Pens Shut Out Binghamton
WILKES-BARRE TWP. — The performance wasn’t quite as dominant as the score would indicate.
However, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins took an early lead and then took care of business against the league’s worst team.
Chris Summers put the Penguins on the board early, Sam Lafferty added a goal and an assist, and John Muse made 33 saves for his second shutout of the season in a 4-0 win over the Binghamton Devils at Mohegan Sun Arena. Binghamton has still never beaten Wilkes-Barre/Scranton since becoming the Devils, dropping to 0 for 9.
“I thought we had a good start; we came out and got the lead,” Penguins head coach Clark Donatelli said. “Special teams, I thought we were pretty disciplined and I thought we controlled most of the play.”
Unfortunately, the Penguins (35-26-7-3) didn’t get the help they needed from the Providence Bruins in the playoff chase. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton remained three points out of the final Atlantic Division playoff spot as the Bruins beat Bridgeport, 8-6.
In terms of what it could control, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was effective all night. Muse said the defense did a great job of limiting Binghamton’s chances, even in the third as the Devils continued to battle down 2-0.
The few good chances they did get, Muse denied. The goaltender made a nice stop on John Ramage’s shot from the low slot in the second frame and another on Blake Pietila soon after. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton also killed off its only two penalties.
Muse lowered his goals-against average to a stellar 1.99 despite appearing in only four AHL games since the start of February.
“I always have confidence in myself, regarding if I’m playing once a month or twice a week,” Muse said. “It was good to get in there and get a game and help the team win.”
The only element that wasn’t working for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was its power play, which went scoreless on its first six chances. That included a roughly three-minute stretch of 5-on-3 time in the first period after a pair of Binghamton (26-39-6-0) high-sticking infractions.
However, Joseph Blandisi finally broke the drought late in the third when he beat netminder Evan Cormier over his right shoulder. Adam Johnson, who was reassigned from Pittsburgh earlier in the day, provided an assist.
Cormier helped keep the Devils in contention early, stopping a Ryan Haggerty one-timer on the two-man advantage and 12 shots total as the Penguins buzzed. The only one to beat him was Chris Summers, who joined a rush by Lafferty and shoveled in a loose puck at 4:47 for his second goal of the season.
Lafferty gave the Penguins breathing room in the second off a nice one-time pass from behind the red line by Ethan Prow. Rookie Brandon Hawkins, making his first AHL start on a line with Blandisi and Joseph Cramarossa, added an empty-net tally.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has now won five of its last six games and will return to the site where it started that hot streak: the PPL Center in Allentown. With the Lehigh Valley Phantoms also in desperation mode, the Penguins are focused on putting together full 60-minute efforts tonight and Sunday.
“We’re really excited for (tonight),” Lafferty said. “We know it’s going to be a great atmosphere, and those games are always heated. So, we’re excited.”
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