Pens Lose Early Lead To Toronto
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have shown a tendency to let one mistake snowball into a debilitating sequence of errors this season.
It happened again on Saturday against the Toronto Marlies.
The Penguins jumped out to a two-goal lead in the first 3:09, but proceeded to parade to the penalty box and give the Marlies three straight power-play goals in an eventual 7-4 loss to the defending champs. Two of those goals, by Chris Mueller and Trevor Moore, were under 5-on-3 conditions.
Goaltender Anthony Peters made 24 saves but was frequently defenseless as the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (9-10-3-1) special teams continued to be a liability.
The turning point
After Scott Wedgewood shut them out Friday in Rochester, the Penguins came out flying and wasted no time scoring. Adam Johnson beat goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo only 51 seconds in, and Troy Josephs set up Anthony Angello for a breakaway goal shortly after.
But Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe had seen enough and called timeout. Whatever he said to his players worked.
Tim Erixon, Chris Summers and Jean-Sebastien Dea all committed penalties in a span of 1:20. Toronto’s power-play picked apart the Penguins with all the open ice, as Mueller, Moore and Pierre Engvall completely took momentum away.
The Penguins scored twice in the closing minutes, but it was much too late.
■ Josh Jooris, who joined the Penguins midway through last season, had a goal and assist. He was the third star.
■ Mueller had four points, including three assists, giving him 21 this season. He was star No. 2.
■ Jeremy Bracco helped the Marlies pull away in periods two and three, scoring twice to add to his two assists. The forward received top honors.
Stat to know
The Penguins’ penalty-kill rate fell to 73.5 percent after they went only 1 for 4. No team in the AHL has had a mark that low since Rockford in 2013-14.
It’s time to consider a major overhaul for the penalty kill, whether that be schematically or with personnel. The Penguins are way too passive, and the Marlies made scoring three goals look much easier than it should be.
On a larger scale, there is no reason for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to crumble like it did after taking the early lead. Saturday was Game 23, and the rookies have been playing enough that inexperience shouldn’t be an issue. The team needs to find a way to hold onto momentum during games, or it will be stuck out of the playoff chase. Plain and simple.
■ Goaltender John Muse was healthy but not available for the game, according to the radio broadcast. As a result, the Penguins signed Evan Cormier to an amateur tryout agreement, The 21-year-old served as the emergency backup to Peters.
■ Forward Sam Miletic is considered day to day with an upper-body injury after leaving Friday’s loss.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton begins a two-game homestand at Mohegan Sun Arena at 7:05 p.m. Friday against the Cleveland Monsters.
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Penguins 2 0 2 — 4
Toronto 3 1 3 — 7
First period: Scoring - 1, WBS, Johnson (Dea), 0:51; 2, WBS, Angello (Josephs), 3:09; 3, Tor, Mueller (Bracco, Timashov), 5:50 (PP); 4, Tor, Moore (Bracco, Timashov), 6:56 (PP); 5, Tor, Engvall (Jooris, Marchment), 7:21 (PP). Penalties - WBS, Angello, high-sticking 0:25; Tor, Sandin, hooking 0:25; WBS, Erixon, holding the stick 4:42; WBS, Summers, tripping 5:40; WBS, Dea, tripping 6:02.
Second period: Scoring - 6, Tor, Bracco (Mueller, Sandin), 10:26. Penalties - Tor, Sandin, slashing 14:41; Tor, Borgman, interference 19:33.
Third period: Scoring - 7, Tor, Jooris (Rosen, Greening), 0:16 (SH); 8, Tor, Bracco (Mueller), 7:28; 9, WBS, Prow (Dea, Blueger), 10:34 (PP); 10, WBS, Olund (Elliott, Cramarossa), 14:04; 11, Tor, Klimchuk (Greening, Mueller), 19:14 (EN). Penalties - WBS, Abt, interference 1:51; Tor, Timashov, holding 10:11.
Shots on goal: WBS 11 9 20 - 40; Tor 14 7 10 - 31.
Goaltenders: WBS, Peters (24 saves on 30 shots); Tor, Kaskisuo (36 saves on 40 shots).
Power-play opportunities: WBS 1 for 3; Tor 3 for 4.
Referees: Mike Campbell and Olivier Gouin. Linesmen: Matt Mannella and Jean Menard.