Providence, RI - The Hartford Wolf Pack scored three third-period goals Friday night at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center Providence, but that was not enough to wipe out a 5-0 deficit after 40 minutes, in a 6-3 loss to the Providence Bruins.
Chris Bigras, Ryan Gropp and Ryan Lindgren tallied in the third period for the Wolf Pack, but Ryan Fitzgerald had two goals and an assist for Providence, and Austin Czarnik added a goal and two assists.
“I thought Providence executed better than us in the first,” Wolf Pack head coach Keith McCambridge said. “We were able to generate some chances in the third period, and got into some penalty trouble in the second.
“There were some new bodies coming into the lineup, some guys it’s their first pro game. But at this level, you have an opportunity to showcase yourself in different situations, and I didn’t think we did that very well to start. Providence was better at executing, and we were not. As the game pushed on, I thought guys got a little bit more comfortable in a good way, but it was too late.”
The Bruins jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, on goals 1:11 apart by Anton Blidh and Jordan Szwarz.
Blidh opened the scoring at 7:59, taking a head-man pass up right wing from Cameron Hughes and snapping a shot from the circle past Wolf Pack starting goaltender Alexandar Georgiev.
Szwarz then upped the lead to 2-0 with his 21st of the year at 9:10. Czarnik jammed the puck away from the Wolf Pack’s Dawson Leedahl just inside the Hartford blue line, and passed from the right-wing boards to Fitzgerald in the middle. He found Szwarz just below the left faceoff dot, and Georgiev had no chance on Szwarz’ one-timer.
The Bruins broke the game open with three second-period goals, two by Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald made it a 3-0 Providence advantage on the game’s first power play at 2:58. With John Albert off for high-sticking, Paul Postma moved the puck from the left-wing boards to Czarnik on the right side, and he sent a perfect feed to Fitzgerald in the goal mouth for an easy finish.
Fitzgerald tallied again at 8:37 to make it 4-0, after Gropp broke up a Bruin pass in the defensive zone, but then nearly collided with teammate Lindgren and lost the puck. Fitzgerald grabbed it in the slot and fired it past Georgiev.
Georgiev’s night ended at 10:42, when Trent Frederic scored in a delayed-penalty situation. After Brandon Crawley spilled the Bruins’ Adam Payerl near the Wolf Pack net, Frederic jumped on a loose puck and ripped it into the net.
Marek Mazanec came on to replace Georgiev at that point, and he kept the Bruins off the board for the rest of the period.
The Wolf Pack owned most of the third, outshooting Providence 21-5, but it would take until the 14:40 mark for Hartford to solve Bruin goaltender Zane McIntyre, who finished with 37 saves.
With one second left on a tripping penalty to Providence’s Colton Hargrove, Bigras fired a shot from high in the slot, and it deflected off of a Bruin defender and past McIntyre.
Gropp then cut the lead to 5-2 only 55 seconds later, at 15:35. With the Wolf Pack rushing into the offensive zone, Drew Melanson, playing his second pro game out of Boston University, knifed the puck on net from the right side, and Gropp buried the rebound.
Czarnik answered that goal just 18 seconds thereafter, though, making it 6-2 at 15:53. After Jack Studnicka brought the puck into the Wolf Pack zone, Czarnik moved down the right side of the slot and snapped a shot past Mazanec.
Lindgren made the final margin 6-3 with his second goal in six AHL games with 1:44 left. Vince Pedrie threw the puck at the net from the right point and it deflected to Lindgren on the opposite side. His quick, low shot got by McIntyre’s left pad and inside the goal post. Former Sacred Heart Pioneer Evan Jasper, making his AHL debut up from Greenville of the ECHL, picked up his first AHL point with an assist on the goal.
The Wolf Pack return home to the XL Center Saturday night, hosting the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in a 7:00 PM game. Tickets are on sale now at the Agera Energy Ticket Office at the XL Center, on-line at www.hartfordwolfpack.com and by phone at (877) 522-8499.