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Rats' rally not enough after Bruin's hat trick
By MATT GRAVES, Staff writer
First published: Monday, March 20, 2000
ALBANY -- The Albany River Rats are going to have to wait a few more days to continue their quest for second place. Providence forward Peter Ferraro and his linemates saw to that Sunday afternoon.
The NHL veteran deflated the Rats with a first-period hat trick as Providence jumped out to a five-goal lead despite bringing in only 14 skaters, then held on for dear life in a 5-4 AHL victory over the Rats in front of 4,007 at Pepsi Arena.
Ferraro's line with Jason Krog and Jay Henderson accounted for all the Bruins' scoring and 10 points in all.
"It was too little, too late,'' said Rats' coach John Cunniff, whose club remained in the hunt for second place with Syracuse and Hamilton. Syracuse beat Hershey 3-2 Sunday, putting the team four points ahead of Albany (67-63) in the standings. Hamilton, which did not play, remained a point up.
"Peter (coach Laviolette) did a good job,'' Cunniff said. "He put one line together to win the game and they won it. The other two lines worked their (butts) off defensively.''
Ferraro, who has had stints with three NHL teams, scored his 18th goal only 41 seconds after the opening faceoff on a rebound of Henderson's shot that starting goalie J.-F. Damphousse failed to clear. Then, after assisting on Krog's 13th goal at 2:59, Ferraro lit the lamp twice more before the first-period intermission -- both on power plays.
"They weren't ready for the first two shifts on (Sylvain) Cloutier's line,'' Cunniff said. "You fall asleep for a second and it's in the net. You have to give those three guys credit, they're hard-working players. Those guys played at a higher level.''
With Damphousse lifted following the second goal, Ferraro jammed a rebound past Frederic Henry at 9:19, then slammed a slap shot from about 25 feet at 18:48 to make it 4-0.
It was 5-0 only 2:30 into the second period when Krog connected again from the left circle, prompting Cunniff to return Damphousse to the Rats' net. That's when Albany began to display some sense of urgency, but the mountain was too steep.
Defenseman Willie Mitchell scored from in close at 5:25, then captain Steve Brule scored unassisted on a slap shot from the left circle over goalie Kay Whitmore's glove at 9:19.
The Rats were back in it when defenseman Ken Sutton stickhandled past a defenseman and backhanded a short wrister for his third goal in as many games at 19:19 to cut the deficit to 5-3.
Rats cut the deficit to a single goal at 16:04 of the third period when Jiri Bicek wristed in a shot from the right slot with Stanislav Gron and Cloutier picking up their second assists of the game, but they couldn't get the equalizer with six skaters after pulling Damphousse at 18:36.
"We haven't scored a goal yet when we've pulled the goalie,'' Cunniff said. "Maybe it's coming in the playoffs, who knows? We had a chance for second place tonight. Every time we've had these sort of games come up we fell short.''
The Rats (27-39-6), who have only eight games left in the regular season, are off until Saturday when they travel to Canada to take on the Saint John Flames.
"We battled back tonight, but there's no way you're gonna be able to come back like that in the playoffs,'' said Brule.
Rats defenseman Andre Lakos reinjured his shoulder and will be sent
to New Jersey this week to be reassessed.