For a team that has allowed the fewest goals in the AHL, holding the league’s number one offense to a single tally is still quite a feat.
It’s an accomplishment that should produce two points, but for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Wednesday’s stellar defensive effort against the Syracuse Crunch was spoiled in a 1-0 defeat.
The team held off-ice workouts on Thursday at Coal Street as they readjust to being back home after concluding a seven-game road trip that began on March 8.The players are happy to be back, but Wednesday’s loss did dampen the atmosphere a bit.
The defeat marked the seventh time the Penguins have been shutout this season - including three to Syracuse, as an inconsistent offense wasted a solid defensive effort led by goaltender Jeff Zatkoff, who has suffered a loss in eight games where he has allowed 2 goals or less this season.
“We’ve done that a lot,” said forward Trevor Smith of not being able to capitalize on a solid defensive effort. “Our goaltenders have been great for us, and it comes down to putting pucks in the net. When you’re losing games 1-0, you have to do a better job for your goaltender, and that comes down to putting pucks in the net.”
And working hard for a full 60 minutes without any lapses.
Head coach John Hynes said that’s what did his team in against the Crunch on Wednesday - specifically a poor start that lasted all through the first period and into the opening stages of the second.
“It was a tale of two games. We didn’t have a good start and left the game out there a bit. In the second half we had as many or more opportunities to score but the puck didn’t go in,” Hynes said. “We need to play 60 minutes this time of year for our group to be successful. We didn’t play a thorough enough game.”
• Chad Kolarik didn’t play in Wednesday’s game and Hynes said the high-scoring winger is day-to-day but won’t be out long-term. When Kolarik will return, however, is still up in the air. Hynes said he might practice today, but that won’t have any bearing on when he’ll return to the lineup. “It’s just if we feel it’s the right time for him to get back in and play,” Hynes said.
• The Penguins welcomed their first ATO of the season when they signed OHL defenseman Clark Seymour to an amateur tryout agreement on Thursday. Seymour, 19, appeared in 62 games this season for the Peterborough Petes and posted three goals, 10 assists and 61 penalty minutes. He was a fifth-round pick (143rd overall) of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Hynes said Seymour won’t see game action but will benefit from the experience, like other ATOs who will join the team.
“They see things firsthand. We have them involved in our meetings, practices and they’re on the bus,” Hynes said. “They get a good feel of what it’s like to play here and they create relationships with the players and coaches. That makes for an easier transition when they come and it’s a benefit for their comfort level.”