Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins head coach Clark Donatelli knows what needs to be remedied as his team is one loss away from elimination in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs.
Problem is, will there be enough time for a quick fix?
The Penguins dropped the first two games of the best-of-five series against the Charlotte Checkers. In Game 1, the Penguins established a two-goal lead in the second period but followed it up with three straight penalties, allowing the Checkers to score two goals and the game-winner in overtime.
In Game 2, the Penguins scored just 22 seconds into the first period but miscues allowed the Checkers to take a 2-1 lead in the third before scoring two empty net goals to seal the 4-1 win.
So what do the Penguins need to clean up?
According to Donatelli, his team needs to be more disciplined as they put Charlotte on the power play seven times in Game 1.
“Both games have been tight, and if we just minimize our mistakes and clean all that up, things could’ve been different,” he said.
As the series shifts back to Wilkes-Barre for the final three games, the Penguins need to win all three in order to stave off elimination.
It’s not an impossible task.
In the first round of the 2017 playoffs, three teams won three consecutive games in a series to advance. Syracuse and Albany accomplished the feat after losing the first game of the series.
In franchise history, the Penguins dropped the first two games of a best-of-seven playoff series twice — in 2004 and 2013 — and ended up advancing.
Still, Donatelli said his team isn’t looking past Game 3 on Thursday at the Mohegan Sun Arena. During the regular season, the Penguins had the second-best home record in the AHL at 26-10-1-1.
“The urgency has to be there and we have to embrace it,” he said. “We know we’re good at home and we know we have to win one at a time.
“Our guys are in good spirits even though this isn’t the position we want to be in. It’s not like we’ve been dominated in the first two games, but we have to clean some things up.”
• Tristan Jarry started the first two games and allowed a total of five goals on 64 shots. The Penguins have veteran netminder Michael Leighton as the backup, but Donatelli said he’ll start Jarry again in Game 3.
• Defenseman Jarred Tinordi exited Game 2 early with an injury and will be a game-time decision, Donatelli said.
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