Devils defeat Wolf PackJanuary 29, 2010 - American Hockey League (AHL) Connecticut Whale
Most of the Wolf Pack players, however, failed to absorb that message. The Wolf Pack were outshot 13-1 in the opening 14:10, and starting goaltender Steve Valiquette was pulled after allowing two goals on nine shots in 8:41.
The Wolf Pack got even midway through the second period, but Brad Mills' second goal with 5:48 left in the period provided the difference as the Lowell Devils beat the injury-riddled Wolf Pack 3-2 before 4,162 at the XL Center.
"Our start cost us the game," Wolf Pack center Corey Locke said. "When you need to come back at home, it's tough, especially when a lot of guys have to play a lot of minutes due to some injuries. But there were a lot of positives to come out of the game, other than the start."
The Wolf Pack (23-19-2-4) did everything but tie the game in the third period, when they got 19 of their 37 shots, including nine on their sixth and final power play. They included a Brodie Dupont deflection that went off Devils goalie Mike McKenna (35 saves) and stopped inches from the goal line at 9:43.
"We had numerous chances on every power play," Locke said. "One sits on the line, and even some of the shots from the point got tipped or just hit him. We just didn't get the breaks."
A Dale Weise deflection with goalie Matt Zaba pulled for a sixth attacker went just high with 47.6 seconds left, and the Devils (28-17-3-1) escaped with a franchise-record sixth consecutive road victory since a 3-2 loss at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Dec. 8.
"It's hard battling back when you get down that quickly," Wolf Pack captain Dane Byers said. "Getting a good start was addressed before the game, and it wasn't Valiquette's fault that we got behind so fast. He had to pay for the bad start. We nearly tied it up, but we couldn't pull it out."
The loss left the Wolf Pack (23-19-2-4) on a four-game winless skid (0-3-1), their longest since a season-high, six-game slide (0-4-1-1) from Nov. 28 to Dec. 11.
After Valiquette denied Michael Swift alone in front at 4:49, the Devils' league-leading power play produced a 1-0 lead at 5:15, when Nathan Perkovich deflected Swift's shot from the right circle between the Wolf Pack goalie's legs.
Valiquette then headed to bench in favor of Zaba, after Stephen Gionta's pass to Mills set up a 2-on-1 on which Mills beat Valiquette high to the glove side.
Justin Soryal then fought Rob Davison at 10:28, and the Wolf Pack finally showed some life.
"Everyone kind of built off that," Locke said. "But it shouldn't take until the 10-minute mark to get started."
Zaba (25 saves) stopped a backhander by a wide-open Myles Stoesz at 13:29, and the Wolf Pack got to 2-1 on their first power play as Byers redirected a deflected shot by Kenny Roche through McKenna's legs at 15:10.
McKenna kept the Devils ahead when he denied Weise alone in front at 1:08 of the second period. Weise, the Wolf Pack's third-leading scorer, returned after missing three games with an injury. But center Ryan Garlock left in the first period and defenseman Michael Sauer departed in the second period with undisclosed injuries, leaving the Wolf Pack without five of their six defensemen from the start of the season.
The Devils' second power play produced chances for both sides. First, Zaba flicked out his right pad to deny Brad Snetsinger at 6:35, then on the ensuing short-handed counterattack, McKenna came out to stop Jordan Owens on a 2-on-1.
Less than two minutes later, Alexander Vasyunov stole pass from fellow Russian Evgeny Grachev for a partial breakaway that was stopped by Zaba, thanks in part to defenseman David Urquhart hustling back to catch the Devils' left wing.
The Wolf Pack then tied it at 2 when Soryal deflected Jared Nightingale's shot from the right point past McKenna at 9:10.
The Devils regained the lead for good at 14:12 when Mills deflected Gionta's shot from the left circle into the far top corner. The Devils nearly took a two-goal lead with 2:36 left in the period, but Gionta's shot hit the post.
McKenna made good stops off Weise and Byers during the Wolf Pack's sixth power play early in the third period and then made the nine saves during the ensuing short-handed situation.
Zaba kept the Wolf Pack close when he made a right pad save on a wide-open Gionta with 7:46 left and stopped Vasyunov alone in front with 1:52 to go.
The Wolf Pack pulled Zaba for a sixth attacker with 1:08 left, but Weise's near-miss enabled the Devils to escape with the victory.
"We don't question the guys' heart or character or ability to fight off the mat, but now we have to question the start and why we put ourselves behind the 8-ball," said Gernander. "We got stronger as the game went on, had plenty of scoring chances and did some good things, but we paid the price for our start.
"We need any number of things to turn the momentum, but collectively, everyone has to be better off the get-go."
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