I could pick it up in warmups and it was enough for me to tweet this…
Hartford is in a battle with about five teams, the Penguins included, for a playoff berth. Coming into this weekend, the Wolf Pack were on a six game losing streak. They needed this weekend, a three game road trip, to turn things around and get back into the playoff discussion.
Across the hall, the Penguins are coming into just the second game of the weekend after cooling off their biggest rival in two straight games. The thought may have slipped into the Penguins minds of just go through the motions and things will happen.
Well, it didn’t work. As a matter of fact, it blew up in their faces.
A 5-2 whipping today at the hands of the Hartford Wolf Pack who all of a sudden have won three straight. Not only that, the Penguins were outshot by a total of 40-13. No, that’s not a misprint. Forty to thirteen were the shots on goal including 13-3 at the end of one and 31-10 at the end of two. The Penguins were steamrolled from the drop of the puck today and the Wolf Pack never looked back.
Jeff Zatkoff opposed Jeff Malcolm today. The reason the Penguins lost was not because of the play of their goaltender. It could have easily been 7-2 tonight without the play of Zatkoff.
One line up change for the Penguins, J-S Dea was out for Josh Archibald. Derrick Pouliot did not dress, despite being sent down yesterday in the Andrew Ebbett transaction.
First Period: Penguins weathered the early Hartford storm, got a power play out of it, didn’t score. Hartford got a power play and scored immediately. It was executed perfectly. Faceoff win. Pass to point. Cross ice pass to far dot. Pass in front for a tip in goal. Red lights and fist pounds.
The assault continued. Penguins were being freight trained. Mike Kostka flipped a shot on net that Zatkoff never saw. 2-0.
Second Period: The pushback that the Penguins wanted never came. Reason? Had to kill essentially three straight penalties. First was a Scott Wilson double minor for high sticking that they were successful on. The second was a Josh Archibald slash that Conor Allen scored on from the blue line. 3-0. Shots to this point were 24-4.
Scott Harrington had a terrible game. A turnover behind his own net resulted in a shot and then a rebound to the wrong guy. His name was Chris Bourque. 4-0.
Seventeen seconds later, Josh Archibald scored on a rebound that finally gave the Penguins some life. It was 4-1.
Third Period: Exact copy from the start of the second, but it was Hartford taking penalties. Jayson Megna finally cashed from the slot to make it 4-2 cut the lead in half. After that, there was nothing that even resembled an offensive shift for the Penguins even with the benefits of a few power plays. It seems like, when the Penguins are on the power play, they don’t know how to enter the offensive zone from the blue line. If you were at the game today and saw that late third period power play, you know what I am talking about.
With time dwindling down, Jeff Zatkoff was pulled and who else but ex-Bear Chris Bourque would hit the empty net, therefore sealing the win for his team and indirectly helping his old team an hour south of Wilkes-Barre in the Bears by keeping the three point cushion intact for Hershey.
Three Stars: 3) Jayson Megna (goal, -1) 2) Chris Bourque (two goals, +2) and 1) Conor Allen (goal, assist, even)
Around the Division: Norfolk lost in Providence 4-1. Hershey and Lehigh Valley were idle. Binghamton won a crazy one, 8-7 in overtime in Adirondack.
Standings: Hershey 81 — Penguins 78 — Lehigh Valley 65 — Binghamton 60 — Norfolk 52
Conference: 1) MCH (84) 2) HER (81) 3) SYR (80) 4) WBS (78) 5) PRO (77) 6) POR (74) 7) HFD (74) 8) SPR (73)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers were idle.
SendToNews Highlights: Are here. Nothing much to see.
Week 23 AHL Power Rankings will go live on the blog Monday at 4. Check them out then. Otherwise, the Penguins next game is this Friday up in Syracuse. Hershey plays Wednesday, in Worcester. That will bear watching.
Let’s Go Pens!