WILKES-BARRE TWP. ‚?? Clinging to a 1-0 lead midway through the third period against the Hershey Bears, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguin Bobby Farnham cross-checked Tomas Kundratek and was sent to the penalty box.
The move was in response to a hit that Kundratek laid on Joey Mormina seconds before, and even though Farnham was sticking up for a teammate it still gave Hershey a power play, threatening the Penguins one-goal lead.
Call it a test.
One that the Penguins passed with flying colors, thanks in part to Brad Thiessen, who made four saves to kill off the power play and preserve the 1-0 lead.
Thiessen made 23 saves on the night for his second shutout in four starts to lead the Penguins to a 1-0 win over the Bears on Friday. The win is the Penguins‚?? third in the last 16 games and second against the Bears this season, whom they trail by one point for third place in the East Division.
And the Penguins did it without two of their top players ‚?? Eric Tangradi and Simon Despres, who are in Pittsburgh for training camp.
Head coach John Hynes was happy with the way his lineup played without Tangradi and Despres ‚?? a lineup that could lose a couple more regulars as early as today.
‚??Guys are ready for it and there‚??s a new excitement in the room,‚?Ě Hynes said. ‚??It‚??s a good first step for us.‚?Ě
The Penguins power play accounted for the only goal of the game midway through the first period. Brian Dumoulin made it happen when he took a pass from Beau Bennett at the point, skated along the blueline and blasted a slapshot into the wide side of the net to make it 1-0. Dumoulin‚??s goal was his first in 12 games and third on the season.
‚??For us to get a lead, that was big,‚?Ě Dumoulin said. ‚??It‚??s fun to play like that. It gets everyone involved.‚?Ě
The power play goal was the Penguins‚?? fourth in the last 70 chances, spanning 15 games.
Thiessen did his part to make sure the lead stood. Although Hershey only managed 23 shots on the night, Thiessen was forced to make several difficult saves.
In his last four starts Thiessen has allowed four goals and he has two shutouts. His goals against average is 1.00 along with a stellar .962 save percentage.
‚??I feel good about my game and I‚??ve been working hard to be ready for the opportunities when they come,‚?Ě Thiessen said.
He worked hardest in the third period when Hershey registered 10 shots and had two power plays.
After Farnham was sent to the box for cross-checking at the ten-minute mark, Hershey set up shop in the Penguins end and forced Thiessen to make four straight saves before the puck was cleared. His best was a diving stop on a Ryan Potulny shot that hit his mask.
‚??He made all the saves he should‚??ve and some he shouldn‚??t have,‚?Ě Hynes said. ‚??That‚??s when you know you have a really good chance to win a hockey game.‚?Ě
Farnham was relieved that Thiessen came up with the saves while he watched from the penalty box.
‚??At that juncture in the game, it was a stupid play by me. We didn‚??t need a spark. What we needed was to stay out of the box,‚?Ě Farnham said. ‚??Brad made some phenomenal stops and the penalty kill bailed me out.‚?Ě
While the win gave the Penguins hope that they could put an end to their recent losing streak for good, they also know more changes are imminent as Pittsburgh readies for training camp. Hynes said three or four more players could go up to Pittsburgh, and it could happen before today‚??s game against Adirondack or Sunday morning at the latest.
Farnham said he and his teammates are ready to pick up the offensive void left by any future call-ups, and Friday‚??s win gave them a renewed confidence that they are up to the task.
‚??Right now, just getting a win is huge,‚?Ě he said. ‚??Brad was awesome in net and it was a good team effort. It was a character win for our team.‚?Ě
‚?Ę The Penguins assigned RW Keven Veilleux to Wheeling on Friday. He was scoreless in four games with the games this season.
‚?Ę D Joseph Morrow, RW Tom Kuhnhackl (injury), D Alex Grant, RW Benn Ferriero (injury), LW Eric Tangradi (Pittsburgh) and D Simon Despres (Pittsburgh) were scratched for the Penguins.
‚?Ę The Penguins now have five shutout wins this season.
First Period Scoring ‚?? 1. WBS, Brian Dumoulin 3 (Bennett, Reese) power play 12:57. Penalties ‚?? HER, Kane (tripping) 11:50; WBS, Peters (kneeing) 17:39. Second Period Scoring ‚?? None. Penalties ‚?? WBS, Holzapfel (boarding) 5:52; HER, McNeill (tripping) 6:50; HER, Hamill (roughing) 13:40.
Third Period Scoring ‚?? None. Penalties ‚?? WBS, Farnham (cross-checking) 10:00; WBS, Holzapfel (goaltender interference) 15:52. Shots
on goal Hershey ‚?? 8-5-10-23 Penguins ‚?? 9-6-6-21 Power-play
Opportunities Hershey ‚?? 0 of 4 Penguins ‚?? 1 of 3 GoaltendersHershey ‚?? Dany Sabourin 5-5-0 (20 saves ‚?? 21 shots) Penguins ‚?? Brad Thiessen 5-7-1 (23-23)
Starters Hershey ‚?? G Dany Sabourin, D Patrick McNeill, D Steve Oleksy, LW Boyd Kane, C Ryan Potulny, RW Zach Hamill Penguins ‚?? G Brad Thiessen, D Brian Strait, D Robert Bortuzzo, LW Beau Bennett, C Trevor Smith, RW Jayson Megna