On the night when the Rangers' 2005-06 season ended, the Blueshirts' top minor-league affiliate completed a dramatic Game 7 victory over Manchester to reach the second round of the American Hockey League playoffs.
Alexandre Giroux, who played one game for the Rangers earlier this season, was the hero Saturday night, snapping a 1-1 tie with 13:44 remaining in the third period to give the Hartford Wolf Pack a 2-1 win over the Monarchs. The Pack, who had trailed the series 3-2 after five games, completed a two-game comeback to win their Atlantic Division semifinal series.
Hartford, which finished second in the AHL's Atlantic Division during the regular season, will face the first-place Portland Pirates in the division final series. Game 1 of the series is scheduled for Tuesday night in Hartford.
Giroux took a pass from Martin Sonnenberg and fired in a shot from the low slot, beating Monarchs goalie Adam Hauser to the blocker side.
Hartford shut down Manchester the rest of the way. Chris Holt, pressed into the starting role after Al Montoya was injured in the Game 5 loss, finished with 26 saves for his second straight win.
Dany Roussin scored the only goal for Manchester, which suffered a first-round playoff defeat for the fifth straight year. Hauser made 34 stops on the night.
The Wolf Pack rallied from 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 series deficits to advance. Their second-round series against division champion Portland will be played in a 2-4-1 format, due to building conflicts at the Hartford Civic Center.