ST JOHN’S, Newfoundland – J.T. Miller scored twice, and Danny Kristo had a goal and an assist, Saturday night at Mile One Centre, as the Hartford Wolf Pack extended their win streak to seven straight games with a 7-2 victory over the St. John’s IceCaps.
The seven-goal output was the Wolf Pack’s largest of the season, and the five-goal margin of victory is also a season high for Hartford. St. John’s had won the first two meetings of the year between the two teams by a combined margin of 12-3.
Shawn O’Donnell, Oscar Lindberg, Marek Hrivik and Nick Latta also scored for the Wolf Pack, and Danny Syvret had two assists. David LeNeveu made 31 saves in goal. Austen Brassard and Jerome Samson had the St. John’s goals, and Eric Comrie made 23 saves in his first pro start.
“We had a lot of elements tonight,” Wolf Pack coach Ken Gernander said. “I thought we were decent on our special teams, after their early lead, O’Donnell’s goal was certainly a big goal, and [LeNeveu] was strong in net again. Just a real good team effort again tonight.
The seven-game win streak is the franchise’s longest in more than five years, since February 20-March 4, 2009.
The Wolf Pack gave up the game’s first goal only 1:39 into the game, but then responded to get the next three.
Brassard gave St. John’s the early advantage at 1:39, with his third goal of the season. LeNeveu stopped a shot off right wing by Adam Lowry, but Brendan Kichton dove down to get to the rebound and bang it toward the net. That try went off the post behind LeNeveu, and the carom lay loose in the goal crease for Brassard to bang in.
O’Donnell tied it for the Wolf Pack only 1:51 later, at 3:30. Justin Vaive made a strong rush down left wing and had his shot stopped by Comrie, but O’Donnell got a whack at the rebound and it trickled through Comrie just over the goal line.
Kristo then put the Wolf Pack in front at 7:21, improving his team-best goal total to 23 with an unassisted tally. Chris McCarthy’s pass toward T.J. Hensick at the right side of the slot was blocked, but Kristo kept the puck in near the blue line, and buried a snap shot from the left side of the slot past Comrie’s stick side.
The two teams traded goals only 45 seconds apart starting at the 6:24 mark of the second, when Lindberg put the Wolf Pack up 3-1 with a shorthanded goal. A Conor Allen pass deflected to Lindberg in the middle, and Lindberg backtracked toward the blue line before whirling and snapping a shot past Comrie’s catching glove.
Samson got that one back for St. John’s, though, at 7:09, just six seconds after Miller stepped out of the penalty box after finishing a hooking minor. A loose puck came to Samson at the right-wing faceoff dot, and Samson blasted a high shot into the net for his 24th goal of the season.
Hrivik restored the two-goal margin for the Wolf Pack with 1:14 remaining in the period, scoring for a second straight game. Hensick carried into the St. John’s end down right wing and dropped the puck off to Syvret, who deflected it perfectly to Hrivik at the left side of the slot, and Hrivik hammered a quick shot behind Comrie.
The Wolf Pack then broke the game open with three third-period goals, two by Miller.
Miller made it a 5-2 lead at 9:18 on a power play, intercepting a Kyle MacKinnon pass out of the left-wing corner high in the slot, and beating Comrie high.
Then, at 12:59, Kristo and Miller hooked up on a pretty play to make it 6-2. Kristo stickhandled across the middle in center ice and headed down the left-wing side the St. John’s zone, before passing to Miller, who was moving across the slot. Miller deflected the feed perfectly under the crossbar, for his second goal of the night and 15th of the season.
Latta completed the scoring with 30.9 seconds left in the third, with his first pro goal in eight games. Latta beat his check down the right side and took a cross-slot pass from Darroll Powe, and banged the puck in behind Comrie for a 7-2 final.
The Wolf Pack had been eliminated from playoff contention by the Albany Devils’ 2-1 win Friday night over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.