The Hartford Wolf Pack won the first two periods on the road against the first place Manchester Monarchs playing close to the vest possession hockey. The visitors entered the third period leading 1-0. Unfortunately for the Hartford Wolf Pack there are three periods in hockey and had a terrible third period allowing two goals in a span of just 2:27 giving the Monarchs a 2-1 win Wednesday night.
So much for their four game winning streak and for that matter their power play winning games for them. The Pack were only able to convert on one of their five power play opportunities and for the first time on the man-advantage seemed out of sync and unsure about what they wanted to do. They also were far too cute in their passes, when shots on goal was what made them, coming into the game, the best power play unit in the AHL.
The Pack controlled the first period by attacking the net. At 5:35 of the first period, P.A. Parenteau had an amazing opportunity after some terrific passing and nifty skating that got him behind the defense. However, Monarch starting netminder Jonathan Bernier came up with a huge stop with the right foot that snuffed out the Pack’s best chance in the period (see photo to the left). The pressure on the Monarchs led to three power play opportunities that all went for naught.
It would be the fourth try at just :32 of the second period, when Juraj Mikus took his second consecutive penalty, that the Pack would finally cash in.
Parenteau was down low on the left side. The Hull, Quebec native made a perfect cross crease pass to center Corey Locke on the right. With Evgeny Grachev in front of the crease, Locke attempted to fire it back over to Parenteau, but it got hung up in the traffic in front. Grachev wrestled the puck from fellow Russian Viatcheslav Voynov and flipped it towards Parenteau. The AHL’s top goal scorer knew just what to do with the opportunity and fired it right behind Bernier for his tenth of the season. With his 13th assist on the play, Locke continued as the AHL’s leading point getter with 22 (9g, 12a). Parenteau is second with 20 (10g, 10a).
Bernier came up huge a second time when he denied Parenteau’s second goal attempt but batting the puck out of the air with the butt end of his stick.
There’s an old saying that it’s better to be lucky than good. The Monarchs had both Wednesday night. Bernier was tremendous, but they were also lucky as well. As the second period was ending, Ilkka Heikkinen fired a hard shot form the left point that hit a crowd of players in front of the net, deflected into the air and flipped into the net behind Bernier as the clock expired. The goal was immediately waved off by referee Mark Lemelin as having gone into the net after time expired. (Editor’s note…The fact that a puck that’s still in the air from a shot taken prior to the buzzer sounding and NOT counting as a goal when it goes into the net because it hadn’t landed before the horn sounded has to be the dumbest rule in any sport. For example basketball runs on a single question concerning this issue, “Was the shot taken prior to the clock hitting zeros.” That’s the way it should be. It’s called common sense and ultimately in this contest, it cost the Pack two points.)
At the end of the second period, the Pack were outshooting the L.A. King’s top farm team 22-11.
But the wheels came off the bus in the third period.
Corey Potter had taken an interference call at 19:08 of the second period so the Pack started the period with their VERY suspect penalty killing units for the fourth time. It only took Manchester 54 seconds to cash in. Monarch defenseman Andrew Campbell saw from his left point position that the Pack’s Ryan Garlock had his back turned to him and that Mathieu Dandenault was out of position and too far over to the right. The second year defenseman from Caledonia, Ontario read it perfectly and snuck down the left side behind the play. Andrei Loktionov, who is off to an amazing start in his rookie season with five goals and nine assists for fourteen points in fourteen games, saw the same thing and made a perfect tape-to-tape, cross-crease pass that Campbell buried behind Pack starter Chad Johnson.
The Pack would surrender the game winner just 2:27 later when what seemed like a routine shot form the right side by Voynov seemed to hit Pack defenseman Nigel Williams and changed directions and got past Johnson at 3:21.
From there the Pack tried in vain to mount some sort of offensive pressure, but three straight penalties pretty much killed any chance that they had of getting themselves the equalizer.
The Pack were badly outshot in the third period 16-3 and finished the game outshooting Manchester 27-24. That proves to be very little consolation for a team that dropped a four point game against the first place rival.
The two teams lock up again on Friday night at the XL Center at 7pm.
Bob Crawford relays the view from the broadcast booth at Hartfordwolfpack.com. For the Manchester perspective, Ian Clark was on hand and tells the story from the Manchester perspective at UnionLeader.com. By the way, Clark incorrectly states that the second period ending shot came from Dandenault. It was Heikkinen.
* This broadcast had to have the single worst camera work I have ever seen for any broadcast ever. At times you couldn’t see the action. Cameras jumped all over the place and many times the action occurred outside the camera lens and the direction seemed like something that you’d see on public access. The Monarchs should be thoroughly embarrassed by it.
* If you’re looking for a positive to take out of this game, the Pack penalty killers actually improved themselves in this one moving from 28th of 29 up to 27th with a six for seven night. They went from 74.6% to 75.7%.
* Conversely, the power play dropped from 29.4% to 28.8% which is still good for tops in the AHL.
Hot and Cold:
Parenteau – 7 game scoring streak (6g, 7a, 13 points in the span)
Locke – 5 game scoring streak (3g, 9a, 12 points in the span)
Johnson, first loss in 5 starts only allowing 8 goals and has a shutout over the span.
Corey Potter – no points in 6 games
Heikkinen – quiet with no points over the last 3
* In the four game win streak the Pack out scored their opponents 19-6.
* This was the Pack’s first loss after leading after one, (5-1-0-0) and after heading into the third period. They are now 7-1-0-0 in such scenarios.
* Interestingly they are 4-6-0-0 when outshooting their opponents and 4-1-0-0 when they are out shot. So much for the value of that stat.
* The Pack are 3-3-0-0 in one goal games
Owens – Locke – Parenteau
Grachev – Dupont - Weise
Soryal – Crowder - Couture
Garlock – Crowder - Ambuhl
Williams – Dandenault
Potter - Henley
Heikkinen - Sanguinetti
(Assistant Captains Italicized)
Dane Byers – Recall with NY Rangers
Devin DiDiomete – Conditioning in Charlotte
Dave Urquhart – Healthy
Michael Sauer - Healthy
1. MCH - 76 Viatcheslav Voynov
2. MCH - 2 Andrew Campbell
3. HFD - 17 Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau
ON ICE OFFICIALS:
Mark Lemelin (84), Referee
Joe Andrews (32), Linesman
Landon Bathe (80), Linesman
The Pack play another of their six back-to-back games against the same team as they will host Manchester in Hartford Friday night.
Hartford 0 1 0 - 1
Manchester 0 0 2 - 2
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Bagnall Mch (hooking), 4:08; Owens Hfd (interference), 7:44; Clune Mch (holding), 12:56; Mikus Mch (slashing), 17:56.
2nd Period-1, Hartford, Parenteau 10 (Grachev, Locke), 1:49 (pp). Penalties-Mikus Mch (tripping), 0:32; Williams Hfd (hooking), 4:01; Segal Mch (roughing), 13:39; Ambuhl Hfd (goaltender interference), 16:44; Potter Hfd (interference), 19:08.
3rd Period-2, Manchester, Campbell 1 (Loktionov, Moller), 0:54 (pp). 3, Manchester, Voynov 4 (Azevedo, Mikus), 3:21. Penalties-Locke Hfd (interference), 3:42; Dupont Hfd (interference), 9:04; Crowder Hfd (high-sticking), 12:52.
Shots on Goal-Hartford 9-13-5-27. Manchester 5-6-13-24.
Power Play Opportunities-Hartford 1 of 5; Manchester 1 of 7.
Goalies-Hartford, Johnson 6-4-0 (24 shots-22 saves). Manchester, Bernier 7-3-1 (27 shots-26 saves).
(Photo courtesy of David Laine via unionleader.com)