NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Last week, goaltender Byron Dafoe stopped 42 shots for the New Haven Nighthawks as they won an important American Hockey League road game against the Capital District Islanders.
Dafoe was on loan from the Baltimore Skipjacks, who reclaimed him that night. In Dafoe's return to the New Haven Coliseum last night, the Skipjacks surrendered an early two-goal lead and were 7-4 losers to the Nighthawks before 2,244.
The Skipjacks thought they might have shaken their funk Monday, when behind Dafoe they beat Utica to end a 10-game winless streak.
Instead, their road problems continue. New Haven took control in the second period, outscoring Baltimore 3-0.
"We've just been letting down for 10, 15 minutes. They capitalized on us in the second period," Dafoe said.
Baltimore has lost eight of its past nine road games. Hoping to catch Utica for the final AHL Southern Division playoff spot, the Skipjacks have three games left of a six-game trip. Utica faced Adirondack yesterday.
The Jacks face New Haven again tomorrow. The feeling isn't too eerie for Dafoe, who spent about a month with the Nighthawks.
"I got to know the guys pretty good. But returning wasn't that big of a deal," he said.
Trailing 5-2 after two periods, the Skipjacks flirted with a comeback when Tim Taylor scored 52 seconds into the third. But New Haven left wing John Anderson completed a hat trick with two straight goals to give New Haven a 7-3 lead. Both goals came at the expense of Olaf Kolzig, who replaced Dafoe at the start of the third period.
Reggie Savage's power-play goal was the final score, but at 16:30 in the third period, it came too late for the Skipjacks.
New Haven struck early in the second period to break open a 2-2 tie. Stan Drulia, the Nighthawks' second-leading scorer, put in a rebound at 1:04 to make it 3-2. It was Drulia's 29th goal this season.
"We're a little bit desperate right now," Savage said. "We're not in a state of panicking. But the alarm clock's got to be ringing for us."
About a minute later, the Skipjacks were down a man when defenseman Ken Sabourin left the ice for slashing. Forty seconds into the penalty, at 2:53, center Darryl Noren put a slap shot by Dafoe for a 4-2 New Haven lead.
That goal ended, however briefly, New Haven's recent futility with power plays. The Nighthawks had failed to convert 16 straight extra-man opportunities.
New Haven further padded its lead with a well-executed two-on-one break at 11:12. Scott Schneider fed left wing Kent Hulst, whose wrist shot went over Dafoe's shoulder to make it 5-2.
Anderson had the Nighthawks' first goal when he put a loose puck past Dafoe at 10:08 in the first period. Dafoe had made a sweeping save of Al Tuer's shot and was sprawled on the ice when Anderson took the rebound.
Just after the Skipjacks killed Sabourin's roughing penalty, a member of their own organization haunted them. Andrei Kovalev, an unsigned Washington Capitals draft pick spending this season with New Haven, scored at 14:59 to tie it, 2-2.
Initially, New Haven appeared to be flat. Only 56 seconds elapsed before left wing Steve Seftel poked in a rebound for his first goal of the season. At 5:39, winger Jeff Greenlaw slid a shot under the pads of goalie George Maneluk.
Maneluk had a personal four-game winning streak stopped Saturday in Springfield. He is 5-1-0 in his past six starts.