ARTEM ANISIMOV POTS GAME-WINNER IN RETURN TO WOLF PACK AS HARTFORD EDGES ISLANDERS 3-2Jan 4, 2024
BRIDGEPORT, CT – It had been nearly 15 years since Artem Anisimov appeared in his last regular season game as a member of the Hartford Wolf Pack. On Thursday night, Anisimov returned to the team in style as his third-period goal propelled the Wolf Pack to a 3-2 victory over the rival Bridgeport Islanders at Total Mortgage Arena.
Anton Blidh carried the puck deep into the Islanders' zone before sending a pass to Anisimov in the left-wing corner. The veteran forward, who scored 19 goals a season ago with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, flung a shot toward the goal from a sharp angle. The shot fooled Henrik Tikkanen, starting for the Islanders, just 1:13 into the third period to break a 2-2 tie. The goal, Anisimov’s first with the Wolf Pack since April 11th, 2009, proved to be the game-winning goal.
The 3-2 victory is Hartford’s second straight win, their first back-to-back wins since December 1st and 2nd against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
For the fourth time in as many meetings, it would be the road team opening the scoring as the Wolf Pack found the icebreaker. Matej Pekar sent a centering pass to Matt Rempe from the left-wing side that clipped the leg of Rempe and beat Tikkanen just 2:28 into the game. The goal was Rempe’s fifth of the season, while the assist was Pekar’s fourth as a member of the Wolf Pack.
The Islanders' powerplay answered, scoring on their second opportunity of the game. Otto Koivula curled into the slot and ripped a shot that beat Dylan Garand for his seventh goal of the season. The tally was Koivula’s second against the Wolf Pack this season and was the Isles’ fourth powerplay marker in the season series.
Brett Berard responded for the Wolf Pack powerplay, scoring his second goal in as many games against Islanders early in the middle frame. With Aidan Fulp in the penalty box for hooking, Berard took a feed from Nikolas Brouillard in the right-wing circle and wired a low shot by Tikkanen for his ninth goal of the season 4:29 into the period.
Late in the stanza, the Islanders began to pressure heavily at five-on-five, eventually breaking through. A puck bounced off Pekar in the neutral zone and ended up on the stick of Kyle McClean, who dropped the puck to Cole Bardreau. Bardreau fired a shot that McClean tipped, but the deflection hit the post to the right of Garand. With a scramble in front, the puck ended up on Bardreau’s stick and he buried a rebound 17:52 into the frame to even the tilt 2-2.
For the second time in as many meetings, the Wolf Pack and Islanders entered the third period deadlocked 2-2. For the second straight game, it would be the Wolf Pack striking early in the third period to take the lead for good.
This time, it would be Anisimov who fired his first goal as a member of the Wolf Pack since April 11th, 2009, from an angle to restore Hartford’s lead for good.
Dyland Garand made five saves in the third period, preserving his eighth win of the season. He is 2-0-0 at Total Mortgage Arena during the 2023-24 campaign.
The Wolf Pack continue their four-game road trip on Saturday night when they visit the Hershey Bears for a rematch of the 2023 Atlantic Division Final. The puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. and coverage is available on both AHLTV & Mixlr starting at 6:45 p.m.
Hartford’s first home game of 2024 will be on January 13th as they host the Providence Bruins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available on www.hartfordwolfpack.com.
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ABOUT THE HARTFORD WOLF PACK: The Hartford Wolf Pack has been a premier franchise in the American Hockey League since the team’s inception in 1997. The Wolf Pack are the top player-development affiliate of the NHL's New York Rangers and play at the XL Center. The Wolf Pack has been home to some of the Rangers newest faces including Igor Shesterkin, Filip Chytil, and Ryan Lindgren. Follow the Wolf Pack on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.