Jesper Fast had two goals, including the game-winner, and added an assist Sunday at the XL Center, leading the Wolf Pack to their fifth straight win, a 3-2 victory over the Norfolk Admirals.
The win kept the Wolf Pack alive in the Eastern Conference playoff race, as Hartford improved to 33-31-1-6 for 73 points.
David LeNeveu made 30 saves to get the win in his fifth consecutive start, and Ryan Bourque had a goal and an assist. Max Friberg had a goal and an assist for Norfolk, and Emerson Etem also scored.
“It was a good game from start to finish,” Bourque said. “We came out pretty strong with our legs in the first period. We knew that they were traveling all week and weekend so we had to jump on them early, and I think we carried the play throughout most of the game. In the third they were really pressuring us, and I think we did a good job of bending but not breaking and staying tough as a team, both defensively and throughout all structures of the game.”
Bourque opened the scoring only 56 seconds into the game, burying his 20th goal of the season. Fast broke up a Nolan Yonkman pass and carried down left wing in the Norfolk zone, before passing over to Bourque, who tipped the puck past Norfolk starting goaltender Brad Thiessen on the backhand.
Bourque had only six goals his first pro season with the Connecticut Whale and eight last year, but this season trails team goal-scoring leader Danny Kristo by only two.
The Admirals tied it at 7:56 on the game’s first power play, with Marek Hrivik off for interference. Blacker snapped the puck at the net from the middle of the blue line, and Friberg, unguarded in front of the goal, deflected it past LeNeveu.
That was it for the scoring until late in the second period, when Fast scored twice in a span of 1:30 to put the Wolf Pack up by a pair of goals.
Fast one-timed a pass from J.T. Miller into the net from the left-wing circle at 15:04 on a power play, just seven seconds after Dave Steckel was sent to the penalty box for tripping.
Fast scored again on his next shift, after Aaron Johnson whirled just inside his own blue line and flung a pass through center ice. The puck hit Bourque’s skate and deflected into the Norfolk zone, where Ryan Parent had it get away from him and on to Fast’s stick. Fast stepped past Parent and put a backhand shot past Thiessen on the stick side at 16:34.
Thiessen (17 saves) was replaced by Igor Bobkov to start the third period, and the Admirals controlled much of the play in the third, outshooting the Wolf Pack 13-7 and scoring the only goal of the frame.
Etem, who had a hat trick in Norfolk’s 6-3 win at Binghamton on Saturday night, put home a power-play goal 3:41 into the third, with Shawn O’Donnell serving a hooking minor. LeNeveu made saves on Andre Petersson and Friberg, but Etem jumped on the second rebound and pushed it past LeNeveu on the forehand.
In his analysis of the win, Wolf Pack coach Ken Gernander gave credit to Hartford’s fourth line, whose play allowed the Wolf Pack to roll their lines in their third game in three days.
“I thought we were a fairly deep team tonight when you look at the contributions of (Oscar) Lindberg, (Justin) Vaive and O’Donnell,” Gernander said. “Top to bottom I think all four lines were very strong tonight.”
The Wolf Pack’s next three games are on the road, starting this Wednesday night, April 9, when the Pack travel to Worcester to meet the Sharks at 7:00 PM. All of the action of that battle can be heard live on Fox Sports Radio 1410, and on-line at www.foxsportsradio1410.com and iHeartRadio. Video streaming is available at www.ahllive.com.
The Wolf Pack’s next home game is Friday, April 18, when the Springfield Falcons invade the XL Center for a 7:00 PM game. That is the last chance this season for fans to enjoy $1 hot dogs and $2 beers through the start of the second period, presented by Marc’s Appliance Warehouse, located at 75 Prospect Ave., Hartford, CT.
Tickets for all Wolf Pack 2013-14 home games are on sale now at the Public Power Ticket Office at the XL Center, on-line at www.hartfordwolfpack.com and by phone at (877) 522-8499. Wolf Pack tickets start as low as $12 for youth 12 years old or younger. To speak with a representative about season or group tickets, call (855) 762-6451.
Norfolk Admirals 2 at Hartford Wolf Pack 3
Sunday, April 6, 2014 - XL Center
Norfolk 1 0 1 - 2
Hartford 1 2 0 - 3
1st Period-1, Hartford, Bourque 20 (Fast), 0:56. 2, Norfolk, Friberg 15 (Blacker, Karlsson), 7:56 (PP). Penalties-Hrivik Hfd (interference), 7:04; Manson Nor (holding), 8:38; Sauve Nor (hooking), 13:10.
2nd Period-3, Hartford, Fast 16 (Miller, Syvret), 15:04 (PP). 4, Hartford, Fast 17 (Bourque, Johnson), 16:34. Penalties-Miller Hfd (high-sticking), 8:57; Steckel Nor (tripping), 14:57; Stortini Nor (instigating, fighting, misconduct - instigating), 19:53; Vaive Hfd (fighting), 19:53.
3rd Period-5, Norfolk, Etem 21 (Friberg, Petersson), 3:41 (PP). Penalties-O'Donnell Hfd (hooking), 2:23; Sauve Nor (tripping), 4:35; Miller Hfd (hooking), 5:10.
Shots on Goal-Norfolk 10-9-13-32. Hartford 7-13-7-27.
Power Play Opportunities-Norfolk 2 / 4; Hartford 1 / 5.
Goalies-Norfolk, Thiessen 4-5-2 (20 shots-17 saves); Bobkov 5-2-1 (7 shots-7 saves). Hartford, LeNeveu 9-8-0 (32 shots-30 saves).
Referees-Pierre Lambert (39), Nic Leduc (12).
Linesmen-Brent Colby (7), Paul Simeon (66).