Kicking off their first three-in-three weekend of the season, the Worcester Sharks were defeated 5-3 by the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL affiliate of the New York Rangers) Friday night at the XL Center.
The Sharks, who are 2-8-1 in their last 11 games after starting the season 8-3-1, got goals from forwards Daniil Tarasov, Adam Burish and Micheal Haley. Goaltender Troy Grosenick, who was reassigned from San Jose earlier in the week, made 23 saves in his first AHL start since Nov. 8.
In a first period that saw 12 shots on goal by both teams, the Wolf Pack took a 1-0 lead at 19:01 when off a Sharks own zone turnover, defenseman Conor Allen beat Grosenick glove side with a snap shot from inside the left circle for his fourth goal of the season.
Near the midway point of the second period, the Sharks scored two times in a 17-second span to take a 2-1 lead. At 9:43, Sharks defenseman Dylan DeMelo had has right point slap shot deflect in off Tarasov, who was parked in front of Wolf Pack goaltender Jeff Malcolm. Sharks forward Jeremy Langlois had the secondary assist on the goal, which was Tarasov's sixth of the season.
Burish put the Sharks ahead at 10:00 when he beat Malcolm stick side with a quick snap shot from near the left faceoff circle dot for his first AHL goal since the 2006-07 season. Sharks forward Freddie Hamilton and defenseman Konrad Abeltshauser had the assists on the goal.
The Sharks' lead didn't last long as Wolf Pack forward Michael Kostka, who was left all alone at the left hash mark inside the slot, tied the game 19-seconds later when he beat Grosenick with a quick shot after taking an across the slot pass from linemate Chris Bourque for his second goal of the season.
A little over three minutes later at 13:35, Bourque, who was left wide open on top of the goal crease on the left side, put the Wolf Pack ahead 3-2 when he beat Grosenick on a one-timer off a centering feed from the end wall for his 12th goal of the season.
As was the case when the Sharks had their 2-1 lead, the Wolf Pack's 3-2 lead didn't last long as Haley tied the game 30-seconds later when he slammed home a rebound into an open net from on top of the crease for his eighth goal of the season. Sharks forward Evan Trupp had the lone assist on the goal.
The Wolf Pack went ahead 4-3 just 37-seconds into the third period when forward Ryan Haggerty intercepted DeMelo's pass in the neutral zone, skated into the Sharks zone and fired a rocket of a shot from inside the right faceoff circle that beat Grosenick far side for his sixth goal of the season.
Wolf Pack forward Oscar Lindberg sealed a Wolf Pack victory at 5:07 when he beat Grosenick through the wickets with a dribbler of a shot from near the right circle faceoff dot that deflected off the stick of Sharks defenseman Taylor Fedun for his ninth goal of the season.
"It was stupid," said Sharks head coach Roy Sommer of the team's performance in a post game interview with Bill Ballou of Telegram.com. "They score right after we score, they score right at the end of the first period, they score on the first shift in the third period.
"I thought we were headed in the right direction (going into the final 20 minutes). It seems like in this place, we never get a break no matter what we do."
NOTES... Shots on goal were 38-28 in favor of the Sharks... The Sharks went 0-for-3 on the power play and 1-for-1 on the penalty kill... Grosenick is now 7-3-1 with a 2.94 goals-against-average and .901 save percentage... Langlois had a game high five shots on goal... Tarasov extended his point streak to five games (3-2-5)... Sharks defenseman Andrew Blazek made his AHL debut and wore no.39... The Sharks are 2-9-2 in their last 13 games against the Wolf Pack and have 42 points in 57 games in the series (via Ballou)... DeMelo was assessed the only Sharks penalty of the game at 14:20 of the third period when he was called for hooking... Sharks forwards Melker Karlsson, Chris Tierney and defenseman Matt Tennyson were recalled to San Jose earlier in the week... This was the third of four meetings between the Sharks and Wolf Pack this season... The Sharks are 0-3-0 against the Wolf Pack, 4-7-0 on the road and 10-11-2 with 22 points overall... The Sharks' three-in-three weekend continues Saturday night (Dec. 13) as they host the Manchester Monarchs at 7pm/et.
1. Chris Bourque - Wolf Pack (1-1-2)
2. Michael Kostka - Wolf Pack (1-1-2)
3. Marek Hrivik - Wolf Pack (0-2-2)
Tarasov / Oleksuk / Langlois
Lerg (C) / Hamilton / Burish
Haley (A) / Trupp / Carpenter
Bonneau / Schwartz / Hayes
Abeltshauser / DeMelo
Fedun / Young
Taormina (A) / Blazek