ALLENTOWN — For the third time in their last four games, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins surrendered a short-handed goal.
And for the first time since last week’s shakeup in the cage, the Penguins were forced to pull a starting goaltender.
Corban Knight had a goal and an assist Wednesday and Tyrell Gill sent Anthony Peters to an early shower by scoring a man short as Lehigh Valley leveled the Penguins, 5-0, at the PP&L Center.
“We’re going to have to regroup,” Penguins coach Clark Donatelli sighed.
It was the third straight loss for the Penguins and their third in four games since regular Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goalie Casey DeSmith was promoted to parent Pittsburgh last week when Matt Murray was placed on injured reserve with a lower body injury.
The Phantoms wasted little time in exploiting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s goalie situation, peppering Peters with three goals in the first 18 minutes.
Mikhal Vorobyev, Corban Knight and Oskar Lindblom all rifled home shots within a six-minute span, staking Lehigh Valley to a 3-0 lead.
“I thought we had a good start,” said Donatelli, whose team played the Phantoms even for the first 12 minutes. “Then we took a penalty, and momentum changed.”
Pretty soon, the Penguins were making a change themselves.
Tyrell Goulbourne roared down the ice with the puck on his stick and stuck Lehigh Valley’s fourth goal just 3:28 into the second period, putting the Penguins in a 4-0 hole and sending Peters to the bench with 15 stops on 19 shots. Sean Maguire, recently promoted from Wheeling, of the ECHL, replaced him for the game’s final 36 minutes.
“Trying to get a spark after the fourth goal, and Mags hasn’t played,” Donatelli said of the change.
That Goulbourne goal came in the midst of one of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s five fruitless power plays, which is becoming a disturbing trend that’s been occurring with stunning regularity over the past week.
“It’s an issue,” Donatelli said. “When you’ve got one guy back there and get a bouncing puck, you have to handle it. We’re going to re-visit that and get that done on special teams.”
At least the replacement goalie got some things done.
Maguire, a fourth-round draft pick of the Penguins in 2012, settled things a bit by turning away 15 of the 16 shots against him through most of the final two periods. He allowed Matt Reed’s rebound goal with 6:24 to play, but by then, the suspense was pretty much over.
“I thought that was one of the bright spots in this, Mags played really well,” Donatelli said.
The other goalie, though, was playing even better.
Former NHLer Dustin Tokarski stopped a whopping 39 shots in the crease to earn the shutout, sending the Penguins to another night of frustration with another loss.
“He played well,” Donatelli said. “I remember him from Montreal. He’s a good goal tender. He had a big night here tonight.
“But we’ve got to find ways.”