P.A. Parenteau scored the only goal in the shootout and the Wolf Pack once again were carried to another victory on the back of more amazing goaltending by Matt Zaba en route to a thrilling 2-1 victory over the visiting Manchester Monarchs in front of 6,636 at the XL Center Friday night.
For Parenteau, scoring high to the glove side on Manchester starter Daniel Taylor (23 saves) in the shootout was especially sweet especially given the results of his previous ten shootout attempts, all misses.
“I had my move in mind before I went,” Parenteau told reporters after the game. “I was looking to go mid-to-high glove with a lot of speed and made a quick shot. It worked out good after I’d been struggling in the shootout in my career. It was nice to finally get one and help the team get a win, especially when not much seemed to be working offensively.”
But the story of this game, as it has been in the previous six, has been the magnificent play between the pipes of rookie Matt Zaba. The Colorado College graduate has seen his seen his goals-against-average drop faster than the stock market while rising statistically to twelfth overall among all AHL goaltenders and to fourth among all rookie netminders. Zaba stopped 28 of 29 including all five he faced in the shootout. Over his last six starts (five wins) Zaba has put up some incredible stats. Zaba has stopped 186 of 193 shots for a .964 save percentage and in allowing just 7 goals over the span has posted a minuscule 1.16 goals against average. Had the Pack not been shut out 1-0 to Bridgeport on February 18th, Zaba would be 6-0 in this run of games.
Zaba, who spent the better part of the season backing up Miika Wiikman, is just trying to make the most of his opportunity. “My main focus is just trying to give the team a chance to win.” He said to reporters.
Rangers goaltending guru Benoit Allaire has had a huge effect on the play of the Yorkton, Saskatoon native. “Bennie said it’s all about practicing hard like you’re playing a game,” Zaba said. “If you’re really mentally engaged in practice, it carries over to games, so that was a key for me. Tonight the guys did a great job keeping the shots outside so I could see the puck, and that always makes the goalie’s job a lot easier.”
Head Coach Ken Gernander recognizes the contributions of his rookie netminder telling reporters after the game, “He has been playing really well for us,” he said. “He’s a decent size goalie who plays a tight, solid game. He’s square to pucks, you don’t see a lot of rebounds and he’s good at steering them into the corner. I like his demeanor because he’s got a lot of composure, and this time of year is where you like to see guys step up.”
The Pack jumped out quickly on the visiting Monarchs as they scored on a freak play just 1:05 into the first period. Defenseman Corey Potter, looking to just dump the puck in to the Manchester zone, seemed to be just harmlessly throwing the puck into the zone from behind the blue line when Monarch defenseman Alec Martinez waved his hand at it. The motion seemed to distract Taylor who missed the puck with his outstretch glove and watched it sail into the back of the net.
Sean Avery who was virtually invisible for much of the period did take a late shot on a Monarch player as time was expiring to end the period and caused a major pileup of players in the corner, but no penalties were called on the play.
At 7:55 of the second period the Monarchs would tie the score.
David Dreweskie came down from the left point to pick up a loose puck. Dreweskie got free from Moore and cut across the crease with the puck. Avery, who was defending down low, seemed like a senior citizen watching the light change, as the Monarch defenseman blew right past him. Dreweskie’s shot deflected off of Zaba’s stick across to the right side of the crease where Justin Azevedo was waiting to put it to bed past the defenseless Zaba.
A short time after the goal, Avery had the opportunity to redeem himself with a great scoring opportunity, but his breakaway shot from along the left wing missed the net.
The Monarchs had their own golden opportunity moments later. The teams were skating four-on-four for a full two minutes thanks to matching unsportsmanlike conduct calls to Manchester’s Richard Clune and Hartford’s Dale Weise. Oscar Moller got a partial breakaway off a neutral zone turnover when Brodie Dupont lost the handle on a Greg Moore pass that was snuffed out by Zaba.
At 15:31 of the second and the Pack on a five-on-three man advantage, Avery took a shot from the slot that initially appeared to cross the line. The goal light and the horn went off, but referee Ghislain Hebert immediately ruled that it was no goal. After conferring with the goal judge the call stood. Closer examination of the replay showed that the puck hit Taylor’s arm hit the post and went under the Manchester netminder but did not in fact cross the line.
Just 26 seconds later and the Pack still up a man, another scoring chance for the Pack was crushed by Taylor. This time it was Potter skating away frustrated as Taylor gobbled up his wide open shot from just outside the crease.
Taylor continued to shine in the third period wiping out solid scoring chances by Jordan Owens in the slot at 4:48 and later with David Urquhart in the penalty box for hooking, Patrick Rissmiller picked off a Brian Boyle pass along the left wing boards and broke out with Avery into the Manchester zone. Avery got ahead of Trevor Lewis and beat the right wing cruising in for a shot at Taylor. Taylor stood tall and swallowed up the puck leaving no rebound for the trailing Rissmiller to play.
Zaba then shut down opportunities by Bagnall, Azevedo in the crease and Dreweskie in the final minute to send the game into extended time.
The Pack entered the overtime period without All Star center Artem Anisimov who took a hard check by Bagnall at 5:11. Anisimov is listed with an upper body injury, but it appeared as if he had injured either his ribs or shoulder. While Anisimov did not play the rest of the game, he was well enough to board the bus for Portland. Whether he plays or not will be determined by the team prior to the start of tonight’s battle with the Pirates.
Gernander is pleased by the defensive effort by his team but does have some concern about his offense. “There wasn’t a lot of offense, which you’re pleased with from a defensive standpoint. We’d like to generate a little more, but we got the two points, and that’s most important, along with reducing some of the scoring chances we had been giving up lately.”
Parenteau summed the team’s play up saying, “We got it done, and that’s what a good team does. We’re on a roll right now.”
* The Pack went nine games above .500 for the first time this season.
* The five wins in a row is their longest this year and ties last season’s longest winning streak.
* Hartford has not won six in a row since February 16-25, 2007.
* The Pack entered the game having won their first shoot out challenge but had looked dreadful in losing their last three straight before Zaba came through for them on Friday.
* The Pack are now ranked 10th on the Power play and 14th on the penalty kill.
* If you’ve enjoyed seeing Sean Avery in a Wolf Pack uniform, this is likely to be his last game with the Pack as many of the reporters covering the Rangers have reported that Avery is likely to be claimed and then recalled by the team after Dallas puts him on reentry waivers on Monday.
* Inside the numbers: Pack are 16-5-1-1 when leading after one, 11-5-0-0 when tied after two and 17-11-1-2 when being outshot. THey also improved to 16-7-2-3 in one goal games.
Dupont – Anisimov – Parenteau @
Pyatt – Ouellette – Owens
DiDiomete – (Rotated) – Weise / Sugden
Avery – MOORE © – Rissmiller
Sanguinetti – Potter @
Denisov – Fahey
Urquhart – Sauer
Tomas Zaborsky – Healthy
Matthew Ford – Healthy
Dane Byers – Knee – Season
Justin Soryal – Hand – Month
Jared Nightingale - Healthy
1. HFD - 17 Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau
2. HFD - 30 Matt Zaba
3. MCH - 25 Justin Azevedo
ON ICE OFFICIALS:
Ghislain Hebert (49), Referee
Brent Colby (7), Linesman
Luke Galvin (2), Linesman
Portland traveled to Worcester and got back on the winning side of the ledger by beating the Sharks at the DCU Center 2-1. Providence knocked off Norfolk on the road 3-2. Scott Clemmenson returned to the Lowell nets after playing so well in NJ and beat the flightless Falcons 3-2 at the “Not-In-Need-Of–Federal-Bailout-Money” MassMutual Center in Springfield.
Rank Team GP W L OTL SOL PTS
|2||Hartford Wolf Pack||60||32||23||2||3||69|
After losing to the Pack, the Monarchs travel to Lowell to face Scott Clemmenson and the Devils. Meanwhile Springfield tries to keep Worcester on the outside looking in at the playoffs, while first place Providence travels to the City of Brotherly Love to take on the Phantoms.
The Pack boarded the bus after last night’s shoot out winner and went up to Maine for what will most likely be Sean Avery’s last game with the team. The Pack take on the Kevin Dineen’s stumbling Portland Pirates at the Cumberland County Civic Center tonight at 7pm.
It’s your last chance to register to be a part of the Pack’s Tip-A-Player Dinner & Sports Carnival taking place tomorrow night from 4-7pm. You’ll get a chance to meet Sean Avery before he heads up to NY. For more information, visit this previous posting on Howlings.