Penguins Top Rival Phantoms On Teddy Bear Toss Night
WILKES-BARRE TWP. — Through the first 20 minutes of Saturday’s game, Lehigh Valley goaltender Carter Hart bested the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ heart.
The second period was a lot different.
Teddy Blueger had a tying shorthanded goal, and Ryan Haggerty beat Hart twice en route to a hat trick as the Penguins took the lead and held on for a 5-2 win over the Phantoms at Mohegan Sun Arena. Sam Lafferty added another shorthanded goal late in the third for insurance, as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton won its fifth straight and improved to 14-10-3-1.
The Penguins penalty kill, which has struggled throughout the season, made four successful stops in the final period and six total.
“The kill did a really good job,” head coach Clark Donatelli said. “We made it hard on ourselves, but it’s a great win for us. Guys are pumped up, a lot of controlled emotion out there.”
The middle frame was one of the most eventful of the season, with the teams packing in five goals, a huge brawl that led to a pair of ejections and the Penguins’ annual Teddy Bear Toss for charity.
After Philip Samuelsson gave the Phantoms a 1-0 lead at 1:57, Blueger broke free on the penalty kill and completely fooled Hart with a deke to the left that sent an avalanche of stuffed animals onto the ice.
Haggerty kept the crowd energized by stealing a puck from Zach Palmquist and finishing a 2-on-0 rush with Adam Johnson at 10:32. He later shoveled in a loose rebound in front of Hart for his third goal of the season.
With all the bears having been picked up, players were littered all over the ice soon after as Lafferty’s scuffle with Phantoms defenseman T.J. Brennan devolved into complete chaos.
Lafferty ended up duking it out with Mark Friedman, and Will O’Neill and Taylor Leier, who scrapped in the final minute of the teams’ last game, were both thrown out for their secondary fight.
“I came in the locker room and guys were all fired up,” said Lafferty, who picked up his first professional fighting major. “I thought it was for me, but it was for Will.
″(My fight) just kind of happened. I really wasn’t thinking much. I thought (Brennan) kind of made a dirty play, and it was going back to the first period. He didn’t want it, so Friedman came in.”
Mike Vecchione capitalized on the change in tone and scored to bring Lehigh Valley within 3-2, but that was as close as the game would get. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton came out with plenty of heart during the first period, but the Phantoms countered with plenty of Hart.
The former second-round pick withstood two power plays and a barrage of scoring chances to make 13 saves and keep the teams even.
Tristan Jarry was just as good at times, saving some of his best work for the third period. He stopped Greg Carey twice after a boarding penalty put the Penguins a man down. Shortly after as another penalty expired, he stood in the path of Vecchione’s chance right in front.
Jarry made 29 saves in total for his second win since rejoining the team from Pittsburgh in the middle of last week.
Lafferty sent a shot off the post and in on the Penguins’ final kill, and Haggerty finished off his hat trick with the net empty in the final minute.
But not without one final anxious moment.
“The puck was rolling and I was like ‘Oh, no,’” Haggerty said. “I knew no one was behind me, so I just wanted to bring it all the way in and leave nothing to chance.”
This is the second straight season Haggerty has scored a hat trick during the team’s Fathers Trip weekend.
With the victory, the Penguins temporarily jumped back into a playoff spot. However, they are sandwiched between Lehigh Valley and Springfield, who both have two games in hand. Contact the writer: email@example.com; 570-821-2089; @CVPiccotti on Twitter