Sean Avery got three penalties and a goal in the game Hartford won over Portland tonight. In his previous seven games in the AHL, he had just one penalty.
He got caught for tripping, cross-checking, and elbowing. His team fell behind 3-0 in the first two periods but tied it by the end of regulation time. Hartford out-scored Portland 2-1 in the shoot-out for the 4-3 victory.
The Hartford Wolf Pack got their sixth win in a row when they played the Portland Pirates tonight in Maine. The game against the Pirates might have been the final appearance for Sean Avery in a Wolf Pack uniform.
Avery's 8th and probably final game in the AHL was the first sellout crowd (6,982) of the season at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine.
The Portland Pirates got the first goal of the game, five minutes in, on a power play, when Tim Kennedy scored, assisted by Marc-Andre Gragani and Mike Kosta, against Avery's line. Portland scored again, ten minutes later. Marek Zagrapan's goal was unassisted.
Both teams had 13 shots on net in the first period.
Portland made it 3-0 in the second period on a goal by Tyler Bouck.
Hartford made a major comeback and scored three goals to tie the game in the third period. Avery picked up a couple of penalties, for tripping and cross-checking, and then he scored a goal.
Tommy Pyatt scored Hartford's first goal, assisted by Mike Ouellette and Tomas Zaborsky, then Sean Avery, assisted by David Urquhart and Patrick Rissmiller, and then Ouellette scored 38 seconds later, assisted by Zaborski. Avery ran over goaltender Jeff Jakaitis and poked the puck home, according to OurSportsCentral.
In overtime, there were no goals. The teams were tied in the number of shots, too, with 32 apiece.
In the shootout, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Rissmiller, shooting first and last, scored for Hartford. Colin Murphy scored for Portland.
Hartford won the game without their top scorer. Ex-Pirate P.A. Parenteau, who leads the Wolf Pack with 26 goals, was scratched from the Hartford lineup after he was hit in the back of the head by a puck during warm-ups, according to the Portland Press Herald.
Bob Crawford, who writes Howlings, on the Wolf Pack's website, said, "It seems as though more than a year’s-worth of interest and attention has been directed at the Wolf Pack in the short time since Avery first practiced with the Pack last Tuesday."
He also said, "the way Avery conducted himself around the Wolf Pack was nothing like what seems to be the general perception of him. All I have to go on is what I have experienced and observed, and I can say without hesitation that he went out of his way to be extra cordial to me in any dealings I had with him, and he seemed to mesh very well with his new teammates."
Crawford also reported that, "the speed with which the other Pack players on the ice jumped in to have Avery’s back in the first scrum he was involved in Saturday night indicates that they have assimilated him quickly into the fabric of the team, and that they are eager to have his talents and energy on their side."
"Another thing that was obvious about Avery was his skill as a hockey player," Crawford notes. "One pass he made, between his own legs, from below the goal line right onto the tape of P.A. Parenteau was the kind that makes you say, 'Wow, how in the world did he think to do that?'"
Avery was expected to be placed on recall waivers by the Dallas Stars on Sunday or Monday and then reunited with the New York Rangers in the NHL.
The Rangers lost 12 of their last 14 games, going 2-8-4. Rangers fans hope Avery will add some spice to the team which has been termed 'vanilla' in recent months.
With the Wolf Pack, Avery had just one penalty in eight games. The last time that he played in the AHL, several years ago, with the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks, he had 304.
Avery joined the Wolf Pack earlier this month, and in seven games, the Hartford AHL team has won five in a row. This season, their previous best winning streak was three in a row.
The recent string of victories has put the Wolf Pack in second place, three points ahead of the Portland Pirates.
Hartford is 33-23-2-3 for 71 points.
Portland is 29-23-3-6 for 66 points.
The last time these two teams played, Avery set up defense-man Mike Sauer's goal at 2:21 into overtime, for a 2-1 win against the Pirates in Hartford.
The headline in the Portland Press Herald and the Maine Sunday Telegram said "NHL Bad Boy In Town To Face The Pirates." The papers called Avery "the player fans love to hate", saying he was one of the NHL's top agitators for the past eight years, and promised him a very bad reception.