WILKES-BARRE TWP. – A sold out crowd made for crowded conditions at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Saturday, but the same couldn't be said of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins locker room.
Before their matchup against the Adirondack Phantoms, the Penguins lost forwards Beau Bennett and Jayson Megna along with defensemen Robert Bortuzzo and Brian Strait to Pittsburgh's training camp. They joined Eric Tangradi and Simon Despres, who left for Pittsburgh on Friday.
The Phantoms also felt the effects of the end of the lockout, losing top scorers Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier along with Zac Rinaldo, Tye McGinn and Eric Wellwood to Philadelphia.
With the changes, both lineups featured several new faces and players taking on new roles. That included Paul Thompson who scored on the power play and Brian Gibbons, who used his speed all night to create scoring chances and set up the game-winning goal as the Penguins won their second in a row, beating the Phantoms 2-1.
It's an opportunity for guys to make a statement, said head coach John Hynes regarding the absences left by the players who went to Pittsburgh. Right now there's a different mentality for a player when you realize there is no one else. The buck stops here. This is their team and they want to win.
The Penguins, winners of two straight, are now 17-17-2-1 on the season and, after winning just twice in 15 games they have won three out of their last five.
For the second night, the Penguins power play continued its resurgence from a dreaded 3-for-69 slump when Thompson put home his own rebound midway through the first period.
That gave the Penguins two power play goals in the last two games and, more importantly, a 1-0 lead.
Adirondack evened things up in the second period when Marcel Noebels backhanded home a rebound past Brad Thiessen.
During the last three minutes of the period, the Penguins came up big at both ends of the ice.
Gibbons started things off when he raced into the Adirondack end and held the puck at the corner. He waited while Bobby Farnham crashed the net and hit Brian Dumoulin in the high slot with a perfect pass. Dumoulin deposited the puck into the top corner for a 2-1 lead and his second goal in two games.
With time winding down, Adirondack pressured in the Penguins zone and fired away. Few of the shots reached the net, however, thanks to blocked shots by Joey Mormina, Riley Holzapfel and Paul Thompson.
Tonight the guys really sacrificed themselves to block shots, Hynes said. Those are big plays that need to be made, particularly in tight games.
Coming off a 1-0 shutout against Hershey the night before, Thiessen continued his strong play in net, stopping the first 14 shots he faced. He came up big during a Phantoms power play, making a stop on an Andrew Johnston chance at the corner. Seconds after the man advantage expired, Thiessen stopped Harry Zolnierczyk on a breakaway.
In his last five starts, Thiessen has allowed four goals on shots. He also has three wins in that span, including two shutouts.
He's made the stops that we need and when you win these tight games, there's also one or two that he has to come up big on, Hynes said. He's done that.
- Paul Crowder and Chris Barton were called up from Wheeling on Saturday and played against the Phantoms.
First Period Scoring – 1. WBS, Paul Thompson 11 (Smith, Dumoulin) power play 7:11. Penalties – ADK, Harper (tripping) 6:11; WBS, Dupuis (interference) 7:43; ADK, Dimmen (tripping) 11:42; ADK, Harper (slashing) 15:18.
Second Period Scoring – 2. ADK, Marcel Noebels 1 (Lauridsen, Bordson) 8:36. 3. WBS, Brian Dumoulin 4 (Gibbons, Uher) 17:42. Penalties – ADK, Slater (fighting) :01; WBS, Farnham (fighting) :01; WBS, Peters (slashing) 1:51; WBS, Holzapfel (roughing) 5:04; ADK, Harper (cross-checking) 11:06.
Third Period Scoring – None. Penalties – ADK, Bordson (holding) 11:17; ADK, Syvret (hooking) 13:12; WBS, Samuelsson (unsportsmanlike conduct) 13:12; WBS, Peters (holding) 19:43.
Shots on goal Adirondack – 8-9-6-23 Penguins – 8-7-9-24
Power-play Opportunities Adirondack – 0 of 3 Penguins – 1 of 5 Goaltenders Adirondack – Scott Munroe 9-9-0 (22 saves – 24 shots) Penguins – Brad Thiessen 6-7-1 (22-23)
Starters Adirondack – G Scott Munroe, D Danny Syvret, D Brandon Manning, LW Tyler Brown, C Ian Slater, RW Mike Testwuide Penguins – G Brad Thiessen, D Dylan Reese, D Brian Dumoulin, LW Riley Holzapfel, C Trevor Smith, RW Paul Thompson
Three Stars 1. WBS, Brian Dumoulin (game-winning goal) 2. WBS, Paul Thompson (goal) 3. Brad Thiessen (22 saves on 23 shots)