The Hartford Wolf Pack saw their remarkable season end Sunday night in an overtime thriller at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine.
The Rangers' AHL affiliate, which rallied from a 3-2 deficit to win its first-round series against Manchester last month, couldn't repeat history against the higher-seeded Pirates in the Atlantic Division Finals.
Portland's Pierre Parenteau notched a power-play goal at 3:06 of overtime for the 5-4 win in Game 6 that send the Pirates into the Eastern Conference finals, where they will meet Hershey. The Wolf Pack, who had battled back from a 3-2 deficit to take a 4-3 lead through two periods, were looking to force a seventh game back in Hartford.
Nigel Dawes, the Rangers' fifth-round pick in 2003, gave the Pack a 4-3 lead with 1:11 remaining in the middle period, but Portland's Garrett Bembridge scored his second goal of the game early in the third, setting the stage for Parenteau to win it in overtime. The game-winner was Parenteau's second of the game.
Former NHL goalie Jani Hurme stopped 28 Wolf Pack shots, including all four in overtime. Hartford outshot Portland 4-2 in the OT.
The loss overshadowed an outstanding performance by goaltender Chris Holt, another 2003 Rangers draftee. Holt, who played one period for the Blueshirts earlier this season in Washington, stopped 33 of 38 Portland shots, including 16 in the first period, when the Pirates threatened to break the game open.
Had they extended the series, the Wolf Pack would have been home for Game 7 due to an unusual 2-4-2 format necessitated by scheduling conflicts. As a result, Portland had the luxury of playing four straight at home and went 3-1 over those games.
On Sunday night, the Wolf Pack found themselves in a quick 1-0 hole before Dwight Helminen tied it up a 13:02 of the first. Hartford then took a brief 2-1 lead on Colby Genoway's fourth playoff goal at 15:09 of the opening period, which ended in a 2-2 tie.
Portland took another lead early in the second period when former NHLer Aaron Gavey scored at 5:24 to make it 3-2, but then the Wolf Pack came back with back-to-back goals by rookies Brandon Dubinsky
and Dawes. Dubinsky scored on an assist from Dale Purinton at 8:47 of the middle period and Dawes delivered the Pack's first lead of the game at 18:49.
The Pirates outshot the Pack 10-4 in the third period, but their only goal was Bembridge's game-tying tally.