Wade Redden scored a shorthanded goal at 1:23 of overtime, to give the Connecticut Whale a 2-1 win over the Portland Pirates Monday afternoon at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
With Jeremy Williams in the penalty box for tripping, Tim Kennedy grabbed the puck in the Whale zone, after Portland point man Marc-Andre Gragnani had a pass go off of his stick. Redden joined Kennedy on a two-on-one, and after Kennedy stickhandled down the left-wing side he passed in front to a wide-open Redden, who slapped the puck past Pirate goaltender Jhonas Enroth for the winner.
That was after the Whale had nursed a 1-0 lead into the final three-and-a-half minutes of regulation, only to see Portland’s Mark Mancari tie the score with 3:28 left.
The victory was the Whale’s sixth overtime triumph of the season, and their third in the season series against the Pirates. Connecticut already led the AHL in overtime wins coming into the game. The two points widened the third-place Whale’s lead over the fourth-place Worcester Sharks, who were idle Monday, to three points. The Whale are now 28-22-2-6 for 64 points.
The one-goal verdict was the sixth in seven games between Connecticut and Portland on the season. The Whale finished 3-1-0-0 on the season in Portland, where the Pirates are 18-4-4-1, and are 4-3-0-0 overall on the year against the Pirates. The Whale are 4-0-0-1 in five games since a 9-2 loss at Toronto February 9, and have won four straight on the road.
Chad Johnson made 15 saves in net to get the win, in his first appearance in six games and his first start in seven. Enroth stopped 29 shots, as the Whale enjoyed a 31-16 shots advantage for the game.
The Whale dictated play in the first period, outshooting the Pirates 18-4, but couldn’t solve Enroth, who came into the game with an 0-3 record against Connecticut, with a 3.67 goals-against average and an 87.6% save percentage.
The Whale capitalized on a turnover at 6:19 of the second period, to dent Enroth for the first time. Kennedy, an ex-Pirate, broke up a Gragnani pass in the Portland zone. Kennedy found Dale Weise on the right-wing side and Weise dished to Evgeny Grachev on the opposite side of the slot, and Grachev banged it into the net off of Enroth for Grachev’s 14th goal of the season.
Johnson then held the Pirates at bay until Mancari’s late score, which was on a rebound after Johnson made a fine left-pad save on a Dennis McCauley shot. Mancari was able to slide a second-chance backhander from 15 feet out in the slot underneath Johnson’s pads.
The Whale got a big opportunity late in regulation when Portland’s Tim Conboy was hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct minor by referee Terry Koharski with 1:15 left. Connecticut was not able to convert, though, and Koharski whistled Williams off only six seconds into the OT, leading to Redden’s shorthanded heroics.
Redden’s shorthanded winner was the only shot of overtime, and was the Whale’s sixth shorthander of the season.
With his two assists, Kennedy now has seven points (three goals, four assists) in seven games against his old club.
TWO FORWARDS MAKE WHALE DEBUTS
Center Francis Lemieux and right wing Alexandre Imbeault made their Whale debuts after signing professional tryout contracts after playing all or most of the season with the Florida Everglades of the ECHL. They joined defensemen Lee Baldwin and Blake Parlett, who were recalled from Greenville of the ECHL last week. The quartet was needed because the Whale was without center Kris Newbury (recall to the New York Rangers), injured forwards Todd White (concussion), Ryan Garlock, Chad Kolarik (hamstring) and Chris McKelvie (foot surgery), defenseman Tomas Kundratek (flu) and goalie Cam Talbot (high ankle sprain). Only Johnson and 11 of the 18 skaters in the lineup were with the team when the season started.
The Whale remains on the road with their first two games against the Charlotte Checkers, their former ECHL affiliate, on Thursday and Saturday in Charlotte, N.C. The Checkers (32-20-2-4), the new AHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes, have won two in a row and are on a 6-2-1-0 run. Their leading scorer, All-Star right wing Jerome Samson (26, 28), is on recall to the Hurricanes. The top remaining scorers are left wings Jacob Micflikier (22, 23) and Chris Terry (22, 23), center Zach Boychuk (15, 28) and left wing Oskar Osala (13, 28). The Checkers have gone all season with only two goalies, rookie Mike Murphy (17-9-2, 2.80, .911, one shutout) and Justin Pogge (15-13-2, 3.13, .906, no shutouts). Murphy has won six straight games and is 15-2-0 in his last 17 starts, capped by a 20-save shutout Sunday in a 5-0 victory over the defending Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears. Former Wolf Pack defenseman and 2011 All-Star Bryan Rodney had one goal and two assists in the romp.
The Whale finally returns to the XL Center on March 2 to face the Springfield Falcons, then are at Springfield, Worcester and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to end a brutal stretch of 10 road games in 12 starts. They will finish the season with 10 of their last 16 games at home, starting March 11 against Hershey.
SOUND TIGERS ROOKIE CENTER NAMED AHL PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Bridgeport Sound Tigers rookie center David Ullstrom was named Reebok/AHL Player of the Week after getting six goals and one assist in three games.
Ullstrom entered the week without a goal in his previous 21 games but had a goal and an assist in a 4-3 shootout loss at Springfield on Wednesday night. He scored twice in a 6-4 loss at Hershey on Saturday and notched his first professional hat trick in a 4-2 victory over Atlantic Division-leading Manchester on Sunday that ended the Sound Tigers’ 11-game winless streak (0-10-0-1). Ullstrom’s six-goal week matched his previous output this season, giving him 12 goals and 18 assists in 50 games. The 21-year-old native of Jonkoping, Sweden, was a fourth-round pick of the New York Islanders in 2008 and won a Swedish Elitserien championship with HV71 Jonkoping last season.
Other nominations included former Wolf Pack forwards Jeff Taffe (Rockford), wing Matthew Ford (Lake Erie) and Houston wing Jon DiSalvatore, a native of South Windsor. … Former Wolf Pack and Rangers goalie Al Montoya made 20 saves and Matt Moulson had a hat trick as the Islanders beat the Florida Panthers 5-1 on Monday afternoon. Moulson completed the hat trick with a shorthanded goal into the empty net with 2:37 left. Former Wolf Pack wing P.A. Parenteau had the primary assist on Moulson’s second goal.
GORDIE HOWE’S NUMBER TO BE RE-RETIRED
Hall of Famer Gordie “Mr. Hockey” Howe will have his No. 9 re-retired March 26 before the Whale hosts the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the XL Center.
Howe is one of seven players with his number in the XL Center rafters, the others from the Whalers being 2 (Rick Ley), 5 (Ulf Samuelsson), 10 (Ron Francis), 11 (Kevin Dineen) and 19 (John McKenzie). Whale coach Ken Gernander’s No. 12 is the only number to be retired in the 14-year history of the AHL team.
“I think we’ll have a big crowd,” Whalers Sports and Entertainment president and COO Howard Baldwin Jr. said. “I love Ronnie Francis (the Whalers’ only Hall of Famer), but Gordie is the one who put the team on the map. He needs to have the respect of the people coming out to see him, and it’ll be a great opportunity for it.”
Howe and his sons, Mark and Marty, played together for the first time with the Houston Aeros in 1973 before they came to Hartford and signed with the World Hockey Association’s New England Whalers in 1977. Howe ended his legendary 32-year career in the Hartford Whalers’ first NHL season (1979-80), when he had 15 goals and 26 assists in 80 games and was named a NHL All-Star for the 23rd time while helping the Whalers make the playoffs at 52 years old.
Fans who didn’t attend the Whale Bowl outdoor game against the Providence Bruins on Saturday night at Rentschler Field in East Hartford because of the frigid weather can redeem their ticket for one to “Gordie Howe Night” or another game of their choice. Contact Baldwin at email@example.com.
Connecticut Whale 2 (OT) at Portland Pirates 1
Monday, February 21, 2011 - Cumberland County Civic Center
Connecticut 0 1 0 1 - 2
Portland 0 0 1 0 - 1
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Tuzzolino Por (hooking), 2:24; DiDiomete Ct (instigating, fighting, misconduct - instigating), 12:29; Conboy Por (tripping, fighting), 12:29; Lemieux Ct (cross-checking), 14:56; O'Hanley Por (interference), 16:20; Soryal Ct (hooking), 19:53.