Hartford, CT - The Hartford Wolf Pack stormed back from a 4-1 deficit in the third period against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Sunday at the XL Center, but the Penguins recovered to win 5-4 in overtime.
Adam Johnson scored the game-winner for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at 1:40 of the extra session, after Zach Trotman had spilled Hartford’s Vinni Lettieri multiple times deep in the Penguin end.
Wolf Pack goaltender Brandon Halverson, who entered the game in relief of starter Dustin Tokarski late in the second period, stopped Johnson’s initial bad-angle shot from the right side, but Johnson got to the rebound below the goal line and banked it in off of Halverson.
"I thought the first two periods we weren't able to get pucks out of our zone, and couldn't make breakout passes,” Wolf Pack head coach Keith McCambridge said. “We can't generate offense if we can't play defensively. I think we needed to play with more structure those first two periods."
Steven Fogarty, Peter Holland and Sean Day all scored for the Wolf Pack in the first 9:57 of the third period, after Wilkes-Barre/Scranton had put three into the net in the second.
Fogarty started the comeback only 29 seconds into the third, intercepting an Ethan Prow pass in front of the Penguin net and slipping the puck through the pads of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton netminder John Muse (21 saves).
"Fogarty is obviously a leader on our team, he plays the same every night,” said Day. “He definitely leads by example and never takes a night off."
Holland then brought the Wolf Pack to within one at the five-minute mark, with his 20th goal of the season. Lettieri prevented former Wolf Pack Ryan Haggerty from clearing the puck near the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton line and fed to Holland, who was all alone in front of Muse. Holland deked the Penguin backstop and put a backhander over him and into the net.
Day then tied the score with his first career AHL goal at 9:57, just six seconds after Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Jimmy Hayes was called for hooking. Fogarty won the draw, and Ryan Gropp worked the puck back to Day, whose shot from the middle of the blue line went through a Tim Gettinger screen and past Muse high.
"I've had a lot of chances the last couple games and finally one went in,” Day said. “It's a relief and it's something to build off of for sure.
"I think the last 5-6 games we've been playing the right hockey, we just aren't getting the right outcomes."
"I like Day’s growth,” McCambridge said. “With some players injured, he is definitely making the most of those extra minutes."
The Wolf Pack were outshot 14-5 in the first period, but the two teams came out of the frame tied at one.
The two goals came in a span of 1:21, starting with a Lettieri tally for the Wolf Pack at 4:41, on Hartford’s first shot of the game. After a drive from the right point by Day was deflected wide, Lettieri picked up the puck in the left-wing corner and sent a sharp-angle shot towards the net that hit Muse’s right elbow and went inside the goal post and into the goal.
Haggerty replied for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at 6:01, after another ex-Wolf Pack, Chris Summers, put the puck at the net from the left point. Tokarski made the save, but as the puck came off of him, Haggerty knocked it out of the air and into the net.
The Penguins would then chase Tokarski from the game with a three-spot in the second.
Sam Lafferty put Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in front at 5:35, on the rebound of a Johnson shot. Johnson’s drive from below the left faceoff dot was stopped by Tokarski’s left pad, but the rebound went right out in front, where Lafferty was able to fend off Libor Hajek and bang the puck into the cage.
Summers made it a 3-1 Penguin lead at 9:05, with his first goal of the season. After Lafferty won a draw, Summers’ shot from the left point beat Tokarski through the legs.
Joseph Blandisi then ended Tokarski’s day at 16:15, increasing the margin to three. Sam Miletic worked the puck out of the right-wing corner to Trotman at the point, and his shot hit Blandisi, who was battling for position with John Gilmour in the goal mouth, and went into the back of the net.
Brandon Halverson entered the game at that point to replace Tokarski, who made 22 saves, and Halverson would stop ten Penguin shots before Johnson’s OT winner.
The Wolf Pack’s next game is back home at the XL Center this Friday night, February 22, when they host the Springfield Thunderbirds at 7:15 PM. As at all Friday-night Wolf Pack home games, fans can enjoy $1 hot dogs, and $2 beers and fountain sodas, through the start of the second period, presented by Nomads Adventure Quest.
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.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 5 (OT) at Hartford Wolf Pack 4
Sunday, February 17, 2019 - XL Center