Apologies in advance for the terrible, somewhat confusing sorry effort for a pun headline tonight. I couldn’t resist the temptation.
Anyway, I called this two game series with Norfolk a trap series in my Week 13 AHL Power Rankings. Game 1 didn’t disappoint in my predictions, although this was a disappointing game, a 2-1 loss to the Norfolk Admirals.
The Penguins didn’t play bad, per se. They generated chances and got pucks on net, but a bad bounce in the first period and a costly turnover in the third period was all Norfolk and goaltender Jason LaBarbera needed.
If you missed the news earlier, Jeff Zatkoff and Derrick Pouliot are headed to Utica to represent the Penguins with Tom Kostopoulos in three weeks at the All-Star Classic.
Zatkoff started tonight and was opposed by the aforementioned Jason LaBarbera.
Lineup stayed the same from Sunday’s shootout loss in Hershey. Patrick McGrath took warmups but was a scratch.
First Period: A low shot from the point the Admirals put on net Jeff Zatkoff got a piece of. He wasn’t able to corral the rebound and put himself out of position. During that time, the puck finds its way to the stick of Charles Sarault, who puts the rebound in for a quick 1-0 Admirals lead.
Penguins had 3:20 of a double minor for a high stick on Josh Archibald to work with but couldn’t generate anything good towards LaBarbera. He wasn’t necessarily sharp tonight as much as he saw what was coming and is a professional, veteran goaltender who can make those types of saves at this level.
Second Period: Shots were 5-1 Norfolk to open the period. I got the sense that the Admirals were looking for the kill shot early on. A Penguins shot off the post. Penguins keep their legs moving to the final five minutes where Kevin Gagne holds Tom Kostopoulos in the neutral zone. Pens going to the power play .They cash on a Carter Rowney shot from the blue line that Jason LaBarbera makes a save on but loses the rebound to J-S Dea who puts in the rebound to tie the game at one each.
Third Period: Max Friberg works a puck off of Taylor Chorney and zig zags around Alex Boak and Jeff Zatkoff for an easy goal that turned out to be the go ahead and eventual game winner. Late fireworks when Tom Kuhnhackl runs Andrew O’Brien into the wall and a scrum ensues that sees referee David Banfield give Pierre Leblond a ten minute misconduct. Penguins would kill the penalty and Kuhnhackl would then fight John Kurtz.
In the final two minutes, Jayson Megna hit a post on a wide open net that would have tied the game. Penguins, with Zatkoff later pulled, would never find the equalizer.
Three Stars: 3) Max Friberg (goal, +1) 2) J-S Dea (goal, even) and 1) Charles Sarault (goal, +1)
Around the Division: They all watched us.
Standings: Penguins 44 — Hershey 39 — Lehigh Valley 37 — Binghamton 34 — Norfolk 29
Conference: 1) MCH (52) 2) SPR (50) 3) WBS (44) 4) SYR (48) 5) HFD (40) 6) HER (39) 7) POR (39) 8) PRO (38)
SendToNews Highlights: Are here. Nothing much to look at from a Penguin fan perspective.
Hershey gets another game in hand on the Penguins and now can catch and pass Wilkes-Barre for the division without the Penguins having anything to say about it, provided it breaks that way. Norfolk is a better team that its record shows, and I think that was evident tonight. Rematch Friday should be fun.
Unless I can think of anything or something happens worth blogging about, check the blog again Friday for the Gameday setup against Norfolk again.
Let’s Go Pens!