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Wolf Pack Jump Into Playoff Picture

#AHL | Could we see @WolfPackAHL in the postseason? Wednesday’s win over @AHLIslanders moved the Wolf Pack one step closer to a long awaited playoff berth. @FPHBears has the recap

Photo via Hartford Wolf Pack on Twitter.

Wolf Pack Jump Into Playoff Picture

HARTFORD, Ct. – The Hartford Wolf Pack find themselves in the playoff picture. If the season ended today, the American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Rangers would be going to the dance after taking down the Bridgeport Islanders in an Atlantic Division showdown by a 4-1 score. The Wolf Pack overcame an early deficit and rattled off four unanswered goals in front of a light crowd at XL Center on Wednesday night. Jonny Brodzinski tallied two goals in the win and Louis Domingue made 29 saves as the game’s third star. Cory Schneider took the loss in goal with 24 stops.

The teams entered action separated by one point for the sixth and final playoff spot in the division, owned by the Islanders at the start of the game. With the potential to pull away a bit, the Islanders looked to put them away with the game’s first goal as Paul Thompson tallied his ninth goal of the season, surprising Domingue with a quick shot out of a board battle that was well-placed over the shoulder of the goaltender to open the scoring.

Hartford would battle back in the second, taking a 13-4 shot advantage and dealing the bulk of their damage in the frame starting with Brodzinski’s first of the game. He’d steal the puck at the center ice faceoff dot and carry in on a two-on-one rush, beating Schneider over the shoulder to even the count at one. The Wolf Pack would take the lead with the eventual game-winner on the power play as Jake Leschyshyn scored his third goal of the season from a severe angle, tucking the puck over Schneider’s shoulder on the short side to put the home team in front.

The Wolf Pack capped off a big second period with one more tally as Karl Henriksson tallied his sixth of the campaign with a blast of a point shot that had the good fortune of deflecting off of the stick of an Islander on its way to the net to drop and bounce off the ice to fool Schneider. The Islanders would outshoot the Wolf Pack by a 16-6 count in the final frame, but Domingue had all the answers and Brodzinski had an empty net tally to hit the 20-goal mark for the second time in his career at the AHL level.

The win lifts Hartford into the playoff picture as they look to break a nearly decade-long absence from the Calder Cup Playoffs, last making the dance in 2015. It’s far from the end of a challenge for the Wolf Pack to make the postseason, though, as the Islanders have a game in-hand on the Wolf Pack as well as another head-to-head matchup on April 7 in Hartford. The Wolf Pack will have to contend with the conference-leading Providence Bruins in two of their final seven games of the season as well as hungry clubs in Lehigh Valley, Toronto, Springfield, and Wilkes-Barre who will relish the opportunity to be spoilers in Hartford’s playoff hunt. One of those games for the Wolf Pack is their next matchup on Friday against those Bruins in their latest test.

Speaking of tests, the Islanders will have to face those Bruins on Saturday after the Wolf Pack face them. Most of the teams Hartford will be facing will match up against Bridgeport as well, in addition to a game against the Hershey Bears before all is said and done. Five of Bridgeport’s final eight games will be on home ice as they look to take advantage and jump back into the playoff hunt, and it looks like this race will go down to the wire.

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