The Worcester Sharks went into Hartford to take on the Connecticut Whale Tuesday morning hoping to wipe away the taste of a couple of poor weekend outings that saw them choke away another third period lead to Providence and then play a total flop of a game against Portland, but their continued inability to puck the puck into the net carried on into the Nutmeg State where the WorSharks dropped a 2-1 shootout final at the XL Center Veterans Memorial Coliseum in front of 1,583 fans.
The WorSharks would actually get the first goal of the game, just missing out on it being a power play tally with Brendan Bell’s holding minor expiring as the puck went into the net. The play began with Brandon Mashinter’s shot from the top of the left wing circle being blocked by a Whale penalty killer. The puck went right to Mike Moore, who fired it right back on net. Connecticut goaltender Chad Johnson made the save on Nathan Moon’s tip attempt but Mashinter, who had moves to the top of the crease, was there to bang it home at 9:15.
The Whale would tie the game at 19:10 of the first period as the teams skated four aside, with Worcester defenseman Matt Pelech being in the box after a clean huge hit on Ryan Bourque that Jonathan Audy-Marchessault took exception to that earned him a trip to the sin bin. Mats Zuccarello would get the goal when he tipped Kris Newbury’s centering feed past WorSharks netminder Tyson Sexsmith.
Worcester’s power play–or more correctly, lack of one–went 0-6 in the game, including having two short chances with a two man advantage. In each case the WorSharks were really not able to get any sort of offense going, and on the rare occasion they had a scoring chance Johnson was there to make the save. The game would stay locked at 1-1 through overtime, where Mashinter was the lone WorSharks player to score, while Zuccarello and Newbury connected to send Worcester home 2-1 losers.
Prior to the NHL’s trade deadline the WorSharks lost Mike Connolly as San Jose made a deal with Colorado. At least in the short term he will be replaced on the roster by James Sheppard, who was assigned to Worcester on a conditioning stint. Scratches for the WorSharks were Ben Guite (concussion), Andrew Murray (concussion), Frazer McLaren (groin), Curt Gogol (concussion), Cam MacIntyre (concussion), Brian O’Hanley (healthy), and Harri Sateri (healthy). Alex Stalock was the back-up goaltender.
It was the first AHL game in Sheppard’s pro career having made the NHL right out of juniors in 2007, and his first game at any level since the end of the 2009-10 season. He looked very rusty, and in the third period was noticeably slower than earlier in the contest. He finished the game with four shots on goal and took a hooking minor. He also missed in his shootout attempt.
The three stars of the game were
1. CT – Johnson (33 saves)
2. CT – Newbury (SO gwg)
3. WOR – Moon (a)
The Sharkspage player of the game was Brandon Mashinter.
Worcester 1 0 0 0 – 1
Connecticut 1 0 0 0 – 2
1st Period-1, Worcester, Mashinter 12 (Moon, Moore), 9:15. 2, Connecticut, Zuccarello 12 (Newbury, Vernace), 19:10. Penalties-Bell Ct (holding), 7:15; Pelech Wor (roughing), 17:32; Audy-Marchessault Ct (slashing), 17:32.
2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Valentenko Ct (boarding), 6:22; Zuccarello Ct (high-sticking), 7:36; Vernace Ct (hooking), 9:11; Sheppard Wor (hooking), 12:12.
3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Newbury Ct (high-sticking), 0:58; Grant Ct (hooking), 8:33.
OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties
Shootout – Worcester 1 (Reid NG, Sheppard NG, Combs NG, Mashinter G, Lucia NG), Connecticut 2 (Zuccarello G, Wellman NG, Bell NG, Audy-Marchessault NG, Newbury G).
Shots on Goal-Worcester 7-14-9-4-0-34. Connecticut 5-8-8-1-1-23.
Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 0 / 6; Connecticut 0 / 1.
Goalies-Worcester, Sexsmith 10-10-6 (22 shots-21 saves). Connecticut, Johnson 17-11-5 (34 shots-33 saves).
Referees-Ryan Hersey (46), Jon McIsaac (39).
Linesmen-Paul Simeon (66), Kevin Redding (16).