Hartford, CT – A four-goal second period propelled the Toronto Marlies past the Hartford Wolf Pack, 5-3, Saturday night at the XL Center.
The Marlies were quick to capitalize on the Pack’s early struggles, taking the game’s first lead at the 5:55 mark of the first period. Toronto’s Colin Greening was responsible for the score, depositing the rebound created by Brooks Laich shot past a diving Wolf Pack goaltender Brandon Halverson (30 saves).
With tensions still running high from last weekend’s hotly contested series in Toronto, Tanner Glass and Richard Clune dropped the gloves at 16:13. The fight, largely won by Glass, not only brought the home crowd to their feet, but also ignited Hartford coach Ken Gernander’s squad.
Playing with a man-advantage, after the referee ruled that Clune instigated the fight, Wolf Pack captain Mat Bodie received beautiful backhanded pass from Ryan Graves and the puck through the legs of Toronto net-minder Jhonas Enroth (24 saves) to level the score at the 18:05 mark.
As the Wolf Pack looked to carry this momentum into the second period, Marlie coach Sheldon Keefe’s club was determined to stop the bleeding. One minute and fifty-seven seconds into the frame, the Marlies made this goal a reality. With Halverson attempting to play the puck behind his net, Toronto’s Andreas Johnsson, swooped in, stole the puck and feed it to a wide-open Colin Smith, who easily converted the ensuing “empty” net opportunity.
The Marlies added to their lead at 12:27, when Laich’s breakaway attempt clanked off the crossbar and onto the waiting stuck of Daniel Maggio, who effortlessly flicked the puck past Halverson, to make the score 3-1.
With Adam Tambellini in the penalty box for slashing, Kasperi Kapanen extended Toronto’s lead to three scores with a long-range power play strike at 14:24.
Seven seconds after Kapanen’s score, Hartford’s Michael Joly was awarded a penalty shot, after he was hooked on a breakaway by Clune. Joly made good on the penalty shot, notching his second tally in as many games by beating Enroth glove-side high, to bring the Pack within two goals of the lead.
The score did little to faze the Marlies, however, as Toronto’s Kerby Rychel knocked in his team’s fourth goal of the period on a power play at 18:21. The tally was largely produced by a series of one-time passes from Kapanen and Johnsson, which stifled Hartford’s penalty-kill unit.
When asked about Harford’s play during the second period, Bodie explained, “We got a little bit disconnected from defensemen to forwards, got spread out, and weren’t playing quite as a five-man unit.”
After a second period that yielded five total goals and a combined eight penalties, the game’s final frame proved to be far less explosive. Hartford’s Justin Fontaine was responsible for the period’s lone score, threading a one-timer past Enroth’s near side at 17:13, with the Wolf Pack on a 5-on-3 man advantage. The score was assisted by Tambellini, and marked Fontaine’s eleventh point of the year.
Following the game, Bodie stated, “We’ll learn from this one, move on, and be ready for Providence tomorrow.”