Hartford, CT - A late third-period goal by Ville Meskanen prevented the Hartford Wolf Pack from being shut out by the Rochester Americans Saturday night at the XL Center, but Jonas Johansson stopped 34 other Wolf Pack tries in a 4-1 Rochester win.
C.J. Smith had two goals and an assist for the Americans, and Eric Cornel also scored twice.
“The big picture is that we’re doing great things,” Meskanen said. “Then there’s like a small, careless pass and some guys are maybe sleeping, and it creates a scoring chance for the opponent. And that’s just not what we needed right now.”
Rochester jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, opening the scoring at the four-minute mark on a goal by Smith. Smith came out of the penalty box, took a feed from Scott Wilson and got a step on the Wolf Pack defense. The puck slid off of Smith’s stick as he tried to make a move, but it fooled Wolf Pack goaltender Dustin Tokarski (24 saves) and trickled into the net.
Cornel doubled the lead with 4:39 left in the period, with his fifth goal of the season. He broke into the Wolf Pack zone on a 2-on-1 with Victor Olofsson, and elected to take the shot. His drive from the right side went past Tokarski’s catching glove.
That would be it for the scoring for better than two periods, with the Wolf Pack outshooting the Americans 10-4 in the second period but being unable to solve Johansson.
“I thought in the first period we looked understandably like a tentative team,” Wolf Pack head coach Keith McCambridge said. “But I liked the compete level in the remainder of the game”
It remained 2-0 until the 16:59 mark of the third period, when Cornel netted his second of the night. Smith flung the puck at the net from high in the slot and Cornel re-directed it, causing it to slip through Tokarski’s pads and just over the goal line.
Meskanen ended Johansson’s shutout bid just 41 seconds later, though, at 17:40, with his tenth goal of the season. With Tokarski lifted for an extra attacker, John Gilmour sent a shot towards the net from the left side that was blocked, but the puck caromed right to Meskanen. He buried a shot past Johansson’s catching glove from the right side of the slot.
The Wolf Pack got Tokarski back to the bench, but this time the Americans foiled the strategy, with Smith getting his second of the game at 18:12. Kevin Porter and Brendan Guhle combined to clear the puck out of the Americans’ end up left wing, and Smith outraced Gilmour to knock it into the empty cage.
The win improved the North Division-leading Americans’ record to 28-13-3-1 for 60 points, while the Wolf Pack fell to 19-23-3-2 (43 points).
“Their record is the way it is for a reason, they’ve got lots of speed up front,” McCambridge said of Rochester. “But I can’t fault the effort of our group, and we’ve just got to find ways to bury our chances.”
The Wolf Pack’s next action is back at the XL Center this Tuesday night, a 7:00 PM game vs. the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Tickets for all 2018-19 Wolf Pack home games 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. Tickets purchased in advance for kids 12 or younger start at just $13 each, and all tickets will have a $3 day-of-game increase.
Season ticket information for the Wolf Pack’s 2018-19 AHL season can be found on-line at www.hartfordwolfpack.com. To speak with a representative about all of the Wolf Pack’s many attractive ticketing options, call (855) 762-6451, or click here to request more info.
Rochester Americans 4 at Hartford Wolf Pack 1
Saturday, February 2, 2019 - XL Center
Rochester 2 0 2 - 4
Hartford 0 0 1 - 1
1st Period-1, Rochester, C. Smith 17 (Wilson), 4:00. 2, Rochester, Cornel 5 (Asplund), 15:21. Penalties-C. Smith Roc (interference), 1:50.
2nd Period- No Scoring. Penalties-Tennyson Roc (tripping), 3:11.