Gary Shuchuk's short-handed goal on a breakaway at 14 minutes, 1 second of the third period propelled the Adirondack Red Wings to a 5-3 American Hockey League victory over the Baltimore Skipjacks last night at the Baltimore Arena.
The loss pushed Baltimore's winless streak to seven (0-5-2), its longest of the season, and allowed the Red Wings, who broke a four-game losing streak, to creep closer to the Skipjacks, who are in third place in the Southern Division.
The Skipjacks, who had rallied from a 3-1 deficit, were trying to take the lead during their 11th power-play opportunity of the game when Shuchuk picked off an errant pass just inside his blue line, got between the Skipjacks defensemen and went in on a breakaway on Olaf Kolzig. Shuchuk scored with a wrist shot from close range.
Bill McDougall scored a short-handed, empty-net goal with 38 seconds remaining for the final margin.
"Our inability to score on the power play [1-for-12] and the play of [Randy] Hansch in the goal was the difference," said Skipjacks coach Rob Laird. "We fell behind, but we stuck with Adirondack and wore them down in the third period. We had a lot of very good chances, but couldn't score. It seemed that Hansch [who made 33 saves] was always there to stop us. We battled back to tie and then we made a mistake on the power play [Shuchuk's goal] and it killed us. It was a heartbreaking loss."
Steve Seftel cut the Red Wings' lead to 3-2 at the 17-second mark of the third period when he took the puck away from the Red Wings' Al Conroy and wristed a shot from the top of the right circle past Hansch.
Alfie Turcotte tied the score at 3 on the rebound of a shot by Mark Ferner during a power play at 12:23. Ferner kept the puck in the offensive end with a sliding stop, got up and ripped a slap shot from the left point. Hansch made the save, but the puck bounced out in the slot and Turcotte lifted it over the prone Hansch.
"It was a very big game for us, and we knew we needed to win," said Hansch, who is 5-2-1. "The guys were clearing the net well in front of me. Baltimore went to the point on the power play, and they had guys in front of the net. But my defense cleared them out and let me see the first shot. This win puts us back in the playoff hunt."
"Hansch played great again," said Red Wings coach Barry Melrose. "He's been hurt for two years, but he's always played solid for us when he's been healthy. He's going to play a lot down the stretch for us."
The Skipjacks' Jeff Greenlaw said: "We're just not scoring goals. getting the chances, but we aren't putting the puck in the net. But we'll come out of it. We're too good a team not to. We just have to dig down a little deeper and all pull together. Soon we'll be flying again."
Melrose said: "We wanted this game badly, and we played hard. What I liked about our team is that we gave up the tying goal, but we regained our composure and took over the momentum again. We didn't fold when the penalties came, like we've been doing in our last four games.
NOTES: Former Washington Capitals coach Bryan Murray and former Skipjacks coach Doug MacLean were on hand last night. Murray is general manager and head coach of the Detroit Red Wings and MacLean is his assistant coach. They were evaluating the talent on Adirondack, Detroit's top farm club. Tuesday is the trading deadline. "I just want to get a firsthand look at the players we have on Adirondack to get an idea of what to expect for next week," said Murray. . . . G Jim Hrivnak, RW Tim Bergland, D Kent Paynter and RW Reggie Savage are on recall with the Washington Capitals. Savage is recovering from a pulled groin muscle and said he hopes to return for the Skipjacks' game in Hersheypark Arena, March 9. Savage has scored 9 of his 27 goals against the Bears.
Adirondack 2 1 2 -- 5
Baltimore 1 0 2 -- 3
First period--1. Baltimore, Quenneville 3 (Greenlaw, Vykoukal), 3:41; 2. Adirondack, Merkosky 22 (McDougall, Bissett), pp, 13:31; 3. Adirondack, Wilkie 5 (Holland), 14:12. Penalties--Potvin, Adr (roughing), 7:04; Malgunas, Ard (interference), 10:25; Mendel, Bal holding), 13:14; McDougall, Adr (roughing), 14:30; Potvin, Adr (roughing), 14:30; Taylor, Bal (roughing), 14:30; Murray, Bal (cross-checking), 16:41; Larter, Bal (cross-checking), 18:46.
Second period--4. Adirondack, McDougall 40 (Malgunas), 17:04. Penalties--Nill, Adr (roughing), 2:38; Holland, Adr (boarding), 2:38; Maltais, Bal (roughing), 2:38; Kruppke, Adr (holding), 7:09; Mathieson, Bal (cross-checking), 7:09; Nill, Adr ( holding), 7:50; Malgunas, Adr (holding), 9:32; Wilkie, Adr (slashing), 10:37; Potvin, Adr (roughing), 13:01; Purves, Bal (hooking and roughing), 13:01; Shank, Adr (slashing), 14:25.
Third period--5. Baltimore, Seftel 20, 0:17; 6. Baltimore, Turcotte 28 (Ferner, Sjogren), pp, 12:23; 7. Adirondack, Shuchuk 19, sh, 14:01; 8. Adirondack, McDougall 41, sh, en, 19:22. Penalties--Larter, Bal (roughing), 2:03; Shank, Adr (hooking), 10:05; Conroy, Adr double-minor (high-sticking and unsportsmanlike conduct), 11:34; Potvin, Adr (high-sticking), 1:51.
Shots on goal--Adirondack 12-14-10-36. Baltimore 8-15-13-36Power-play opportunities--Adirondack 1 of 5. Baltimore 1 of 12. Goalies--Adirondack, Hansch 5-2-1 (36 shots, 33 saves). Baltimore, Kolzig 9-11-1 (36-32). A--2,518. Referee--Kevin Muench. Linesmen--Matt Dunne, Brett Parson.