A couple of questions will surround this Penguins team tonight into tomorrow, after a 6-3 loss to the Manchester Monarchs in New Hampshire tonight….
— Can the Penguins run with the elite teams? Manchester has a great home record (24-6-1-0) and just doesn’t lose at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
— Is Wilkes-Barre a one-dimensional team that, with proper personnel and scouting, you can shut down? The Penguins were out shot 28-18 tonight and had just 11 shots through 40 minutes of play.
— Is this the end of the Jeff Zatkoff as we know him? Zatkoff has been insulated by the stellar play by February’s AHL Goaltender of the Month Matt Murray and is basically the backup for the Penguins coming down the stretch.
As I was watching this one on AHL Live tonight, with the game already decided, I wondered if Head Coach John Hynes will even sleep tonight, with the teams rematching Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m.
The answer to my third question really wouldn’t have mattered and you are silly if you pin the loss 100% on Jeff Zatkoff’s shoulders. The Penguins lost this game tonight because they played bad as a team, not because of the play of the goaltender tonight.
We don’t have to wait very long to see how the Penguins respond to this loss, which snaps a 10game point streak.
The aforementioned Jeff Zatkoff vs. Jean-Francois Berube.
Conor Sheary – Andrew Ebbett – Tom Kostopoulos
Scott Wilson – Jayson Megna – Josh Archibald
Tom Kuhnhackl – Carter Rowney – Dominik Uher
Bobby Farnham – Matia Marcantuoni – Adam Payerl
Brian Dumoulin – Taylor Chorney
Reid McNeill – Scott Harrington
Nick D’Agostino – Barry Goers
Jeff Zatkoff – Matt Murray
Harrison Ruopp skated the warmups but was a scratch. J-S Dea and Pierre Leblond did not participate in warmups and were the other healthy scratches.
Nick Drazenovic (upper body) and Bryan Rust (lower body) are still week-to-week and are not on the trip.
First Period: There are a few teams in the AHL that you just cannot make a mistake against. The Monarchs are one of them. After a really bad turnover by Taylor Chorney to Jordan Weal, Manchester jumped out to the quick 1-0 lead. They quickly made it 2-0 off a Brian O’Neill slam dunk far post. The Penguins were trapped on the ice for an icing, got caught trying too hard to get the puck out of the zone and forgot that O’Neill was camped out far post.
Penguins got one back on the power play off of Scott Harrington’s first of the season….
It was also the eighth straight game that Wilkes-Barre has scored a power play goal.
Manchester re-established the two goal lead on a power play goal from Colin Miller.
Second Period: Frustrating period for the Penguins, who managed just one shot on goal for the first ten minutes/ They didn’t do themselves any favors, gift wrapping the Monarchs a long 5-on-3 power play that Vincent LoVerde scored on at the very end of to make it 4-1. The Monarchs continued to contain the Penguins. Finally, late, the Pens had two consecutive power play opportunities and scored on this one from Taylor Chorney…
Just when you think the tide is turning for the Penguins, Andrew Bodnarchuk scores to make it 5-2 for the home team in the final minute.
Felt like that whenever the Penguins took a step forward, they followed it up with two steps backward.
Third Period: Penguins opened with a sense of urgency and got this goal from Dominik Uher to draw back within two…
Carter Rowney set that play up by cycling the puck low and threw the puck on Berube. Uher was there to clean up the rebound.
Josh Archibald took his first of two tripping calls in the period and that ended any hope of a Penguins comeback because the Penguins needed to kill a penalty. They were successful, but then Jordan Weal picked up his fourth point of the night when he deked Nick D’Agostino out of his jock and scored to make it 6-3.
Credit to Manchester. Every piece of momentum that the Penguins countered with they responded to. That needs to be cleaned up quickly and should.
Three Stars: 3) Zach O’Brien (two assists, +3) 2) Brian O’Neill goal, assist, +3) and 1) Jordan Weal (two goals, two assists, +2)
Around the Division: All wasn’t lost from a Penguins perspective because Hershey lost 2-1 to Providence. Binghamton beat Norfolk 3-2 in overtime and Lehigh Valley beat Bridgeport 2-1 also in overtime.
Standings: Hershey 77 — Penguins 70 — Lehigh Valley 59 — Binghamton 56 — Norfolk 51
Conference: 1) MCH (77) 2) HER (77) 3) SYR (74) 4) WBS (70) 5) SPR (70) 6) WOR (68) 7) HFD (68) 8) PRO (68)
Wheeling Update: After playing four games in five games this week, the Nailers had a much needed Friday night off.
SendToNews Highlights: Are not up yet. Doubt you’d want to look anyway. If I remember at some point tomorrow I will link in. No promises.
Gameday for the rematch vs. these Monarchs will be up at 11 a.m. for the 3 p.m. start.
Let’s Go Pens!