Just like last game, Hartford scores early. (Took the Wolf Pack four shifts instead of two.) There, the similarities end. What was the difference?
“You’d like to try to play a complete game,” Scott Pellerin said. “We want a 200-foot game, but also the 10-foot game, along the boards. Overall, we battled hard in those areas, where the last time we played them, we didn’t compete in those areas.”
“Our special teams were very good tonight,” Pellerin added later. “The assistant coaches have done a great preparing the team in those areas. … I appreciate that. I thought it was a good 60-minute game for us. This stretch, we haven’t been able to put in that solid 60.”
Oh, and there was Matt Donovan.
“That’s what he does,” Ryan Strome said.
That power-play goal, waiting at the point, waiting for a lane, waiting out J.T. Miller… it just doesn’t happen a lot here.
He made some good plays in both ends, but those two assists jump out.
“That’s his strength,” Pellerin said. “He’s a huge boost for us. He was the difference in the game.”
Donovan said he wanted to come down and work hard and build back some confidence. A play like that? “It definitely helps your confidence,” he said. “Obviously everything happens a little slower in this league, but I think we did pretty well on the power play tonight, moving it around.”
He thought he had been playing well; “I think offensively I was gripping the stick a little too hard, putting too much pressure on myself,” Donovan said.
So here he is, and however long it lasts, his vow is to work hard.
Strome’s second two-goal game of the year followed seven games in a row without lighting the lamp, though those seven games included four assists, including one in each of the last three.
“I’d put up points, but you always want to score,” Strome said. His last game was his first without a shot on goal. He wanted to get the puck to the net early today, and he did it. He finished with five tonight, and two went.
So you’ve got to love your captain getting into the mix, getting feisty. But Chris Bruton’s a month removed from hand surgery. “I’ll be having a discussion with him about that,” Pellerin said. “It just goes to show that all our guys stick up for one another, a pack mentality.”
(Trainer Dave Stickney was a busy man, running to the room with Anders Lee, running to the room with Bruton. Fortunately, everybody followed him back out, too.)
While playing a team that was at 16 skaters because it was besieged by injury and illness, it turns out the Sound Tigers had no healthy scratches. Sean Escobedo is suffering the effects of a hit in Wednesday’s practice and is out for at least the weekend. Joey Diamond is still getting over his sickness, and Kirill Kabanov also came in sick today and got sent home. Sean Wiles could be available this week, Pellerin said, and Brett Gallant wasn’t 100 percent. That’s beyond the longer-term Mike Dalhuisen, Andrey Pedan and Joe Finley.
Prescout. Bruno Gervais with the game-winner for the other guys. We’ll be listening to Saturday’s game and liveblogging here. See you then.