All season Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins head coach John Hynes has preached the importance of having a good start. He praised his team when they came out firing on all cylinders, and he didn’t hesitate to be critical when they didn’t.
Wednesday’s 4-2 win over Binghamton was achieved thanks to a good start — three first-period goals.
Tonight, when the Penguins host the Providence Bruins, they face another challenge: achieving a good start on a consistent basis.
“We have to do it every first period. It’s crunch time for us to keep a playoff spot,” center Trevor Smith said. “First periods, first shifts or the first five minutes — whatever you want to call it, it’s about gaining momentum early.”
Wednesday’s win marked the fourth time in the last 10 games that the Penguins — who have the lowest scoring offense in the Eastern Conference, scored four goals or more. It was also the first time in a little over two months that they scored three times in the opening period.
So is the offense back on track?
“It’s not so much about it being back on track, it’s that we really came out with the right mindset and played the way we want to play,” Hynes said. “Our game was on track, and that created better offense.”
• Pittsburgh recalled G Jeff Zatkoff after he stopped 28 of 30 shots on Wednesday. Zatkoff backed up Tomas Vokoun against Winnipeg on Thursday. After spending four seasons with the Los Angeles organization, the call-up was the first of Zatkoff’s career.
“It’s special for him and well-deserved,” Hynes said. “That’s one of the reasons why he came here.”
Scott Darling was recalled from Wheeling later in the day on Thursday to fill Zatkoff’s spot in Wilkes-Barre.
• With the trade deadline approaching April 3, and Pittsburgh already pulling off three major moves, Hynes wouldn’t rule out the possibility of more changes impacting the AHL roster. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have lost one player — D Joseph Morrow, in trades this season.
“There’s always the possibility and nothing is set for sure until the deadline passes next week,” Hynes said. “At this point, you just focus on what you have.”
• Pittsburgh reassigned Beau Bennett to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Thursday.