WILKES-BARRE TWP. ‚?? If the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins started Saturday‚??s game how they finished it, perhaps the outcome would‚??ve been different.
Instead, a sluggish first period put the Penguins in a 2-0 hole and paved the way for a 3-2 loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the home opener.
The Penguins are still searching for their first win of the season, but despite an 0-3 start they aren‚??t panicking.
‚??We had high expectations and it‚??s definitely not somewhere we want to be,‚?Ě said winger Eric Tangradi. ‚??But we‚??re not ready to go up in flames worrying about it. When we play a certain way, we‚??re a dominant team.‚?Ě
So far, the trouble has been playing that way for a full 60 minutes.
Coming off a 4-2 loss in Springfield on Friday, the Penguins hoped to rebound with a good start against Bridgeport.
But the Sound Tigers connected twice in the opening period to put the Penguins in a 2-0 hole. Although both goals were scored at even strength, penalty trouble forced the Penguins to kill off three power plays, making it difficult to generate any momentum.
‚??We got off to a good start and then had some penalty trouble,‚?Ě said head coach John Hynes. ‚??We lost a little bit of momentum right off that bat.‚?Ě
The Penguins ramped up the offense in the second period, outshooting Bridgeport 13-5. Riley Holzapfel got them on the board at 7:48 when he put home a rebound from a Paul Thompson shot to make it 2-1.
Bridgeport connected again late in the period to make it 3-1 setting up a crucial third period for the Penguins.
Tangradi made things interesting late in the third period. Simon Despres sent in a shot from the high slot. Bridgeport goaltender Kevin Poulin made the initial save but allowed a rebound to the side of the crease. As Poulin dove for the puck, Tangradi lifted a backhand shot into the net to make it 3-2 with four minutes to play.
The momentum from Tangradi‚??s goal built after Brad Thiessen stopped Bridgeport‚??s Nino Niederreiter on a penalty shot with less than four minutes to play.
On the ensuing shift, former Penguin Colin McDonald was whistled for a trip on Beau Bennett, giving the Penguins a power play with three minutes left.
The man advantage produced several good opportunities, particularly from Bennett who was posted in the left faceoff circle, but Poulin denied them all to allow Bridgeport to cling to its one-goal lead.
Tangradi liked what the team did late, and felt things will turn around as they put the pieces together.
‚??The system we play is very demanding, we have a lot of new faces, more than we ever had in the past,‚?Ě he said. ‚??The way we play takes some time. To have a three-in-three in the second week of the season, it is tough. But it‚??s no excuse. We have to be ready to execute.‚?Ě
The Penguins will have a chance to regroup when they host Syracuse today at 5:05 pm.
‚?Ę C Zach Sill didn‚??t dress for Saturday‚??s contest and will be out five to six weeks with an upper body injury. D Alex Grant also sat out. C Dominik Uher and RW Tom Kuhnhackl were recalled from Wheeling on Saturday. Also scratched for the Penguins were D Carl Sneep, C Jayson Megna (injury), D Robert Bortuzzo (injury), LW Denver Manderson (injury), C Adam Payerl, LW Steve MacIntyre and RW Keven Veilleux.
Scoring ‚?? 1, BRI, Johan Sundstrom 1 (Wishart, de Hann) 12:00. 2. BRI, Nino Niederreiter 3 (Cizikas, Donavan) 18:14. Penalties ‚?? BRI, Watkins (boarding) 1:01; WBS, Peters (tripping) 7:57; WBS, Dupuis (cross-checking) 9:32; WBS, Despres (tripping) 13:43.
Scoring ‚?? 3. WBS, Riley Holzapfel 1 (Thompson, Bennett) 7:48. 4. BRI, John Persson 2 (Ullstrom, Sundstrom) 16:32. Penalties ‚?? WBS, Holzapfel (slashing) 4:55; BRI, Ness (interference) 10:29; BRI, Hamonic (hooking) 19:46. Third Period
Scoring ‚?? 5. WBS, Eric Tangradi 1 (Despres, Ferriero) 16:00. Penalties ‚?? BRI, Nelson (hooking) 5:12; WBS, Samuelsson (cross-checking) 10:34; BRI, McDonald (tripping) 16:56; BRI, McDonald (tripping) 19:59. Penalty shot ‚?? BRI, Niederreiter ‚?? NG, 16:25.
Shots on goal
Bridgeport ‚?? 8-5-9-22
Penguins ‚?? 9-13-14-36
Bridgeport ‚?? 0 of 5
Penguins ‚?? 0 of 6
Bridgeport ‚?? Kevin Poulin 3-0-0 (34 saves - 36 shots)
Penguins ‚?? Brad Thiessen ‚?? 0-1-0 (19-22)
Bridgeport ‚?? G Kevin Poulin, D Ty Wishart, D Calvin De Haan, LW Nino Niederreiter, C Caset Cizikas, RW Colin McDonald
Penguins ‚?? G Brad Thiessen, D Philip Samuelsson, D Brian Strait, LWEric Tangradi, C Philippe Dupuis, RW Benn Ferriero
1. BRI, Johan Sundstrom (goal, assist) 2. BRI, Nino Niederreiter (goal) 3. WBS, Eric Tangradi (goal)
Referees ‚?? Ryan Fraser, Ryan Hersey. Linesmen ‚?? Scott Pomento, Jud Ritter