WILKES-BARRE TWP. — When Bobby Farnham played for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, one of his specialties was creating energy and generating momentum.
On Friday, with Farnham on the opposing side, the Penguins lacked momentum and suffered an outage on the power play to fall to the St. John’s IceCaps, 5-2. Both Penguin goals came in the first period and the power play was 1-for-7, including missed opportunities with a four-minute advantage and 1:35 with a five-on-three.
“Those of us who play on the power play need to be better,” defenseman David Warsofsky said. “When you have a four-minute power play you have to score. Then we got a five-on-three and couldn’t score on that either. It was a big factor in the game.”
The IceCaps struck quickly when Ryan Johnston connected with a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle a minute into the game to put the Penguins down 1-0.
Less than two minutes later, the Penguins (33-10-3-0) tied it up when Ethan Prow teamed up with Tom Kostopoulos on a give-and-go. Prow skated deep intot he offensive zone and dished the puck down to Kostopoulos, who waited for Prow to enter the low slot and passed it back. Prow beat IceCaps goaltender Charlie Lindgren for his first AHL goal.
The Penguins made it 2-1 later in the period when Derrick Pouliot’s shot from the high slot beat Lindgren to close out the period with a power play tally.
St. John’s did tie it again late in the second period on a long shot by Daniel Carr that got under Tristan Jarry’s glove to make it 2-2.
With four minutes left in the second period, the Penguins had an opportunity to re-take the lead when St. John’s forward Michael McCarron was assessed a double-minor for roughing. The play resulted from a hard hit by Farnham that caused a scrum and a fight between Patrick McGrath and IceCaps forward Stefan Matteau.
Still, the Penguins didn’t create much on the four minutes of power play time and ended it with a holding penalty on Cameron Gaunce.
“We didn’t shoot enough,” Penguins coach Clark Donatelli said. “Trying to be too fancy. We didn’t establish the shot and it cost us tonight.”
St. John’s gained a 3-2 lead five minutes into the third period when McCarron put home a rebound in front, but once again the Penguins gained an opportunity to come back with another power play, this time with a long two-man advantage.
Despite several decent shots, the Penguins couldn’t beat Lindgren and they continued to trail the IceCaps by a goal.
After that, the wheels came off for the Penguins as they went to the box twice and allowed an IceCaps power play goal with six minutes left to go down 4-2.
Farnham sealed the win for the IceCaps when he registered an empty net goal with less than a minute remaining to make it 5-2.
“We know we’re going to get the best from other teams when they come here,” Warsofsky said. “It just comes down to we need to be better on special teams.”
Farnham had an eventful night aside from his goal. He threw several big hits, hammed it up with the fans during a scrum along the boards and was honored with a video tribute during a stoppage in play.
Farnham on his energy level: “I kind of had to put the restraints on a couple times tonight. The adrenaline was there from the start and the fans were unbelievable.”
Farnham on the video tribute: “That was awesome. I wasn’t really expecting any of that. I think it will be one of the coolest things that I’ll ever see in my career.”
And Farnham on talking to fans while involved in a scrum: “You see a lot of familiar faces in the stands. I was having a little fun with it.”
Reach Tom Venesky at 570-991-6395 or on Twitter @TomVenesky