WOLF PACK HUNTS DOWN PENGUINS, 5-1
WILKES-BARRE, PA - Matt Zaba made 39 saves, and the Hartford Wolf Pack tallied two shorthanded goals in handing the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins a 5-1 loss Wednesday night at the Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza.
The loss was the second in a row for the Penguins (36-18-1-2) after the team posted a record-tying nine-game winning streak, while the Wolf Pack (31-23-2-3) captured their fourth straight win and moved to within three points of the Providence Bruins in the Atlantic Division standings.
“I think that obviously they play a patient game. They stick to their game plan and try to hang in there, hang in there, hang in there, and that was definitely the case tonight,” said head coach Todd Reirden, who saw his team jump out to a 1-0 lead for the second straight game, only to have the opposition rattle off all the rest of the offense. “It’s a case where I don’t have any trouble saying we out-chanced them two-to-one tonight, without a doubt.”
The Pens outshot Hartford 40-25, but Zaba turned aside every shot with the exception of a redirect off the stick of Alex Goligoski 5:57 into the game to record his 15th win of the season.
“I thought their goalie played really well. Obviously we generated a lot of chances, but I thought that we didn’t finish,” Reirden said. “A lot of pucks today hit his logo. That wolf on his chest is wounded right now.”
The Wolf Pack also brought the Sean Avery sideshow to town, and the controversial former Dallas Stars forward didn’t disappoint the 6,000-plus on hand. Avery elicited boos every time he touched the ice, and popped in his first goal since joining Hartford two weeks ago to tie the game at 1-1 after one period.
Jordan Owens picked up what proved to be the game-winning goal 1:44 into the middle frame for the only goal of the second period, before the Wolf Pack netted back-to-back shorthanded tallies off the sticks of Greg Moore and Patrick Rissmiller to make the score 4-1. Moore notched his second of the evening, this one a power play score, with six-and-a-half minutes to play to finish off the night.
Reirden was happy with the opportunities his club had on the evening, but frustrated with the lack of execution.
“We just got into a game where we weren’t making plays with a purpose. Because we’re having success, because we’re carrying the play, we lost track of the importance that every time you have the puck on your stick, it has the potential to end up in your net,” he said. “That’s something that’s been getting into our game a little bit at the end of our streak, something that we addressed tonight and we will continue to address.”