shuts the door.
10:46 – Sloppy, sloppy Pack passing at the Bridgeport blueline leading to multiple counter-attacks for the Sound Tigers.
12:35 – Dupont – Kennedy – Zuccarello get a good chance 3-on-2 with Zuccarello firing the first shot and Dupont getting the rebound. Poulin stops them both.
12:50 – Justin Soryal takes on Bourbeau and scores the easy decision in a spirited bout. Bourbeau’s best blow comes with Soryal on the ice. Bourbeau goes to the locker room for repairs, Soryal goes to the box.
12:55 – It’s fight night at the Arena at Harbor Yard! Nightingale — perhaps unwisely — takes on heavyweight Yablonski and gets his ass kicked.
14:29 – Poulin robs Jeremy Williams point blank.
17:45 – Pack crash the crease and the Sound Tigers take exception. After one too many shoves by DiBenedeto, Kennedy drops the gloves and the two try to throw punches over the linesman. Bizarrely Poulin either goes after Kennedy as well or was trying to pull him off DiBenedeto. Pack end up with a power play.
19:40 – When your second power play unit is comprised of Brodie Dupont, Devin DiDiomete and Tyler Donati, you know you’re in trouble. This team is absolutely devoid of scoring depth.
End of Second: Soryal’s fight definitely lit a fire under the Wolf Pack, but Poulin had the answer for everything they threw his way. Wolf Pack finished the period with a 7-5 advantage in shots, but Bridgeport had the better quality chances thanks primarily to Wolf Pack mistakes and turnovers.
2:00 - The Milford Photo “Shot of the Game” was the punch Bourbeau threw when Soryal was down on the ice. Way to celebrate a guy being a tool, Bridgeport.
6:10 – After three strong shifts in a row, the Pack finally get on the board. DiDiomete gets his second of the season by banging home a rebound with assists going to Wade Redden and Ryan Garlock. 3-1 Bridgeport.
12:32 – More sloppy break-outs lead to multiple shots — with deflections — for the Sound Tigers. Talbot makes the stop on one and the second sails by just wide of the post.
13:03 – Williams flies down the left side boards and nearly surprises Poulin with a sharp-angle shot, but Poulin holds the post.
15:37 – Byers’ rebound attempt stopped by Poulin after back-to-back good shifts for the Wolf Pack.
14:02 – Ex-Pack Dylan Reese falls down, allowing Zuccarello to steal the puck just inside the Bridgeport blueline, but his shot goes high and wide.
17:19 – Jeremy Colliton pushes Ryan McDonagh into the end boards awkwardly. McDonagh stays down and Colliton goes off for interference. McDonagh up and trying to skate off, favoring right leg.
18: 49 – Redden skates in the back door all alone with the puck, has Poulin down and out but never even gets a shot off.
19:36 – Jesse Joenseu breaks out two-on-one with Romano and puts it in the empty net. 4-1 Bridgeport, assist to Romano.
19:50 – Donati with a hard, high shot, but Poulin flashes out the glove to make the save.
End of game: And that’s all she wrote. The 4-1 loss extends the Wolf Pack’s franchise-worst winless streak to nine games. And with Providence defeating Portland in overtime, Hartford now find themselves at the bottom of the Atlantic Division, just four points better than the league-worst Adirondack Phantoms.
To their credit Hartford battled for an 8-6 advantage in shots in the period, finishing with a 27-26 lead over 60 minutes. But couldn’t get get the puck past Poulin.
While lack of scoring is the obvious problem, the root of the Wolf Pack’s scoring woes may actually lie with the defense, which is incapable of triggering a successful break out and susceptible to being pressured into giveaways at either blueline. For their part, the forwards aren’t nearly aggressive enough on the forecheck and are rarely able to generate offense that way. And when they do get chances, everyone’s gripping their sticks so tightly the shots either get shanked or sail wide. In goal, Talbot, who was perfect in his first start, looked more pedestrian in his second. He wasn’t bad, but like his goaltending partner Chad Johnson, he was unable to come up with the spectacular, game-saving save at the right moment.
1. BRI Sim, (4) (Rakhshani, Hisey), 11:49 (PP)
2. BRI Sim, (5) (Hisey, Hamonic), 0:45
2. BRI Romano, (1) (Yablonski), 4:10
3. HFD DiDiomete, (2) (Redden, Garlock), 6:10
3. BRI Joensuu, (3) (Romano, Colliton), 19:36 (EN)
1. Jon Sim
2. Kevin Poulin
3. Rob Hisey
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