WBS Penguins Hold on in Norfolk 4-3, Magic Number is 3

Wednesday, March 30, 2011
The Pens got off to a hot start and held on to the four goal first period to beat the Admirals tonight.
The Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins got one step closer to clinching the AHL's number one overall seed in the playoffs tonight. First, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers pulled out a comeback win in regulation over the Portland Pirates. Couple that with a Penguins win tonight and the magic number drops from seven to just three points.

The bad news? Brett Sterling was drilled into the boards from behind by Vladimir Mihalik in the offensive zone early in the third period and lay motionless on the ice for about 30 seconds. He didn't return to the game but reports from someone in attendance told me that Sterling skated to the dressing room fully upright and without help from the trainers. Hopefully just a precaution. I will post an update on Sterling as soon as I can confirm his status.

STERLING UPDATE: Sterling will be on the bus home with the team, which is good because if his condition was bad or questionable he would have stayed for observation.

Stat of the night: After going 6 for 52 on the power play the first 11 games of March, the WBS Penguins have gone 7 for 22 with the man advantage in the last three games.

That was the last game of the month which means my March grades on the Penguins will be up soon. Be sure to check back for that. I plan on getting the defense and goalies done tonight and having them ready tomorrow afternoon. The forwards will hopefully be up tomorrow night or early Friday morning.

A quick recap after the jump.

The Penguins got off to a great start netting four goals on 13 shots in the first period, three of which were on the power play. Brett Sterling got the Pens started on the power play just 2:22 into the game, tapping home an Andrew Hutchinson point shot to give the Pens a 1-0 lead.

Blair Jones, the Penguin killer this season (4G,3A in 6 meetings), tied the game at 1 after a Corey Potter turnover sprung the Admirals on a 2-on-1. But after that it was all Penguins.

Keven Veilleux got his first goal of the month and his ninth of the season to give the Pens a 2-1 lead with 5:16 left in the first period. Sterling got his 2nd power play goal of the game and his team leading 25th of the season to make it 3-1. Ryan Craig stole a puck from an Admirals defenseman and roofed a backhander past Dustin Tokarski to make it 4-1 after the opening period.

Things got physical in the second period. Andrew Hutchinson and Mike Angelidis dropped the gloves 2:28 in but the real scrap came two seconds later when Keven Veilleux and Alex Berry went at it at center ice. Veilleux threw Berry’s jersey over his head and demolished him. I can’t think of a Keven Veilleux fight that has disappointed.  YouTube videos of Veilleux’s fights here.

After a questionable interference call on Jesse Boulerice for pushing Johan Harju into Curry, the Admirals made it a two goal deficit with power play goal from Troy Milam.

Overall, not a good period for the Pens in the middle frame. They were outshot 14-6 and outscored 1-0. Still, the Pens held a 4-2 lead heading into the final frame.

Scary play 2:21 into the third. The Pens were already on a power play when Vladimir Mihalik drilled Sterling into the boards from behind and Sterling lay motionless on the ice for about 20 seconds before being helped off by trainer Patrick Steidle. 

Sterling left the game and didn’t return. I was told by someone in attendance that Sterling skated to the dressing room on his own power so hopefully he was taken off as a precaution.

Mattias Ritola deflected a shot in past Curry to cut the Pens lead to one but that would be as close as the Admirals would get. They would pull their goalie in the final 1:10 and not be able to tie it. Pens hold on 4-3.


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