HARTFORD, CT – The streak is over, much to the Hartford Wolf Pack’s delight.
After going win-loss, win-loss for 12 consecutive games, the Wolf Pack made it two victories in a row Friday as Corey Potter and Mike Ouellette scored third-period goals to beat the Springfield Falcons 3-1 before 4,851 at the XL Center.
Potter broke a 1-1 tie when he broke in off the right point during a power play and jammed P.A. Parenteau’s pass in front past Devan Dubnyk at 1:23.
“We talked between periods about sending the defenseman backdoor to possibly get a shot,” Potter said. “P.A. just kind of feathered one in the crease and it was just kind of sitting between (Dubnyk’s) legs. Luckily I snuck in backdoor and just tapped it in.
“Our power play has been clicking pretty well lately, so it was nice to see something we talked about work out. And we’ve been striving for more consistency, so two in a row feels pretty good and hopefully we can make it third straight (tonight against Providence).”
After Miika Wiikman (22 saves) made two strong stops on Bryan Lerg, Ouellette assured the Wolf Pack would win back-to-back games for the first time since Dec. 14 and 17 when he converted a rebound after a terrific rush by Jordan Owens with 3:51 left.
“I knew Owens was going to make something happen,” Ouellette said. “He had a full head of steam and the defenseman back on his heels, and I just kind of hung back waiting for the puck for pop out. There was a guy catching up to me, so I decided to lean on his stick and finally found the back of the net. I had missed a golden opportunity on a rebound Wednesday night (in a 4-2 victory over Bridgeport), so it was nice to get some redemption.”
The Wolf Pack (21-16-2-3) were fortunate to escape the first period tied at 1 after being shorthanded four times in the opening 13:38. And veteran Shane Willis, a former Falcons captain who was re-signed Friday morning, hit the crossbar at 8:45.
The Falcons scored on their first power play when Rob Schremp’s shot from just inside the blueline went past a screened Wiikman and into the top right corner at 3:53.
After allowing only three shots during the four early shorthanded situations, the Wolf Pack took advantage of a 5-on-3 power play as Artem Anisimov’s pass through the crease found Parenteau at the left post for a quick finish past Dubnyk with 1:13 left in the period. The goal extended Parenteau’s point streak to six games (two goals, four assists).
Neither team sustained any offense in a scoreless second period, with the Falcons’ best chance coming when Wiikman had to make a diving glove save on Tyler Spurgeon’s rebound at 5:40. With 7:15 left in the period, Dubnyk denied Owens, who had rushed in around Bryan Young and then missed an ensuing open net. Then with 4:05 left, Dubnyk made a sprawling save on Tommy Pyatt’s rebound bid.
But Potter and Ouellette scored on two of the Wolf Pack’s five shots in the third period, when Wiikman made 11 of his 22 saves.
“They were buzzing around in the third, but it was nice win for the confidence,” Wiikman said.
The Wolf Pack are now 4-1-0-1 against the Falcons (14-21-5-1), who are the second-lowest scoring team in the AHL, but this was the first meeting decided by more than one goal.
“There were a few too many penalties early for our liking, but we did a pretty good job killing them and then were patient to get the (first) power-play goal to get us going,” Wolf Pack coach Ken Gernander said. “They had some good chances in the third period, but Miika stood his ground, which was good.”
So, too, was ending the win-one, lose-one streak.
“We’re striving for consistency, and all the two points are critical with the division so tight,” Gernander said. “So there comes a point where you need to string some (good) games together and get on a bit of roll.”
Former Wolf Pack defenseman Jake Taylor returned to the Falcons’ lineup after missing 28 games with a knee injury sustained against Worcester Nov. 11.
Springfield 1 0 0 — 1
Hartford 1 0 2 — 3
First period: 1. Spr, Schremp 4 (Roy, Lerg), 3:53, pp; 2. Hfd, Parenteau 17 (Anisimov, Rissmiller), 18:47, pp; Penalties: DiDiomete, Hfd (hooking), 2:42; Wiikman, Hfd (delay of game), 5:27; Soryal, Hfd (roughing), 10:46; Stefanishion, Hfd (interference), 13:38; Young, Spr (holding), 16:58; Peckham, Spr (cross-checking), 17:26; Fahey, Hfd (hooking), 19:39.
Second period: No scoring: Penalties: Taylor, Spr (roughing), 4:02; Stefanishion, Hfd (roughing), 4:02; Bordeleau, Spr (hooking), 17:23; Bordeleau, Spr (roughing), 20:00.
Third period: 3. Hfd, Potter 4 (Parenteau, Ouellette), 1:23, pp; 4. Hfd, Ouellette 7 (Owens, Potter), 16:09; Penalties: Young, Spr (elbowing, fighting), 2:51; Sauer, Hfd (fighting), 2:51; Dupont, Hfd (tripping), 13:55.
Shots on goal: Springfield 6-6-11_23, Hartford 10-10-5_25; Power-play opportunities: Springfield 1-for-6, Hartford 2-for-5; Goalies: Springfield, Dubnyk 13-17-4-1 (25 shots-22 saves), Hartford, Wiikman 15-11-2-3 (23-22); Referee: Shaun Davis; Linesmen: Derek Wahl, Frank Murphy; A: 4,851.