Springfield, MA – The Hartford Wolf Pack battled back from a 2-0 deficit against the Springfield Thunderbirds Friday night at the MassMutual Center, but could not counter an early third-period goal by Jared McCann in a 3-2 loss.
The defeat was the Wolf Pack’s second straight after a season-high four-game winning streak. The Thunderbirds’ win snapped an 0-3-1-0 drought.
Steven Fogarty and Matt Carey scored second-period goals 3:16 apart for the Wolf Pack, who outshot the Thunderbirds 32-17, and Brandon Halverson made 14 saves. Mike McKenna made 30 stops in the Springfield net, and the other Thunderbird goals were scored by Anthony Greco and Tim Bozon.
“We came out pretty hard, and I think just a couple bad bounces each way,” Carey said. “And I think if a couple of bounces go our way, we win that game. We had a ton of chances to score, and I believe we deserved to win that one.”
With the score tied 2-2 after two, Springfield got McCann loose behind the Wolf Pack defense. Greco fed the puck off of left wing perfectly to McCann, who made a move to the backhand to beat Halverson for the winner at 4:37 of the third.
The Wolf Pack had an 11-7 shots on goal advantage in the first period, but the Thunderbirds got the only goal of the frame, scored by Greco at 6:49, just 14 seconds after he got out of the penalty box.
Brent Regner worked the puck away from the Wolf Pack’s Ryan Graves just inside the Springfield blue line, and rushed up the right side. Halverson stopped Regner’s shot, but Greco got to the rebound at the left side of the slot and banged it in.
The Thunderbirds would make it a 2-0 advantage at 4:37 of the second period, on Bozon’s sixth goal of the season. After a sharp save by Halverson on a low shot by Shane Harper, Bozon got to the rebound on the left-wing boards and threw it towards the net. That bid surprised Halverson, who had it go under his arm and into the goal.
The Wolf Pack responded quickly, though, getting on the board at 5:40, just 1:03 after Bozon’s goal. Fogarty, in his first game back in the Hartford lineup after a nine-game injury absence, cut the lead to 2-1 with his second pro goal, set up by a nifty foray from the left point by Mat Bodie.
The Wolf Pack then tied the score at 8:40, on a second-effort tally by Carey. Chris Brown rushed the puck into the Springfield zone down the left side and passed across to Carey, whose initial shot was blocked by Ian McCoshen. While down on his knees, however, Carey was able to get another whack at the puck, and his second try hit a backchecking Harper and went past McKenna and into the net.