Penguins Solve Special Teams Woes, But It’s Not Enough For A Win
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins special teams rebounded in a big way on Saturday.
But it still wasn’t enough against an explosive Syracuse Crunch offense.
In a start-and-stop game that featured 18 combined power plays, the Penguins scored three times on the man-advantage and had 10 successful penalty kills. However, Ross Colton tied the game with 2:27 left, and Carter Verhaeghe scored in overtime to give the Crunch a 4-3 win at Oncenter War Memorial Arena.
The potential bigger loss for the Penguins was an injury to defenseman Ethan Prow, who left late in the first period after absorbing a blocked shot and did not return.
Tristan Jarry made 37 saves to help the Penguins earn a point despite all the trips to the sin bin.
It appeared special teams would decide the game, with Garrett Wilson, Anthony Angello and Jean-Sebastien Dea all scoring for the Penguins (15-12-4-1) on the power play. However, the Crunch broke through late at even strength.
Boris Katchouk had the highlight pass of the game, delivering a no-look assist from behind the Penguins net to set up Colton’s tying goal on the doorstep in the closing minutes.
Credit Crunch goaltender Eddie Pasquale as well for making two stellar post-to-post saves on Sam Lafferty and Adam Johnson in the third period that kept his team within one.
■ Jarry made a couple of huge saves at the end of the second period to help the Penguins hold the lead and was solid after an early blunder led to Syracuse’s goal one minute in. He was a deserving star at No. 3.
■ Rookie Colton also assisted a goal by Alex Barre-Boulet, giving him two points. He was the second star.
■ Verhaeghe was snakebitten all game, hitting the post on a couple occasions and running into Jarry the rest of regulation. However, his winner was enough to give him the game’s top honors.
Stat to know
Syracuse entered the game with the league’s top power-play units, and they remained the AHL’s best at 27.1 percent despite failing on 10 chances.
If Prow is out for any extended amount of time, it’s a huge setback for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The team’s likely all-star representative, he’s been responsible for a number of key goals and has significantly improved defensively this season. His health will be the important storyline out of the Christmas break.
The game itself was a mess, with the officials upstaging the players inside the faceoff circle and ruining the game’s flow with so many penalties. So, it’s hard to really judge either team’s performance.
However, the Penguins were ahead for much of the game’s second half and couldn’t take advantage. These lost points could very well haunt them when April arrives.
■ Forward Jarrett Burton was “dinged up,” according to the radio broadcast, and didn’t play. However, he was not listed as an official injury scratch.
■ Dea’s two-point game was already his third of the season.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton returns from the holiday break by hosting the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday.
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Penguins 1 2 0 0 — 3 Syracuse 1 1 1 1 — 4 First period: Scoring - 1, Syr, Raddysh, 1:01; 2, WBS, Wilson (Prow, Dea), 5:28 (PP). Penalties - Syr, Masin, interference 4:00; WBS, bench, delay of game (served by Hayes) 8:52; Syr, Colton, holding 12:24; WBS, Wilson, roughing (served by Hayes) and roughing 15:38; Syr, Andreoff, roughing 15:38; WBS, Cramarossa, tripping 19:48.
Second period: Scoring - 3, WBS, Angello, 11:58; 4, WBS, Dea (Wilson, Lafferty), 15:56 (PP); 5, Syr, Barre-Boulet (Conacher, Colton), 17:38 (PP). Penalties - WBS, Lafferty, slashing 5:03; WBS, Sexton, cross-checking 7:17; WBS, Dea, high-sticking 7:49; Syr, Colton, high-sticking 10:08; Syr, Gaunce, holding 11:58; WBS, Abt, fighting 15:06; Syr, Andreoff, fighting, instigating (served by Somppi) and 10-minute misconduct 15:06; WBS, Czuczman, roughing 16:24.
Third period: Scoring - 6, Syr, Colton (Katchouk, Foote), 17:33. Penalties - WBS, Cramarossa, slashing 1:29; Syr, Valleau, unsportsmanlike conduct (playing without helmet) 5:20; WBS, O’Neill, tripping 6:29; WBS, Dea, slashing 7:37; WBS, Czuczman, high-sticking 11:43; Syr, bench (too many men, served by Volkov) 14:31.
Overtime: Scoring - 7, Syr, Verhaeghe (Barre-Boulet, Gaunce), 1:19.
Shots on goal: WBS 9 6 8 0 - 23; Syr 12 18 10 1 - 41.
Goaltenders: WBS, Jarry (37 saves on 41 shots); Syr, Pasquale (20 saves on 23 shots).
Power-play opportunities: WBS 3 for 7; Syr 1 for 11.
Referees: Brandon Schrader and Jake Rekucki. Linesmen: Neil Frederickson and Tory Carissimo.