WILKES-BARRE TWP. – In three games against Norfolk Admirals’ goaltender John Gibson this season, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have only managed a goal in each.
Friday’s contest made it four.
A goal from rookie defenseman Reid McNeill was all the Penguins could muster on the 26 shots they threw at Gibson. Norfolk scored twice in the first period and that was all they needed to beat the Penguins, 2-1 and move within two points of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for second place in the East Division.
Against Norfolk this season, the Penguins are now 1-4 and have scored just one regulation goal in each contest. Against Gibson, they are 0-4, and Norfolk’s rookie goaltender has a 1.00 goals against average and a .960 save percentage against the Penguins.
“They’re goalie played well again,” said Penguin winger Denver Manderson, who had an assist for his second point in two games. “He seems to have our number a little bit.”
The Penguins did have an opportunity to gain an early lead when Nofolk’s Steve Eminger was given a double minor for high-sticking, but it was the Admirals who took advantage of the situation. During a four-minute power play, Brian Dumoulin fell while he manned the point and was unable to keep the puck away from Norfolk’s Maxime Sauve, who picked it up and raced down to beat Eric Hartzell for a shorthanded tally.
The fact that the Penguins didn’t score on the four-minute power play and yielded a shorthanded goal to Norfolk had an little bit of an impact on the game, according to head coach John Hynes.
“It wasn’t the complete difference in the game, but it was a segment in the game that took some momentum away from us and gave them momentum,” he said.
The Penguins had a better second period, getting on the board with a point shot from McNeill to make it 2-1. The goal was the first of McNeill’s AHL career.
McNeill faced Gibson when the two played junior hockey in the Ontario Hockey League and he wasn’t surprised by the netminder’s success.
“He was a solid goaltender in junior and nothing’s really changed,” McNeill said. “You have to give him credit, but on the other side of things we have to find a better way to get it by him - screens, tips, rebounds, crashing the net. We have to do a better job.”
The Penguins gained momentum during the middle of the period when a pair of penalties gave Norfolk a two-man advantage for 1:58. The Admirals managed just two shots as the Penguins penalty kill limited any chances.
“There were momentum swings in this game,” Hynes said. “The difference when they had it in the first period they got two and we only got one.”
Hynes added that the Penguins did have opportunities to score on the night, including five power play chances that weren’t converted.
The Penguins have now failed to score a goal in their last 29 power play chances over the last six games.
“It’s a little bit of a down point for us,” Manderson said. “A power play goal here or there can go a long way. The most important thing is to keep our confidence and sooner or later it will go in.”
- C Zach Sill (injury), C Zack Torquato, C Adam Payerl (injury) and D Barry Goers were scratched for the Penguins.
- D Brian Dumoulin left the game early in the second period after crashing into the boards. Dumoulin was favoring his left leg as he had to be helped off the ice. Hynes didn’t have an update on Dumoulin’s condition after the game.
Norfolk 2 Penguins 1
Scoring – 1. NOR, Maxime Sauve 6 unassisted, shorthanded 6:24. 2. NOR, Charles Sarault 6 (Smith-Pelly, Blacker) 11:27. Penalties – NOR, Eminger )high-sticking double-minor) 4:25; NOR, Stortini (kneeing) 16:52; WBS, Mikkelson (slashing) 16:52; WBS, Samuelsson (goaltender interference) 17:27; NOR, Sauve (goaltender interference) 18:55.
Scoring – 3. WBS, Reid McNeill 1 (Manderson, Mikkelson) 3:52. Penalties – NOR, Wagner (roughing) 4:35; WBS, Despres (roughing) 4:35; NOR, Laganiere (hooking) 5:38; WBS, Despres (hooking) 9:31; WBS, Manderson (delay of game – faceoff violation) 9:33.
Scoring – None. Penalties – NOR, Ezekiel (boarding) 1:49; WBS, bench-served by Leblond (too many men) 7:31.
Shots on goal: Norfolk, 7-4-7-18; Penguins, 7-9-10-26. Power-play Opportunities: Norfolk, 0-4; Penguins, 0-5. Goaltenders: Norfolk, John Gibson 14-9-4 (25 saves, 26 shots); Penguins, Eric Hartzell 9-4-1 (16 saves, 18 shots).
Starters: Norfolk – G John Gibson, D Nolan Yonkman, D Steve Eminger, LW Devante Smith-Pelly, C Charles Sarault, RW Emerson Etem; Penguins – G Eric Hartzell, D Philip Samuelsson, D Simon Despres, LW Harry Zolnierczyk, C Nick Drazenovic, RW Dominik Uher.
1. NOR, John Gibson (one goal allowed) 2. NOR, Maxime Sauve (shorthanded goal) 3. WBS, Reid McNeill (goal)
Referee – Terry Koharski, Ryan Murphy. Linesmen – Leo Boylan, Bob Fyrer
Attendance – 5,117