WOLF PACK SUNK BY LATE POWERPLAY GOAL AGAINST RIVAL THUNDERBIRDSMar 25, 2022
HARTFORD, CT – The Hartford Wolf Pack tied the game midway through the third period on Friday night in front of over 5,500 fans at the XL Center in Hartford. Unfortunately for the Wolf Pack, a late powerplay goal by the rival Springfield Thunderbirds proved to be the difference in a 3-2 decision.
Dakota Joshua buried his second goal in as many games against the Wolf Pack on the powerplay late in regulation time. James Neal turned and fired a shot from in close that bounced off the pad of Adam Húska and ricocheted to the front of the crease. Joshua slid behind Justin Richards and pounced on the rebound, knocking it home at 15:09 of the third period to put the Thunderbirds ahead for good.
For the second game in a row, the Wolf Pack opened the scoring in the ‘I-91 Rivalry’. Brandon Scanlin, in his professional debut, fired a shot that Charlie Lindgren was able to deny. The puck bounced high into the air before eventually settling in the far faceoff circle, where Zac Jones alertly collected it and tipped it into the slot for Patrick Khodorenko. Khodorenko snapped a shot that cleanly beat Lindgren over the blocker at 12:37 of the first period to break the ice.
Just like on Wednesday, however, the Pack couldn’t take advantage of scoring first. The Thunderbirds tied the game 1-1 3:50 later, as Sam Anas lit the lamp. Anas took a feed from Joshua in front of the Zamboni doors deep in the Wolf Pack zone, then took two strides along the red goal line towards the Wolf Pack net. Anas sniped a shot from a bad angle that bled through Húska for his 17th of the season at 16:27.
The Thunderbirds used the momentum of their late goal to dominate the middle stanza. The T-Birds outshot the Wolf Pack 19-5 and scored the period’s only goal. While on the powerplay, Hugh McGing snapped a shot that Húska was able to deny. The rebound popped into the slot, where Neal collected it and fired it towards goal. Again, Húska was up to the task but again, the rebound came loose. This time, the puck was free at the side of the goal, and Anas located it and stuffed it home for his second goal of the hockey game.
The Wolf Pack, trailing heading into the third period, dug deep. Hartford saved their best for the final twenty minutes, and nearly completed the comeback. Lauri Pajuniemi, returning to the lineup after missing four games, scored his tenth goal of the season to even the contest at 6:36. Matthew Robertson sent a perfect pass to Pajuniemi, who unleashed his patented lethal shot by the glove of Lindgren.
With the game tied 2-2, the Wolf Pack pressed hard at five-on-five. A late penalty would do them in, however. Joshua banged home his second goal in as many games against the Wolf Pack this week to make it a 3-2 game on that fateful skater advantage.
The Wolf Pack, with the net empty, pushed in the final minute. Anthony Greco had a high danger scoring chance directly in front of the Springfield goal but was unable to get a backhand shot away. As a result, the puck fluttered into the corner as the clock wound down.
The Pack will get right back at it when they host the Hershey Bears tomorrow night in a colossal Atlantic Division tilt at the XL Center. The first 1,500 fans into the building will receive a hand-drawn poster courtesy of our friends at Carvel.
Tickets are available at 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.