Marek Hrivik had a shorthanded goal and an assist, and Boo Nieves scored the third period game-winner Saturday night, as the Wolf Pack defeated the Toronto Marlies 3-2, in the first of back-to-back games between the two teams at Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto.
Magnus Hellberg made 27 saves in the Wolf Pack net, and Justin Fontaine also scored for Hartford. William Wrenn and Kasperi Kapanen had the Marlies’ goals, and Garret Sparks made 27 stops.
The win gave the Wolf Pack their first winning streak of the season, coming on the heels of Hartford’s 3-1 victory last Saturday at Lehigh Valley.
“We buried a couple of chances we had there early in the game, and we kind of held on,” Hrivik said. “We had a really good first period, a lot of shots, and they had a really good pushback the last two periods, but we held the lead and won the game.”
The Wolf Pack outshot the Marlies 15-9 in the opening period and scored a pair of special teams goals.
Fontaine gave the Wolf Pack the game’s first lead on a power play at 10:56, with Justin Holl in the penalty box for high-sticking. John Gilmour fed the puck from the right point to Hrivik at the bottom of the circle, and Hrivik found Fontaine streaking down the slot. Fontaine snapped a close-range shot past Sparks from close range.
Hrivik then scored the Wolf Pack’s second shorthanded goal of the season with 25.5 seconds remaining in the period and Tanner Glass in the box for boarding.
Nicklas Jensen blocked a pass in the Wolf Pack zone and then outraced the Marlies to the loose puck in the Toronto end. Rushing down the left side, Jensen passed the puck across the slot to a wide-open Hrivik, and Sparks had no chance on Hrivik’s one-timer.
After a scoreless second period, Nieves tallied his second goal of the season 3:33 into the third, on a fine individual effort. Nieves knocked the puck away from Viktor Loov at the left point in the Wolf Pack end, and then grabbed it and raced away through center ice. Inside the Toronto zone, Nieves got a step on a pair of Marlie defenders, cut across the slot and put a forehand shot past Sparks’ stick side.
That would turn out to be an important goal, as Toronto would recover to get the next two.
Just 2:01 after Nieves’ goal, at 5:34, Wrenn would ruin Hellberg’s shutout bid with his first Marlie point, a goal that would require a video review.
Wrenn got a feed from Kerby Rychel and put a close-in backhander on goal. Hellberg got a piece of the shot but it trickled through him and behind the Wolf Pack goaltender, before the puck was swept away by Hartford defenseman Ryan Graves. After the initial call was no goal, referees Ryan Hersey and Nick Gill reviewed the play on video, and ruled that the puck had gone just across the goal line before Graves got to it.
Then, on a power play at 11:53, with Malte Stromwall off for interference, Kapanen brought the Marlies to within one with his tenth goal of the season. Brendan Leipsic passed cross-ice to Kapanen at the left faceoff dot, and his hard, low shot cleanly beat Hellberg.
Hellberg and the Wolf Pack held strong after that, though, despite the Marlies getting Sparks to the bench for an extra attacker with nearly two minutes remaining.