Tank vs. Sharks
Lauri Korpikoski (Heather Rutsch photo)
The Hartford Wolf Pack once again showed what happens when you only play 20 minutes of hockey in a 60-minute game, getting wiped out at home tonight by the Worcester Sharks, 5-2.
The Wolf Pack seemed to dominate the game in the early going, outshooting the Sharks 16-3 in the first period and eventually building a 2-0 lead. But Sharks goalie Thomas Greiss grew stronger as the game went on, while Pack goalie Al Montoya only seemed to get weaker. Non-stop horrible defensive plays by Hartford right in front of their own net didn't help matters much, and Worcester scored four unanswered goals in the second period, leading to Montoya getting pulled for the second time in his last two starts. An empty-net goal by Graham Mink in the third period, his second of the game, sealed the win for Worcester.
Brandon Dubinsky, in his first game back with the Wolf Pack since being reassigned by the Rangers three days earlier, was the offensive standout for Hartford, a fairly unlikely occurance. Dubinsky made a great play in setting up the Pack's first goal, faking Greiss out of his crease and sending a pass behind Greiss over to Craig Weller, who had an easy tap-in for the score. Dubinsky then scored the Pack's second goal, coming early in the second period when Dale Purinton sent a home run pass the length of the ice ahead to Dubinsky, who then juked several times before sliding the puck in behind Greiss.
The loss was the third in a row for the Wolf Pack, Hartford's first three-game losing streak since the awful first month of the season back in October. After rising through the division and into contention for first place by the end of February, the Wolf Pack are now dangerously close to falling out of a playoff spot in the bunched-up Atlantic Division. With tonight's win, Worcester now holds the fourth and final playoff spot, only two points behind third-place Hartford and mere percentage points ahead of fifth-place Lowell.