Penguins cap off a perfect six point weekend and win in nearly the same fashion this afternoon as they did two weeks ago. Down 1-0 to start the third, Riley Holzapfel evens things at one. Nothing decided the rest of the way in regulation. Then in overtime, Chad Kolarik plays the part of Paul Thompson and wins it with 10.8 left in overtime and the Penguins comeback and win in stunning fashion, 2-1.
Now, the Penguins just sit five points back of the Syracuse Crunch for the second spot and seven points back of the Binghamton Senators for the East Division lead. The Penguins have won 9 of 10 games and could be regarded as one of the hottest teams in the AHL.
Credit the Bears, too, for putting on a great show today as well. These two teams may be the best in the East Division at present.
Jeff Zatkoff vs. Dany Sabourin in a rematch from the AHL Outdoor Classic a few weeks ago. Chris Barton was scratched to make room for Steve MacIntyre.
First Period: Highlighted by a legal hip check thrown by Bears defenseman Steve Oleksy to Bobby Farnham which Farnham takes exception to. They fight. Oleksy gets the jersey over Farnham’s head and feeds him some shots. Riley Holzapfel had a good chance when he had Sabourin down but never was able to get a shot off. Otherwise, an even period with the goaltenders stealing the show.
Second Period: You could have called this period the Steve and Steve show with the antics of Steve MacIntyre and Steve Oleksy. Olesky clips MacIntyre at the WBS blue line putting the Penguins on the power play. The Pens don’t score, then MacIntyre charges Oleksy, then gets an additional two minutes tacked on for unsportsmanlike conduct. The Bears score on the back end of the double minor when Boyd Kane received a pass on the far dot that he zipped past Zatkoff to put the Bears out ahead 1-0. Then, the pace of play really slowed down from there with both teams playing two games in the span of 24 hours.
Third Period: Penguins put up 14 shots on goal in the period. Relentless forecheck all period. Holzapfel gets one by Sabourin in a pile of bodies to bring things even. The teams traded power plays to close out the period but it was on to….
Overtime: One of the things I noticed from looking at the scoresheet from Friday and the scoresheet from yesterday was the lack of shots from Chad Kolarik. He had none in either game. He had one soft shot somewhere in the second period in this game. Anyway, Joe Morrow gets thrown into the boards hard. Neither referee Trevor Hanson or Jon McIsaac call anything. A few moments later a whistle during play and here is where I thought that the Penguins would be called for arguing the non-call. No. Boyd Kane was mad about something. Boyd Kane let the referees know he was mad about something. The referees had heard enough and placed Kane in the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct. Say what you want about whether the call was ticky-tack by McIsaac / Hanson, but your captain takes a penalty on the bench in overtime during a rivalry game. You just can’t have or let that happen. On the ensuing power play, Chad Kolarik receives a pass from Alex Grant below the blue line he one-times home. Game over.
In keeping with the theme from the Outdoor Classic, the Bears were unhappy with the celebration by the Penguins at the end. Ah, rivalries!
Three Stars: 3) Jeff Zatkoff (20 saves on 21 shots) 2) Dany Sabourin (37 saves on 39 shots) 1) Chad Kolarik (game winning OT goal, even)
Notes: Last regular season game in Hershey for the season. The next two games are Friday March 1 and Sunday April 7, both in Wilkes-Barre. My how time flies. — St. John’s may host the 2014 All-Star Classic according to this entry by Brendan McCarthy for the St. John’s Telegram. — Tom Venesky from the Times Leader had a nice story on Kolarik featured on the AHL’s website you can look at here.
Around the Division: They all watched us.
Standings: Binghamton 58 — Syracuse 56 — Penguins 51 — Hershey 47 — Norfolk 39
Conference: 1) SPR (60) 2) BNG (58) 3) POR (56) 4) SYR (56) 5) PRO (53) 6) WBS (51) 7) BRI (47) 8) HER (47)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers are off until this Thursday when they host Greenville.
SendToNews Highlights: Are here. Look to be all in one package.
I’ll probably have a few things here and there this week. The Penguins travel to Norfolk next weekend.
Let’s Go Pens!