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Hartford falls to Portland in series opener

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

Alexandre Giroux and Dwight Helminen's goals were not enough for the Hartford Wolf Pack on Tuesday as the Rangers' American Hockey League affiliate fell to Portland 6-2 in Game 1 of the Atlantic Division Finals.

Former Boston College star Ryan Shannon, a native of Darien, Conn., made a big return to his home state in scoring a hat trick to lead the way for Portland. The teams will meet again at the Hartford Civic Center in Game 2 on Thursday night before Portland hosts Games 3-6 in the best-of-seven series.

Portland took the first 10 shots on goal of the night and claimed a 1-0 lead on Geoff Peters' third goal of the postseason. Zenon Konopka set up the goal, giving him a point in 19 consecutive games (12 regular season, seven postseason).

Shannon notched his first goal of the night with 5:08 remaining in the opening period, giving the Pirates a 2-0 lead. Giroux cut the deficit in half 34 seconds later with his fourth playoff goal, as Brad Smyth and Jarkko Immonen assisted on the play.

Shannon picked up his second goal late in the middle period to put the Pirates up 3-1. Again, it took the Wolf Pack less than a minute to respond, as Helminen scored at the 16:18 mark off assists from Giroux and Thomas Pock.

Portland broke away with three unanswered goals in the third period. Curtis Glencross restored the two-goal lead early in the third. Konopka and Shannon added insurance goals, with Shannon completing the hat trick into an empty net at 18:52.

Konopka finished a goal and an assist for the Pirates, and Shane O'Brien recorded two assists.
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