Shoot the puck.
That was the message delivered this morning by head coach John Hynes to his team.
Shoot the puck.
The Penguins roll into Toronto and sweep the season series from the Marlies winning this afternoon 3-1. They hit the All-Star break winners of six of their last seven games.
Jeff Zatkoff vs. Mark Owuya
Joey Mormina, Cody Wild, Beau Bennett and Steve MacIntyre were the scratches. Warren Peters returned from injury and Dominik Uher replaced Steve MacIntyre.
First Period: If the Penguins lose this game, it is because they were handed four straight power plays and could do nothing with them, including a 5-on-3 for 1:23 that saw a turnover by the defensive pairing of Alex Grant and Brian Dumoulin and a shorthanded chance by the Marlies. John Hynes even used his timeout to draw something up during the extended 5-0n-3, but the Pens and Marlies went scoreless.
Second Period: Bobby Farnham gets in the way of an Alex Grant slapshot and takes a puck off an unprotected area on his leg. He’d turn out to be fine. The Penguins were throwing everything at Owuya. He wasn’t necessarily sharp, but the shots offered by the Penguins made it easy on him to save. Finally, Riley Holzapfel dangles the puck like a yo-yo and scored to put the Penguins out ahead 1-0.
The Penguins would continue to throw everything at Owuya. It was at this point that he was sharp, because he would stop three or four shots every sequence. Second period shots on goal were 19-3 in favor of the Penguins, just one off the season high.
Third Period: Tim Connolly, down from the NHL, has two goals in two games. Well, make it three goals in three games. At the top of the slot on the power play, he wrists one past Zatkoff to even things up at one a piece.
At this point, maybe six games ago, the Pens allow the floodgates to open and the opposing team to dance and dangle all over them and continue to put in goals. Not so.
:59 later, Paul Thompson picks off a Toronto clearing bid and puts a shot on Owuya that he fumbles with the glove and lets into the goal to put the Penguins up 2-1. Then, on the power play, Adam Payerl chases down his own rebound and scores to put the Penguins up 3-1. It would be all the run support that Zatkoff would need, as with Owuya pulled the Marlies generated good chances but couldn’t stick one past Zatkoff.
Three Stars: 3) Adam Payerl (goal, even) 2) Riley Holzapfel (goal, +1) 1) Jeff Zatkoff (27 saves on 28 shots)
Notes: Tom Kostopoulos has really helped guys like Payerl and Zach Sill. Payerl had six shots on goal this game alone, mostly from passes from Kostopoulos. … Marlies were an AHL best 13-2-0-1 at home coming into this game. … Three Marlies players made their AHL debuts today from the ECHL.
Around the Division: We were all watching the wrong game tonight as there was a goalie fight in Syracuse tonight as the Crunch triple up the St. John’s IceCaps by a score of 6-3. Binghamton beats Hershey in a shootout 3-2 and Norfolk whitewashes Bridgeport 5-0.
Standings: Binghamton 58 — Syracuse 56 — Penguins 45 — Hershey 44 — Norfolk 39
Conference: 1) BNG (58) 2) SPR (56) 3) POR (52) 4) SYR (56) 5) PRO (47) 6) MCH (46) 7) WBS (45) 8) WOR (45)
Wheeling Update: Nailers win 3-2 in Trenton tonight.
SendToNews Highlights: Aren’t up yet. May not be, I’ll check again in the morning.
Penguins break now for the All-Star break. I will be heading to Providence tomorrow and pinch hitting for Tom Venesky from the Times Leader and writing stories for that newspaper for Monday and Tuesday. Make sure you pick up a copy. I’ll probably have stuff here for the blog as well.
Let’s Go Pens!