HARTFORD, Conn – J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast had a goal and two assists each for the Hartford Wolf Pack Friday night at the XL Center, as the Wolf Pack defeated the Northeast Division-leading Springfield Falcons, 6-2.
It was the most decisive margin of victory of the season for the Wolf Pack, who broke open a tight, 3-2 game with three third-period goals. The win was the fourth straight for Hartford in the the season series with the Falcons, who won the first six games between the two clubs.
The Wolf Pack also got a goal and an assist from T.J. Hensick, and Danny Kristo, Arron Asham and Tommy Hughes also scored. Marek Hrivik had two assists. Ryan Craig scored both Springfield goals.
“We had a great third period, we put emphasis on getting pucks to the net,” Wolf Pack head coach Ken Gernander said. “We got some fortuitous bounces, and good things happen when you put pucks on the net.”
The Wolf Pack grabbed the lead twice in the first period, but both times the Falcons came back to tie on goals by Craig, their captain.
Kristo, in his first game back after missing eight with an injury, opened the scoring for Hartford only 1:45 into the game. Kristo forechecked Austin Madaisky off the puck in the right-wing corner and fed the puck toward the front of the Falcon net. The pass hit the toe of Craig’s skate and deflected behind Springfield goaltender Jeremy Smith (24 saves).
Craig tied the score at one at 10:55, on a rebound of a Dana Tyrell shot. Wolf Pack goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris (31 saves) stopped Tyrell’s drive from the top of the right circle, but Craig was able to pounce on the rebound and lift it over a prone Grumet-Morris.
The Wolf Pack were awarded a long five-on-three power play at 12:24, when Darryl Boyce received a double-minor for high-sticking Kyle Beach, and Madaisky was also hit with an elbowing penalty.
Hartford took advantage at 14:17, on Miller’s 11th goal of the season. Miller slapped a shot from the top of the right circle that re-directed off of Craig’s stick and went through Smith’s legs.
Craig rebounded again, though, with only 54.5 seconds remaining in the period. Craig was able to work the puck away from Aaron Johnson in the right-wing corner and head toward the front of the net. Grumet-Morris seemed to have the play shut off, but Craig kept knifing away at the puck and finally managed to poke it behind the Wolf Pack goaltender for a 2-2 tie.
Fast scored the only goal of the second period, off a fine feed from Miller, at 7:35. Kyle Beach, who was at the end of his shift, played the puck down the left-wing side in the Springfield zone to Miller, who found Fast in the slot. Fast unloaded a quick shot that beat Smith over the catching glove.
It remained a one-goal game until nearly the halfway point of the third period, before the Wolf Pack reeled off three quick scores in a span of 4:37.
Asham gave the Wolf Pack a two-goal cushion at 9:59, after Hensick and Hrivik combined to strip Springfield’s Carter Camper of the puck in the slot. Asham jumped on the loose puck and ripped a shot past Smith on the glove side.
Hensick then made it a 5-2 lead at 13:12, on a bad-angle shot. Bretton Stamler worked the puck down the right-wing side to Hensick, who dropped below the goal line and got Smith to come off the post to his left. Hensick’s shot appeared to clip the back of Smith’s mask before finding its way into the net.
Hughes completed the scoring with the second goal of his rookie season at 14:36. Miller banked a pass off the right-wing boards, and Hughes leaned into a shot from the point, powering it over Smith’s catching glove and into the corner of the net.