A lineup devoid of Chuck Kobasew (12 points in 12 playoff games) Andrew Ebbett (power play point man) and Nick Drazenovic (power play point man) and you are left with this debacle tonight, a 5-0 whitewashing by the St. John’s IceCaps who take a 2-1 series lead in this best of seven series.
It was frustrating. You could feel it when you watched players pour onto the ice for warmups and you didn’t see Drazenovic (who we knew yesterday was ruled out) Kobasew and Ebbett (still listed as day to day) step out onto the ice for warmups. You could then see it on the players faces when they were down 2-0, 3-0, and beyond.
There was a sequence late in the second period that goes like this…
Already down 4-0 with less than five seconds to play in the period, Harry Zolnierczyk (I think) ices a puck. It was a blatant icing, as he fired the puck the length of the ice at the top of the rings in his own zone.
4.4 seconds left. Faceoff to goaltender Peter Mannino’s left.
With .1 second on the clock, Mannino doesn’t get all of a Zach Redmond shot from the point and it trickles past him for a 5-0 St. John’s lead. Review upheld the call, and they officially put one second back on the clock.
Prior to the setup for the icing, the Arena played “Breakdown” by Tantric. I don’t know if that band is still even together these days, but the song was popular when I was in college, some 13 years ago.
Anyway, a “Breakdown” by the Penguins and a 5-0 shutout on home ice. That kind of night.
No time to wallow in your sorrows. Game 4 comes at you tomorrow night at 7:05.
Peter Mannino vs. Michael Hutchinson.
Lineup Changes: Apparently Tom Kuhnhackl, Peter Merth and Dustin Stevenson were added to the WBS lineup at some point because Kuhnhackl was in and Merth and Stevenson were announced as healthy scratches. I missed that press release if Wilkes-Barre issued it, somehow. Carter Rowney and Pierre Leblond were also inserted into the lineup for Mike Carman and Josh Archibald (healthy) and Dominik Uher (injured) For St. John’s, they dressed the same lineup. It was tweeted by Brendan McCarthy that Jerome Samson was out with food poisoning else he would have dressed for the IceCaps. Samson missed Game 2.
First Period: The Penguins went 0-for-6 on the power play tonight and now are 0-for-the-series on the man up. Coach John Hynes was experimenting with a four forward and one defenseman setup and it just wasn’t working. Rookie Conor Sheary was acting as the “defenseman” on the back end and he was turning over pucks that led to chances the other way for St. John’s.
IceCaps score on a power play. Patrice Cormier the recipient of two-touch passing by Andrew Gordon and Josh Morrissey. Then, the IceCaps score again. Turnover behind Mannino, Jason Jaffray makes it 2-0.
Penguins get a 5-on-3 power play for 1:05. Obvious turning point of the game, right? They get no goal out of it. I don’t even think they registered a shot.
Second Period: More confusion behind the Wilkes-Barre net and Eric O’Dell makes it 3-0. Then, the Penguins take two consecutive penalties. Initial call was a Zach Sill trip. Tom Kostopoulos, who looked like he had a burr under his saddle all night, takes a silly after the whistle penalty and it’s a full 2:00 power play for the IceCaps. After some nice clears by the Pens, Kael Mouillierat picks a corner and it’s 4-0 IceCaps.
Seemed like the Penguins couldn’t establish a good offensive setup, and when they did it was rushed and saved by Hutchinson.
Wilkes-Barre fails to capitalize on two power plays late and then the late score by Redmond as referenced in my open.
Third Period: Rookie Matthew Murray replaced Peter Mannino and stopped all eight shots faced. Pens had to kill a 4:00 Zach Sill double minor. That was it. Murray, for what it’s worth, looked solid in net for the Pens in mop up.
Three Stars: 3) Eric O’Dell (goal, assist, +2) 2) Andrew Gordon (three assists, +1) and 1) Michael Hutchinson (30 save shutout)
Last year it was a buzz saw Syracuse team. The year before that was this very same IceCap team but the Category 5 hurricane known as the Norfolk Admirals waiting in the wings. Before that was the Hershey dynasty. Seems like the Penguins are facing the same issues, but from within, at the infirmary. Big names are missing and it is starting to show.
But it’s only a 2-1 IceCaps lead in the series. Button up a couple of things with what you have and come back Thursday a better team. If not, then it’s another exit. Players know this, coaches know it too.
SendToNews Highlight package is here, if you want to see it.
Game 4 tomorrow. Gameday setup hits the blog at 3 p.m.
Let’s Go Pens!