HARTFORD, Conn – J.T. Miller had a goal and an assist in his return to the AHL for the Hartford Wolf Pack Friday night at the XL Center, and Dov Grumet-Morris made 32 saves in his first game of the year in a Wolf Pack uniform, but the Wolf Pack fell to the Adirondack Phantoms, 3-2 in a shootout.
Cal Heeter made 37 saves in the Phantoms net, and stopped five out of six Hartford shooters in the shootout. Jason Akeson and Ben Holmstrom scored for Adirondack in regulation, and Marek Hrivik had the other Wolf Pack goal.
“We had great secondary attack, creating a lot of chances,” Miller said. “It’s always great when your third and fourth lines can create chances.”
With the standings point for the shootout loss, the Wolf Pack (9-13-0-3, 21 pts.) broke a streak of five straight regulation losses. The Phantoms won their third straight and improved to 12-10-0-2 for 26 points on the year.
The Wolf Pack were shorthanded four times in the first period, but Grumet-Morris, acquired earlier in the day in a trade with the San Antonio Rampage, and the Pack penalty-kill prevented any damage, and the Wolf Pack power-play unit converted on its only opportunity of the period.
With Mark Alt in the penalty box for holding, the Wolf Pack worked some excellent cross-slot passing, with Miller burying a feed from Danny Kristo from the right-wing side.
The goal was the sixth in seven AHL games on the year for Miller.
That lead lasted for almost exactly a period, before the Phantoms tied it at 16:16 of the second session.
Marcel Noebels led an Adirondack rush down the left-wing side and passed down low to former Wolf Pack scoring leader Kris Newbury. Grumet-Morris stopped Newbury’s shot, but Akeson found the rebound, driving the middle, and banged it into the net.
The Phantoms then took a brief lead at 4:12 of the third, on Holmstrom’s fifth goal of the season. Holmstrom got to the slot, and put in a rebound, after Grumet-Morris could not control Tyler Brown’s shot from the left-wing side.
The Wolf Pack’s Shawn O’Donnell was awarded a penalty shot only 18 seconds after that, at 4:30, when he was spilled after getting past the Adirondack defense. Heeter denied the penalty-shot try, but the Wolf Pack would go on to get the equalizer just 38 seconds thereafter.
Hrivik got the tying score at 5:08, getting free in front of the goal to convert the rebound of a shot from the right point by Tommy Hughes.
That was it for the scoring in regulation, and the Wolf Pack could not take advantage of a slashing penalty in overtime against Adirondack’s Oliver Lauridsen.
In the shootout, Miller scored on the Wolf Pack’s first attempt on Heeter, but he then stopped five in a row. Akeson tied the shootout on the Phantoms’ second attempt, and Petr Straka won it in the sixth round, putting a forehand shot high into the net.