SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Veteran goalie Tomas Vokoun came down to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins this week to get some work.
He hardly could have squeezed in more work than he got Friday.
The Syracuse Crunch pushed Vokoun to overtime and then a shootout, but the extra sweat was worth the effort as the Penguins escaped with a 3-2 win at the Onondaga County War Memorial.
Vokoun, on a conditioning stint while recovering from a blood clot that kept him grounded this season, made 23 saves and then denied all four Syracuse shooters in a tiebreaker won by the Penguins 2-0.
“I wouldn’t mind winning in regulation,’’ Vokoun said. “I played one game in almost 11 months. Any time I’m out there playing, I’m happy. When you don’t play games, hockey is not fun.’’
Streaking Chuck Kobasew scored both Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goals in regulation. The Pens fell short of clinching an AHL playoff spot, however, because both Hershey and Norfolk picked up points with overtime losses.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton needs just one more point to punch its postseason ticket. The Penguins host Binghamton today.
Anton Zlobin tallied in the opening round of the shootout while Spencer Machacek clinched the win by beating Crunch netminder Cedrick Desjardins in the top of the fifth.
Vokoun stopped Syracuse shooters Brett Connolly, Henri Ikonen, Jonathan Marchessault and Adam Erne.
“He looked pretty good. He made good saves all three periods. In the shootout, he knew what he was doing, where the guys were going to go,’’ Marchessault said.
“Physically, I feel good,’’ Vokoun said. “Hopefully, all those (health) issues have been addressed and resolved. I didn’t feel great playing-wise, but that’s a whole-other story. You’re not as confident as you would normally be. As the game went on, I felt a little bit better.’’
All four regulation goals were notched on the power play.
Kobasew potted his second goal of the night for the only tally of the middle period. As the Penguins skated a man up, he batted a rebound from the left side of the crease past Desjardins to tie the game at 2 with 12:32 remaining.
Kobasew now has 10 goals in 11 games since Pittsburgh sent him down at the trade deadline.
“I’ve been given a great opportunity by the coaching staff, playing a lot of minutes, a lot of situations. It’s fun,’’ he said. “I looked at it as an opportunity for me to come down and get my game back.’’
Specialty teams took center stage in a first-period that featured three power-play tallies.
Syracuse’s Jon DiSalvatore had the last laugh with 3:51 left in the period, zipping through the slot and tipping in a shot by Marchessault for a 2-1 Syracuse lead.
Vokoun said the power-play parade made it tough to find a rhythm, but game action of any kind is helpful to him now.
“That’s why they (Pittsburgh) sent me to play,’’ Vokoun said. “I could practice all day long for five months. You are never going to get that kind of situation in practice.’’
The Crunch’s Vladdy Namestnikov tied the game with 11:42 remaining in the opening period. His hard bid from the right circle, just the second shot of the game by Syracuse, found space between Vokoun’s legs.
Kobasew got the Pens out of the blocks at the 4:46 mark. His shot from the left circle beat Desjardins’ low glove side.
Penguins 3, Syracuse 2
First Period — 1, Penguins, Kobasew 9 (Ebbett, Dumoulin), 4:46 (PP). 2, Syracuse, Namestnikov 19 (Korobov, Connolly), 8:18 (PP). 3, Syracuse, DiSalvatore 11 (Marchessault, Mormina), 16:09 (PP). Penalties-Gourde Syr (hooking), 3:08; Cote Syr (tripping), 5:11; Payerl WBS (goaltender interference), 6:44; Labrie Syr (interference), 10:00; Rowney WBS (slashing), 14:31; Farnham WBS (diving/embellishment), 18:59; Witkowski Syr (cross-checking), 18:59.
Second Period — 4, Penguins, Kobasew 10 (Machacek, Dumoulin), 7:28 (PP). Penalties-Korobov Syr (holding), 3:55; served by Paradis Syr (bench minor - too many men), 6:21; Namestnikov Syr (cross-checking), 11:37; Angelidis Syr (tripping), 13:39.
Third Period — No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties
Overtime — No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties
Shootout — Penguins 2 (Zlobin G, Kobasew NG, Drazenovic NG, Ebbett NG, Machacek G), Syracuse 0 (Connolly NG, Ikonen NG, Marchessault NG, Erne NG).
Shots on Goal — Penguins 8-10-10-3-1-32; Syracuse 12-4-4-5-0-25.
Power Play Opportunities — Penguins 2-7; Syracuse 2-2.
Goalies — Penguins, Vokoun 1-0-0 (25 shots-23 saves); Syracuse, Desjardins 7-17-3 (31 shots-29 saves).
Referees — Trevor Hanson, Jean-Philippe Sylvain. Linesmen — John Everett, Francis Trempe.
A — 4,789