Hartford, CT- After a long stretch on the road the Hartford Wolf Pack (27-15-4-3) finally came back to their home ice tonight. Facing off against the Albany Devils (22-19-4-5), the New Jersey Devils affiliate and the New York Rangers main rival, it was quite clear that on this Valentine’s Day evening, love was the very last thing that would be on the ice for these two teams.
The past four games have been rough ones for the Pack between having goalie Mackenzie Skapski, a player who has been highly regarded for his collective attitude, called up to fill in for the Ranger’s Henrik Lundquist and being on a four-game losing streak – it was hard to predict what the Wolf Pack was thinking going into the game. Were they going to claim their home ice? Or give it up to the rival?
According to the Wolf Pack’s All-Star player, Chris Bourque, “You go through these kind of streaks, highs, and lows. But hopefully a couple of points will us to a good run tonight.”
An early trip by Tim Sestito (ALB) at 3:36 in the first, allowed the Wolf Pack to snag the early power play. Although the Pack came off strong, the Pack faced the same problem that they generally have during power plays – the inability to capitalize.
Coming off the power play let down, the Wolf Pack began to slip up. A penalty for hooking on Michael Kosta gave the Devils a power play. The power play proved its self very costly for the Wolf Pack, at 7:55 the Devils put up the first goal, a quick pick up by Devils, Mike Sislo.
Heating up as the period was beginning to close, both teams appeared to be losing its composure with multiple penalties coming from both teams. Taking another man advantage, Albany scored another goal at 17:11 by Rod Pelley with an easy, shorthanded breakaway shot. Coming up from behind at 19:15, Chris Mueller threw a big game changer into the net.
Later C. Bourque, would comment, “We just got back to the basics, looking for that perfect play can definitely distract you.” Not searching for that perfect play, and just using his timeless skills, Mueller, was able to put the Pack on the board with a huge goal. A big momentum changer for the Wolf Pack, it seemed prior to that that the Devils would be maintaining the control of this ice. Mueller’s last minute shot definitely gave the team a confidence boost to move them into the second period.
Coming up from behind at 19:15, Chris Mueller threw a big game changer into the net. Later C. Bourque, would comment, “We just got back to the basics, looking for that perfect play can definitely distract you.” Not searching for that perfect play, and just using his timeless skills, Mueller, was able to put the Pack on the board with a huge goal. A big momentum changer for the Wolf Pack, it seemed prior to that that the Devils would be maintaining the control of this ice. Mueller’s last minute shot definitely gave the team a confidence boost to move them into the second period.
With a high momentum coming onto the ice, the Wolf Pack came fairly close to putting a few in the net, but the shots were saved with no problem from Devils, Scott Clemmensen. As the period continued the Pack continued to struggle with their power plays, however, the game remained fast paced and the second seemed to breeze by.
With the first half of the second period in the books, the Wolf Pack began to kick it up a notch with a fast shot by Danny Kristo that just skimmed past Clemmensen’s glove. With the score now tied up, the Wolf Pack managed to hold it together until the bell rang. Ending the second at 2-2, both teams were able to clean it up, running more smoothly than they had been during the first.
With a smoother second period down, the start of the period started off relatively slow with very little going, the score remaining in a 2-2 stalemate. As the game began to wind down, a come up from Hartford’s forward Tyler Brown at 16:35 with a tie-breaking goal, scooping up a breakaway and putting the puck past Clemmensen’s sick side.
A fired up Wolf Pack only continued to forge on, seconds later at 16:53 Chris Mueller took a commanding lead with another quick shot. Fully taking control in the last four minutes, the Devils pulled Clemmensen from the goal. Kristo put in the empty netter at 18:45, sealing the victory indefinitely for the Pack. With the score 5-2 and the Devils facing a rough defeat, a clear air of frustration penetrated the ice with a some fist flying between Shawn O’Donnell (HFD) and Ben Tomson (ALB) in front of the net. But the fists did no justice; the fight breaking out at 19:09 was less than beneficial. The Wolf Pack ended the 4 game losing streak with a 5-2 win over the Devils.
The Wolf Pack will be home again at the XL Center Sunday, February 22 to play the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (28-28-2-3)
1. Tyler Brown (HFD)
2. Jeff Malcolm (HFD)
3. Danny Kristo (HFD)