HARTFORD, CT – The Hartford Wolf Pack haven’t been very good this season. If there’s been one bright spot, it has probably been Goaltender Magnus Hellberg.
Hellberg stopped 31 shots, and Pavel Buchnevich and Chris Brown used goals 1:23 apart midway through the middle period to edge the Lehigh Valley Phantoms 2-1 Friday night at XL Center in Hartford.
Things started out good for the Phantoms, as they controlled puck possession for the first few minutes of the game, and they wound up netting the first goal of the game at 5:34. T.J. Brennan’s point shot was initially stopped by Hellberg. Danick Martel swept the puck back into Hellberg and the puck popped into the air. Jordan Weal, who was standing at the side of the net, knocked the puck out of the air, off the Hartford goalie, and into the net.
The goal was Weal’s 11th of the season.
Hartfpord’s best chance of the period came with six minutes left when a Philip McRae point shot was deflected onto Anthony Stolarz by John Gilmour, who was cutting through the slot. Shots in the period favored the visitors, nine to five.
The Wolf Pack fixed whatever issues they were having in the inytermission, and the game started to turn.
A Hartford power play knotted the game at one. A pretty passing sequence wound of finding Pavel Buchnevich, who was assigned to Hartford by the New York Rangers earlier in the day, all alone on the goal line. His shot went top shelf over the shoulder of Stolarz. Assists went to Troy Bodie and Justin Fontaine.
1:23 later, McRae one a faceoff and Chris Brown stepped into a snap shot that beat Stolsarz over the trapper. It was Brown’s seventh of the season. The Phantoms best chance to tie the game was a Robert Hagg slapshot from the top of the near circle with 2:16 left in the period, but Hellberg stopped it with his chest.
The third was all Lehigh Valley. They peppered Hellberg, and he just kept turing them away. They got an early power play thanks to a tripping penalty on former Lehigh Valley Forward Brandon Alderson at 2:59. With six seconds left, Taylor Leier had a golden chance in front, bit was poke checked by Hellberg.
Weal’s unsportsmanlike penalty gave Hartford a chance to extend the lead, but they only had one chance, on Gilmour’s slapshot just as the man advantage ended. Lehigh Valley had two great chances in the final minute, but Brennan’s point shot was blocked by Ryan Graves, and he then hit the post just as the horn sounded.
Notes: With Defenseman Mark Alt playing his first game of the season after suffering an injury in training camp, Corban Knight and Reece Willcox were healthy scratches.
3) HFD-Pavel Buchnevich (Goal)
2) HFD-Chris Brown (Goal)
1) HFD-Magnus Hellberg (31 Saves)
Up Next: Lehigh Valley returns home Saturday to host former Phantom Petr Straka and the Albany Devils at 7:05
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