© — Photos by Jeff Parsons/St. John’s IceCaps
The St. John’s IceCaps’ Cark Klingberg scores a goal past the Hartford Wolfpack’s Dov Grumet-Morris in the second period of the team’s American Hockey League game Sunday afternoon at Mile One Centre. Klingberg, one of six players re-assigned to St. John’s by the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday, also had two assists.
With host of players re-assigned from the NHL in the lineup, St. John’s crushes Hartford 6-2 to salvage split
Offering a glimpse of the lineup IceCaps fans might expect to see in the American Hockey League’s post-season which gets under way in eight or 10 days time, St. John’s turned the tables on the Hartford Wolf Pack to the tune of a 6-2 win Sunday afternoon.
The win at Mile One Centre set a new single-season franchise record of 45 wins and 95 points, and halted the Wolf Pack’s win streak at seven games.
Hartford’s seventh win came Saturday night, an easy 7-2 decision over the IceCaps.
But St. John’s played that game minus the services of six players who had just been reassigned from the parent Winnipeg Jets.
They certainly made their impact Sunday as Carl Klingberg, who scored his first NHL goal last week, had a goal and two assists while Zach Redmond contributed with a pair of helpers as the IceCaps inched closer to securing home ice advantage in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs.
Michael Hutchinson, who went 2-1 in Winnipeg’s last three games of the regular season, with wins over the Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames, was given the night off, but Tyler Beskorowany was good enough to post his seventh win with a 28-save effort.
“It helps when you add six members of an NHL team to your lineup,” said IceCaps captain Jason Jaffray, who had a pair of assists. “It’s obviously going to benefit you. With them, we have more depth in scoring.
“It’s nice to have that trio of Klingberg, (Kael) Mouillierat and (Eric) O’Dell back together. They were hard to handle out there.”
Joining Klingberg and Redmond on the junket back from Winnipeg Saturday evening were O’Dell, Patrice Cormier and Ben Chiarot, along with Hutchinson.
O’Dell, who appeared in 30 games with Winnipeg this season, registering three goals and four assists, and Chiarot also picked up assists Sunday.
John Albert, hot as a pistol since his last stint in Winnipeg, had a pair of goals for the IceCaps. Albert has 10 goals in 10 games since being reassigned from the Jets March 22.
Mouillierat, fresh of a 14-game stay on injured reserve, had a goal and an assist in only his second game back, while Jerome Samson and Blair Riley also scored.
Chris McCarthy and Danny Kristo scored for the Wolf Pack.
Klingberg, who netted his first NHL marker Friday in a 5-3 win over the Calgary Flames, with assists going to Redmond and Cormier, admitted he has a “real good feeling” about the IceCaps as they look to the playoffs.
He feels good about his game, too. His three points Sunday improved his numbers to 21 goals and 20 assists in 63 AHL games this season.
“From a confidence standpoint,” Klingberg said, “it feels good to have played a few games up there (in the NHL), but I felt confident the last three months, really.
“It’s not only about the NHL,” he said, “it’s about me. It’s about playing good all the time, and I’ve felt good the past while.”
Sunday’s win improved St. John’s to 44-23-2-5 on the year, the third-best record in the Eastern Conference. St. John’s still sits fourth overall, however, as the top three seeds are awarded to the division winners.
In addition to the franchise record-setting win, the IceCaps snapped a nasty zero-for-27 power play funk with Mouillierat’s goal in the second period.
Sunday’s game saw defencemen Will O’Neill and Julian Melchiori scratched from the lineup, although the latter appeared to be hurt in Saturday’s game. Up front, Josh Lunden was scratched, all of which could be a sign of things to come.
“Everybody has made it tough on the coach (to choose a lineup),” Jaffray said. “If you looked at this lineup two or three weeks ago, when we were getting decimated by Winnipeg with all the callups, you’d think a lot of the guys would have been happy with a .500 record.
“But the guys stepped up, played well and we kept getting points. We took three of four points from Springfield, and three or four from Hamilton with a very depleted lineup.
“And that’s what I like about our team, the depth. You look at the four lines we had going tonight, you couldn’t pick out a fourth line from the first line.”
The IceCaps’ win Sunday, coupled with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 3-2 loss to Toronto and Binghamton’s 1-0 overtime loss to Hershey, leaves St. John’s three and four points up on the Penguins and Senators in the East.
One of those teams, regardless of record, will finish ahead of the IceCaps because either the Pens or Sens will win the East Division within the Eastern Conference.
To maintain home ice advantage in the first round of the best-of-five playoffs, the IceCaps must remain ahead of the other team.
At least one win next weekend when the IceCaps close out the regular season in Worcester, Mass., and Portland, Me., against the Sharks and Pirates, will guarantee St. John’s home ice.