Paul Thompson natural hat trick in the second period lifts the Penguins to a 5-3 win in Bridgeport this afternoon. Jeff Zatkoff stops 37 of 40 shots and was really sharp all weekend and the Penguins have won four of five and are warming up.
Jeff Zatkoff vs. Kevin Poulin – Yesterday Denver Manderson and Carl Sneep were assigned to the Wheeling Nailers. Jayson Megna played in this afternoon’s game.
First Period: Penguins get an early power play. Philippe Dupuis feathers a pass to Dylan Rees breaking in from the blue line and sneaks it past Poulin to put the Penguins ahead 1-0. Then, Reese gets smoked by Nino Niederreiter as Niederreiter just powered by him and slipped the puck under Zatkoff to even the score at one apiece. Best way to describe this period was the teams were simply feeling each other out it seemed.
Second Period: Paul Thompson’s playground, basically. Penguins chip a puck out of the defensive zone Thompson corrals on the far half wall and lasers it past Poulin for his first goal. Pressure from WBS would continue in the form of two full line changes with the puck in deep. Thompson’s second goal came with him standing in the slot and sniping it past Poulin. His third was a pass received from Bortuzzo and a shot that looked like totally confused Poulin.
It was the first regular season road hat trick for the Penguins in four years and two days since Chris Minard did so against the Houston Aeros. Nick Johnson did it in the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs vs. the Albany River Rats.
Meanwhile, Jeff Zatkoff put on a goalie clinic in that second period with Bridgeport coming basically in waves when they weren’t fishing Thompson goals out of their nets.
Third Period: Poulin was replaced by Kenny Reiter. John Persson drew the Sound Tigers within two, but then Brian Gibbons was sprung and scored on Reiter to make it 5-2. Zatkoff was really sharp all period and really all game, stopping the Sound Tigers attempts. Brock Nelson would score a goal with :31 left to make it 5-3 late.
Three Stars: 3) Jeff Zatkoff (37 saves on 40 shots) 2) Brian Gibbons (goal, assist, +1) and 1) Paul Thompson (natural hat trick, +3)
Around the Division: They all watched us.
Standings: Norfolk 12 — Syracuse 12 — Binghamton 9 — Hershey 9 — Penguins 8.
Penguins bus home tonight then get ready for the Bingahmton Senators on Wednesday night.