Penguins penalty kill was ranked second overall in the AHL at 94.8% coming into the game tonight vs. the Hershey Bears. That will take a significant drop downwards tomorrow morning as the Penguins lose this game 3-1 with all three goals for Hershey coming on the power play.
Jeff Zatkoff vs. Braden Holtby — no lineup changes for the Penguins tonight.
First Period: Can best be described as well-disciplined, very crisp period of hockey. Both teams had a chance on the power play, with the highlight of the period and probably the game and maybe the season coming when Jeff Zatkoff robbed Zach Hamill on a back-door play that the Bears are notorious for. Tom Grace on radio already dubbed it save of the year.
Second Period: Warren Peters takes an interference call at :19. Bears waste no time with Tomas Kundratek shooting the puck from the point and Boyd Kane providing the deflection in on the screen in front. That would snap a streak of 37 consecutive penalties killed. Penguins came out and really peppered Holtby this period but the NHL locked out goaltender made every save look routine. Bears go up 2-0 while the Penguins were killing a 5-on-3 penalty. Zach Hamill would finally stuff one past Zatkoff. At this point with goals at a premium, a backbreaking goal.
At this point the Penguins had been shutout for 105+minutes going back to the 65 minutes of game they played scoreless in Binghamton and the 40 minutes played at Hershey plus whatever time that eclipsed in Bridgeport. All of these offseason acquisitions have not been scoring.
Third Period: Penguins finally score when Riley Holzapfel gets a nice pass from Bobby Farnham to make it 2-1. I had the sense at this point that the Bears started playing prevent and not looking for an offensive opportunity. Holtby weathers the storm and keeps the Penguins out of his net. Bobby Farnham takes a penalty late and ex-Penguin Jeff Taffe gets an empty netter with 1.1 seconds to play.
Three power play goals allowed after not allowing 37 in a row. Overall though, a good effort by the Penguins when playing even strength. You have to think that the offense will come around.
Three Stars: 3) Riley Holzapfel (goal +1) 2) Garrett Stafford (two assists, -1) 1) Zach Hamill (goal, -1)
How Holtby doesn’t get a star for his work baffled even Tom Grace postgame.
Around the Division: Syracuse drops Hamilton in Montreal, Quebec at the Bell Centre in front of 18,000+ fans by a score of 4-1. Norfolk and Binghamton had off tonight.
Standings: Syracuse 14 — Norfolk 12 — Hershey 11 — Binghamton 10 — Penguins 10
Wheeling Update: Keven Veilleux scores his first ECHL goal but it is not enough as the Toledo Walleye come in to WesBanco Arena and deal the Nailers a 5-2 loss. Patrick Killeen stopped 20 of 24 in net.
Penguins at it tomorrow again at home vs. the Portland Pirates at 7:05. Gameday will be here tomorrow at 3 p.m. for that one.
Let’s Go Pens!