Last updated: January 08. 2014 3:28PM - 2834 Views
By - tvenesky@timesleader.com

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Syracuse Crunch (14-14-2-3, 33 points, 5th place in the East Division) at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (20-10-1-3, 44 points, 2nd place in the East Division)

Tonight, 7:05 p.m. at the Mohegan Sun Arena

Listen live on The Sports Hub, 102.3 FM

Players to watch:

Syracuse - Defenseman Matt Taormina has three goals on the season, and two of them have come against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Penguins - Whoever starts in net tonight. Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers is 4-0-1 against the Crunch with a 2.06 GAA and a .922 save percentage. Rookie Eric Hartzell was pulled after allowing two goals in his only start against the Crunch. On Sunday he held Binghamton’s potent offense to just one goal.

In five games against the Syracuse Crunch this season, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ top line of Harry Zolnierczyk-Nick Drazenovic-Tom Kostopoulos have combined to scored eight goals and 14 points.

Not counting those players who are injured or called up to Pittsburgh, the rest of the Penguins forwards have scored five goals and nine points.

When the Penguins face a Crunch team tonight that has allowed a lofty 103 goals in the season, it’s a prime opportunity to get a boost in secondary scoring from the second, third and fourth lines. They got it during Sunday’s win over Binghamton with goals by Anton Zlobin and Zack Torquato, and it’s something the Penguins hope will carry over to tonight.

“It’s huge for our team to get that secondary scoring,” said winger Paul Thompson, who set up Zlobin’s goal on Sunday. “We know we can rely on our top line to produce, but we need more than that.”

Still, head coach John Hynes said there is one element more important that the players on the second through fourth lines showing up on the scoreboard.

It all boils down to simply playing the right way.

“When that happens, for the guys who are supposed to score it’s easier on them,” Hynes said. “It’s always easier when you get contributions from everybody, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be on the scoreboard.”

Against Syracuse this season the Penguins are 4-0-0-1, which matches their success against other division rivals Hershey and Binghamton. They have scored 20 goals in five games against the Crunch and the only loss came in a shootout.

“We play them all so often and they’re all close to us, so it’s a rivalry every time we play them,” Thompson said. “It gets you a little extra amped up.”

And if that extra adrenaline leads to a bit of secondary scoring, all the better.

“It’s huge to have so much depth and that secondary scoring,” Drazenovic said, adding that as the first line center he doesn’t mind the pressure to put up points.

“It’s fun to have that pressure and do what we can to help the team win. Harry and Tom are NHL-caliber players and to center them is a lot of fun for me.”


• Former assistant equipment manager Josh Richards, who now holds the same position with the Dallas Stars in the NHL, visited the locker room after Tuesday’s practice. Richards is in town while his NHL team is on the road.

• Bobby Farnham, who has been out with an injury, practiced in full on Tuesday.

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