Allentown, PA – – The Hartford Wolf Pack finished the first quarter of their season with a 3-1 win Saturday night over the Atlantic Division-leading Lehigh Valley Phantoms at the PPL Center.
The Wolf Pack (6-10-3-0, 15 pts.) built a 3-0 lead on goals by Nicklas Jensen, Matt Carey and Chris Brown, and Magnus Hellberg only allowed a late second-period goal by Phantom defenseman Samuel Morin.
Justin Fontaine and Ryan Graves had two assists each for the Wolf Pack, who had let a 3-1 third-period lead slip away the night before, in a 4-3 overtime loss at home to the Albany Devils.
“I think we learned a little bit from [Friday] night,” Mat Bodie, the Wolf Pack captain, said. “[Friday] night we had a chance to get those two points and it didn’t come out that way. We came out and we didn’t dwell on [Friday] night. Getting the lead is huge, it’s nice playing with the lead, and then I thought the guys did a great job of sticking with it throughout the sixty minutes.”
The Wolf Pack got out to a fast start in the first period, scoring on two of their first three shots against Phantom goaltender Alex Lyon (22 saves), the former Yale University star.
Jensen opened the scoring on the game’s first shot only 44 seconds in. Fontaine sent Jensen on a rush down right wing, and Jensen made a slick move to get away from Lehigh Valley defenseman Will O’Neill. After he got free, Jensen deked backhand-to-forehand and slid the puck past Lyon.
Carey made it 2-0 for the Wolf Pack at 7:36 on a rebound. Fontaine again started the play, carrying into the Phantom end on the left side and curling back. Fontaine fed a pass to Graves at the top of the slot, and his drive was stopped by Lyon, who did not realize that the puck had squirted away to his left. Carey was alone there, and he was easily able to put it into the net.
The Wolf Pack made it a 3-0 advantage on their first power play of the game, which came as the result of a tripping penalty against Colin McDonald at 4:45 of the second period.
Graves passed the puck to Bodie at the left point, and Brown deflected Bodie’s slap shot past Lyon.
The Phantoms foiled Hellberg’s shutout bid with 3:10 left in the second, on Morin’s first goal of the season. Greg Carey slid a backhanded pass across the middle to Morin at the left side of the slot, and Morin unloaded a slap shot that got by Hellberg on his stick side.
Lehigh Valley could get no closer, though, with Hellberg perfect on nine Phantom shots in the third to finish with 31 saves on the night.