WILKES-BARRE TWP. – For the first two periods of Saturday’s contest between the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and St. John’s IceCaps, the former made a consistent march to the penalty box while the latter jumped out to a 1-0 lead.
But in the third period, the IceCaps took the penalties, and the Penguins scored the goals.
Five third-period goals, including two on the power play, propelled the Penguins to a 5-2 win, taking the second game of the home portion of the season series against the IceCaps.
While the Penguins scored goals, Eric Hartzell did a good job preventing them, stopping 29 of 31 shots in his first AHL start.
The win improves the Penguins to 12-4-0-2.
“It was fun. it was exciting,” Hartzell said about his team’s third period. “A great team win and it was fun to win the way we did in the third period.”
After spending much of the first two periods on the penalty kill and spotting St. John’s a 1-0 lead, the Penguins got back on the power play in the third period and finally found the back of the net.
Five minutes into the period, the Penguins power play set up shot in the St. John’s end. Dominik Uher ripped a shot from the right circle that was stopped by IceCaps goaltender Eddie Pasquale stopped but allowed a rebound out the corner where Tom Kostopoulos whacked the puck home on his third attempt to even the score 1-1.
Twenty nine seconds later, Bobby Farnham picked up the puck in the left circle, shot and immediately raced into the low slot to grab the rebound and shoot it into an open net before Eddie Pasquale could slide over.
The goal – Farnham’s first of the season, gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead with just under 15 minutes to play.
“Any goal we got at that point gave us momentum,” said head coach John Hynes. “The fact that we got two quick ones right away gave us momentum.”
The IceCaps put themselves in more penalty trouble when winger J.C. Lipon was given a match penalty after he checked Tom Kuhnhackl in the head. That gave the Penguins five minutes of power play time, and while they didn’t score it silenced St. John’s offensive attack for a large chunk of time.
Still, they weren’t finished yet.
The Penguins got back into the penalty box late in the period and St. John’s scored their second power play of the night to even things up, 2-2.
After that, the Penguins offense took over with the game-winner by Andrew Ebbett – on the power play of course,to make it 3-2 followed by a Zach Sill tally 17 seconds later and an empty netter by Jayson Megna to seal the win.
The IceCaps power play tallies were the only blemishes on the night for Hartzell, who bailed the Penguins out on numerous penalty kill situations. In the first period he stopped a point blank shot from Zach Redmond in front and a subsequent blast from Redmond again to stave off an IceCaps power play.
In the second period, with Nick D’Agostino receiving a double minor for high-sticking, Hartzell made a half-dozen saves to keep the IceCaps off the board.
“It’s mentally challenging to have to kill that many penalties,” Hynes said. “You can’t get into your game and create a lot of offense when you’re killing that many penalties. Once we got out of that, we were able to make a push.”
And Hynes credited his penalty killers, anchored by Hartzell, for guiding the Penguins through the penalty mess.
Hartzell, who started the season in Wheeling, said he didn’t feel any rust or any nerves in making his first AHL start.
“I think the coaches made a great decision sending me down to Wheeling to get some game time,” Hartzell said. “That’s pro hockey to and you see a lot of action down there. It got the rust of my wheels a bit and made my transition a lot easier.”
• D Peter Merth (injury), D Reid McNeill, C Nick Drazenovic (injury), LW Cody Sylvester, D Dustin Stevenson, RW Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond (injury) and C Denver Manderson were scratched for the Penguins.
Penguins 5, St. John’s 2
Scoring – None. Penalties – WBS, Conner (hooking) 4:20; STJ, Lipon (fighting) 9:22; WBS, Uher (fighting) 9:22; WBS, Harrington (high-sticking) 10:10; WBS, Despres (cross-checking) 12:35; STJ, Redmond (hooking) 13:46; STJ, Fredheim (roughing) 16:15; WBS, Kostopoulos (roughing) 16:15.
Scoring – 1. STJ, Eric O’Dell 8 (Kichton, Mouillierat) power play 10:08. Penalties – WBS, D’Agostino (high-sticking – double minor) 2:21; STJ, Riley (goaltender interference) 7:57; WBS, Despres (slashing) 9:44; STJ, MacKinnon (holding) 10:39; WBS, Samuelsson (cross-checking) 17:24.
Scoring – 2. WBS, Tom Kostopoulos 7 (Uher, Mikkelson) power play 5:20. 3. WBS, Bobby Farnham 1 (D’Agostino, Payerl) 5:49. 4. STJ, Eric O’Dell 9 (Klingberg, Kichton) power play 13:57. 5. WBS, Andrew Ebbett 6 (Mikkelson, Kostopoulos) power play 16:37. 6. WBS, Zach Sill 2 (Payerl) 16:54. 7. WBS, Jayson Megna 7 (Farnham, Dumoulin) empty net 18:43. Penalties – STJ, Cormier (tripping) 5:02; STJ, Lipon (check to the head – match) 7:25; STJ, Lipon (fighting) 7:25; WBS, D’Agostino (fighting) 7:25; WBS, Sill (tripping) 13:03; STJ, Fredheim (delay of game) 16:19; STJ, Cormier (high-sticking, roughing - double minor) 20:00.
Shots on goal
St. John’s – 12-14-5-31
Penguins – 3-6-10-19
St. John’s – 2 of 8
Penguins – 2 of 5
St. John’s – Eddie Pasquale – 8-7-1 (14 saves - 19 shots)
Penguins – Eric Hartzell – 1-0-0 (29-31)
St. John’s – D Jordan Hill, D Cody Lampl, LW Jerome Samson, C Kyle MacKinnon, RW Blair Riley
Penguins – D Scott Harrington, D Brian Dumoulin, LW Bobby Farnham, C Zach Sill, RW Adam Payerl
1. WBS, Eric Hartzell (29 saves) 2. WBS, Bobby Farnham (goal) 3. WBS, Tom Kostopoulos (goal, assist)
Referee – Jon MacIsaac, T.J. Foster. Linesmen – Matt McNulty, Luke Murray
Attendance – 5,102