After a strong regular season that included the Atlantic Division title, the Hartford Wolf Pack saw a disappointing postseason end with a 5-3 loss in Worcester on Saturday night.
With their victory, the Sharks eliminated the Rangers' AHL affiliate from the Calder Cup playoffs in a six-game series. Worcester won four consecutive games after Hartford had gone up 2-0 to open the playoffs. During the regular season, the Sharks finished 12 points behind Pack, and the series result was a reminder that anything can happen once the playoffs begin.
|Dale Weise |
Dale Weise scored twice for Hartford on Saturday night, and Matt Zaba stopped 28 shots in goal, but it wasn't enough to overcome a three-goal first period by Worcester and a two-goal game by Dan DaSilva, who finished the night with three total points to earn No. 1 Star honors.
Goaltender Thomas Greiss got the win for Worcester, stopping 25 shots. Greiss, the hero of Worcester's Game 3 double-overtime victory that turned the series around, was the game's No. 2 star.
Andrew Desjardins got the Sharks off to a quick 1-0 lead at 3:53 of the first period, scoring off assists from former NHL defenseman Kyle McLaren and winger DaSilva.
Hartford playoff scoring leader Dane Byers, a 2004 Rangers second-round pick, made it a 1-1 game with his third goal of the postseason at 6:31 of the first. Byers connected on a power play, with defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti, the Rangers' No. 1 pick in 2006, getting the lone assist.
The Pack seemed to be gaining momentum, but the Sharks came back with two goals over the next eight minutes to stretch their lead to 3-1.
Lukas Kaspar broke the tie at 12:17 of the first period, and DaSilva scored to make it 3-1 with 5:31 left in the opening frame. McLaren, who is San Jose property but playing in the AHL despite many years of NHL experience, assisted on DaSilva's goal.
Rookie Dale Weise, a 2008 Rangers draftee, cut the lead to 3-2 at 5:53 of the middle period, scoring at even strength from Brodie Dupont and Sanguinetti, but DaSilva struck again with only 3:08 left in the second to make it a 4-2 game heading into the final 20 minutes.
Logan Couture increased Worcester's advantage to 5-2 with the first goal of the third period at the 13:18 mark. That put Hartford in a three-goal hole, which was too much to overcome despite Weise's second goal of the game with 1:57 remaining in the third period.
Weise's goal -- the last of Hartford's season -- was assisted by defenseman Brian Fahey, who had joined the Rangers organization as a free agent last summer.