Penguins Drop Fifth Straight Game
WILKES-BARRE TWP. — The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins survived the penalty kill.
It was the 3-minute sequence immediately afterward that cost them on Sunday against the Providence Bruins.
With the game tied at 1 in the second period, Peter Cehlarik and Ryan Donato took advantage of two defensive breakdowns by the Penguins and scored 1:05 apart to spark the Bruins in a 4-2 victory at Mohegan Sun Arena. The loss was Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s fifth straight and dropped it to an even point percentage at 8-8-3-1.
Like on Saturday against Hershey, the Penguins played with jump in the third period and got within one on a late goal by Jarrett Burton. However, the damage had already been done one period earlier.
“We had a lapse there where we left the net front and they scored two goals,” head coach Clark Donatelli said. “I’m happy with the effort. I’m happy with the way the guys competed, but we made some timely mistakes. They made us pay for it.”
Shortly after Joseph Cramarossa served his two minutes for interference, the Penguins turned the puck over in their own zone to send Mark McNeill on a rush the other direction. The forward did a great job of fending off checks from Stefan Elliott, then found Cehlarik wide open for an easy goal at 11:55 after Wilkes-Barre/Scranton had vacated the slot.
Moments later, Ryan Fitzgerald used a nice spin pass to feed a cutting Donato — again, open in the slot — and leave Penguins goaltender Anthony Peters (15 saves on 18 shots) nearly defenseless.
“That’s hard to do back-to-back, but we did it and we paid for it and lost because of it,” Donatelli said. “It’s a game of mistakes, and we’ll learn from that.”
The Penguins made a point after Saturday’s loss to Hershey to skate with more effort, and they did — especially in the final 20 minutes.
But like he has so many times before, Providence goaltender Zane McIntyre shut the door with 32 saves and made key sliding stops on both Cramarossa and Sam Lafferty as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton tried to rally.
Burton’s goal with 4:04 left — scored as he was falling over backwards — gave them a chance to force overtime. In the first period, he took a high stick that cut open his lip and gave the Penguins an extended power play. Adam Johnson scored on the ensuing man-advantage.
Those effort and hustle plays are what the Penguins hope will start to go in their favor a little more often.
“The biggest thing to get out of this is just to make sure you just keep doing the little things and keep working hard each day,” Burton said. “Obviously, some tough bounces and some are little mistakes that we’re making. But if we continue to work hard, we believe that those bounces will start to go our way.”
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton also played with more discipline, only committing two minor penalties. Even so, Fitzgerald’s goal in the first period extended the team’s streak of games allowing a power-play goal to 12.
This isn’t completely uncharted territory for the Penguins.
They had no losing streaks of five or more games at any point last season, but they did go through a similar rough patch starting in mid-November. They lost five of six contests, then responded with points in four of their next five.
Forward Teddy Blueger said there was a lot they could build off Sunday, including good forechecking and improved defensive gaps. And when asked what the biggest key is to avoiding panic amid their recent slump, he responded with a simple formula.
“Probably winning,” Blueger said. “Just get back in the win column and take it one game at a time. We need to focus on (the game against Hershey) Wednesday.”
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