All Out Of Bubblegum
Ryan Callahan scoring against the Falcons (Chris Rutsch photo)
The Hartford Wolf Pack continue to grind their way through the rest of the Atlantic Division, capping off their second straight undefeated weekend with a 2-1 home victory over the Springfield Falcons earlier today. The Wolf Pack have now won 8 out of their last 9 games, and have also won 8 straight on the road, including Friday's 5-4 win in Portland and last night's 3-2 victory in Lowell.
The Wolf Pack continued their inconsistent one-period-on, one-period-off pattern of play against Springfield while still dominating the game overall, outshooting the Falcons 55-22. Without the stellar play of Falcons goalie Karri Ramo, whose 53 saves were a Falcons record, the score could've been much more lopsided. The Wolf Pack didn't need Ramo's help while botching at least two sure-fire scoring opportunities on their own, including a back-door play in first period when Nigel Dawes held the puck near the post, looking at an open net, but couldn't send the puck home.
Nigel Dawes: 1 assist, 9 shots on goal (Chris Rutsch photo)
Springfield actually scored first in this game, when Doug O'Brien was given all day to set up in the slot just beyond the hash marks before sending a blast through Valiquette's pads for a power-play goal halfway through the first period.
Hartford responded shortly afterwards, though, when Ryan Callahan and Jarkko Immonen combined on a 2-on-1 breakaway. Callahan took Immonen's pass and deked to Ramo's right before changing direction and shoving the puck into the net with the front edge of his stickblade, with Callahan ending up sprawled on the ice head-first against the goalpost.
Ivan Baranka's slap shot from the right face-off circle gave the Wolf Pack a 2-1 lead seven minutes into the third period, but Springfield almost tied it in the final minutes of the game, when Steve Valiquette somehow got out of position on a wrap-around try, ending up down on the ice beside the near post while the puck was heading for the other side of the net. Valiquette did recover to make the save, and the Wolf Pack hung on for the 2-1 victory and a 3-0 record on the weekend.
Hartford has put together a 20-6-2 record since starting the season at 5-11-1, and has now moved three points ahead of 3rd-place Providence and six points ahead of 4th-place Worcester in the Atlantic Division standings.