Driedger Dominant in T-Birds Shutout Win in Hartford
HARTFORD, Conn. - The Springfield Thunderbirds (19-14-5-4) rode a fantastic performance from their starting netminder and came away with their second shutout win of the season, a 3-0 triumph over the Hartford Wolf Pack (19-18-2-3) on Saturday night inside the XL Center.
Goaltenders Chris Driedger and Alex Georgiev would be called upon to be at their very best in the opening 20 minutes of play, as the two clubs combined for 24 shots in the opening period. Georgiev had a reply to make all 14 saves in the Hartford crease, while Driedger carried over his clutch relief showing on Wednesday to stop all 10 first period shots he faced.
Both teams' power plays had a chance in the opening period to break a scoreless tie, but neither would be successful. For a second straight night, the T-Birds went to the first intermission scoreless.
After a strong first period showing, the Thunderbirds picked right up where they left off to break into the scoring column early in the second. Just 1:12 into the period, and looking to snap an 0-for-9 power play slump, Jacob MacDonald wristed a puck through heavy traffic at the left point to squeeze it into the twine to make it 1-0. Dryden Hunt also created traffic by flailing his stick in the shooting lane.
Less than five minutes later, the Thunderbirds got more net front pressure to extend their lead. After weaving out to the top of the left wing circle, Jonathan Ang flung a puck toward the goal crease. After nicking Jake Horton near the blue paint, the puck trickled ever so slowly past the goal line to give Springfield its 2-0 lead at the 6:05 mark.
Driedger and the defense continued their stout evening, fending off 12 second period Wolf Pack shots and killing off two more Hartford power plays, extending the team's penalty kill success streak to 16 straight kills.
The goaltender's workload only got bigger in the final period, but time and time again, Driedger was there for the answers. With Hartford desperate in the closing minutes, and Georgiev on the bench for an extra skater, Tomas Jurco got his first goal as a Thunderbird, launching a 100-foot shot into the open net to seal the 3-0 victory.
Driedger's 40-save shutout was his fourth win as a Thunderbird and his first AHL blanking since Oct. 15, 2016, when he was a member of the Binghamton Senators.
The Thunderbirds now sit 47 points in the Atlantic Division and will maintain playoff positioning heading into their next matchup, a Monday matinee at 1:05 p.m. on home ice against the Laval Rocket.
Springfield Thunderbirds fans are encouraged to visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com to learn more about 2018-19 Thunderbirds Ticket Memberships. Packages include a wide range of benefits, including the lowest prices for the 2019 Lexus AHL All-Star Classic presented by MGM Springfield. For more information or to order now, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.
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