David LeNeveu made 37 saves Friday night at the XL Center, leading the Wolf Pack to their eighth victory in nine games, a 2-1 win over the Northeast Division-champion Springfield Falcons.
Oscar Lindberg’s third-period power-play goal was the game-winner for the Wolf Pack (36-32-1-6, 79 pts.), who were outshot 38-20 in the game, and Danny Kristo also scored. Carter Camper had the Falcons’ only goal of the game, and Mike McKenna made 18 saves.
“I think it’s been encouraging to see some of the improvement and the growth, both as individuals and as a team,” Wolf Pack coach Ken Gernander said of the Wolf Pack’s recent run. “I think you can start by giving credit to our veterans, because they have a lot to say in regards to the temperament of the (locker) room and how things are going to unfold.
“If you look at our record over the last twenty-five or thirty games, if you’re talking about developing guys and developing a winning atmosphere, we’ve come a long way in the span of a season.”
Friday’s win was the Wolf Pack’s fifth in the last six games in the season series with the Falcons, and Hartford is now 17-6-1-0 in 24 games since February 22.
Kristo, the Wolf Pack’s leading goal-scorer, netted his 25th of the year 4:30 into the game for the only scoring of the first two periods.
Ryan Bourque tipped a Dylan McIlrath try from the right point on goal, and McKenna made the save, but could not control the rebound. Kristo, stationed to McKenna’s left, jammed the loose puck into the net.
Springfield dominated the second period territorially, outshooting the Wolf Pack 17-5, but could not get anything past LeNeveu until the 58-second mark of the third period, when Camper finally got the Falcons on the scoreboard.
Sean Collins fed the puck to the high slot to former Connecticut Whale Tim Erixon, who deflected it to Camper on the right side. Camper moved to just inside the faceoff dot and fired a shot past LeNeveu’s stick side to tie the game.
The Wolf Pack responded with the deciding goal less than four minutes later, though, at 4:42, with Cody Bass in the penalty box for cross-checking.
Danny Syvret played the puck cross-ice from the right-wing circle to T.J. Hensick along the boards. Hensick’s centering feed was partially blocked, but it carried through to Lindberg in front of the goal. McKenna got a piece of Lindberg’s quick shot but could not keep it out of the net, and Lindberg’s 18th goal of the season put the Wolf Pack on top to stay.
Springfield’s best chance the rest of the way came with about 2:30 remaining in the third, when Lukas put a shot off the goalpost to LeNeveu’s right after getting a step on the Wolf Pack defense.
The Wolf Pack bring down the curtain on the 2013-14 season Saturday night at the XL Center, hosting the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in a 7:00 PM game. It’s Fan Appreciation Night, with numerous great prizes to be given away at random, including a 32-inch HD TV, New York Ranger and Wolf Pack autographed items, a tailgating Weber grill and Rita’s Italian Ice. Tickets 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.
Springfield Falcons 1 at Hartford Wolf Pack 2
Friday, April 18, 2014 - XL Center
Springfield 0 0 1 - 1
Hartford 1 0 1 - 2
1st Period-1, Hartford, Kristo 25 (Bourque, McIlrath), 4:30. Penalties-Erixon Spr (slashing), 1:34; Collins Spr (high-sticking), 8:05; Bass Spr (high-sticking), 9:54; Powe Hfd (hooking), 14:27; Thompson Spr (tripping), 18:24.
2nd Period- No Scoring. Penalties-Hughes Hfd (boarding), 7:53; Vaive Hfd (holding), 15:39.
3rd Period-2, Springfield, Camper 12 (Erixon, Collins), 0:58. 3, Hartford, Lindberg 18 (Hensick, Syvret), 4:42 (PP). Penalties-Bass Spr (cross-checking), 4:22; O'Donnell Hfd (closing hand on puck), 12:55.
Shots on Goal-Springfield 9-17-12-38. Hartford 6-5-9-20.
Power Play Opportunities-Springfield 0 / 4; Hartford 1 / 5.
Goalies-Springfield, McKenna 22-9-1 (20 shots-18 saves). Hartford, LeNeveu 12-9-0 (38 shots-37 saves).
Referees-Jarrod Ragusin (54), Tim Mayer (19).
Linesmen-Luke Galvin (2), Mike Baker (11).