Third Period Penguins Tally Five, Hartzell Wins AHL Debut

Saturday, November 23, 2013
Photo courtesy of @ItsJacki

Through two periods of play tonight, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins were out shot 26-9 and for the most part, outplayed by the St. John's IceCaps. Luckily for them, Eric Hartzell brought his A+ game in his AHL debut and gave his team a chance entering the third period trailing 1-0.

What the Pens did in the third period was more than completely unexpected. Five goals on ten shots later, they skate away with a 5-2 victory.  The Pens have been the AHL's best third period team all season, now outscoring opponents 31-10 in the final frame, but the real story tonight is the play in net from the Pens rookie goaltender.

Hartzell was tested early and often, stopping all 12 first period shots he faced and 25 of 26 through the first two periods. It's not like the IceCaps were padding Hartzell's stats either. The Pens put themselves in penalty trouble seven times in the first two periods, including a Nick D'Agostino double minor.

It wasn't until the seventh power play of the night that the IceCaps took a 1-0 lead. Eric O'Dell tapped home the rebound of Brenden Kitchon shot 10:08 into the second period.

In the third period, the Pens started to show signs of life. They went on the power play about five minutes into the final frame and tied the game at 1-1 when Tom Kostopoulos found a loose puck from a Dominik Uher shot. Kostopoulos' 7th of the season was scored where most of his goals have come - in front of the net.

On the next shift, Bobby Farnham crashes the net and follows up a D'Agostino shot with a leaping swat at the puck that squeaks past Eddie Pasquale. Two goals in 29 seconds and all of a sudden, a grim 1-0 deficit turns into a 2-1 lead for the home team.

The IceCaps weren't going to pack it in from there, tying the game at 2-2 on O'Dell's second power play goal of the night with 6:03 left in regulation. 

About two and a half minutes later, it was the Penguins turn on the power play. Andrew Ebbett made a great play-fake, acting as if he was going to send a cross-ice pass down low to Kostopoulos. Instead, he sneaks a well-placed wrist shot between the legs of Pasquale to re-gain the Penguins lead at 3-2.

A tough third period for Pasquale, who only faced nine shots in the first 40 minutes of play. After Ebbett's goal, Pasquale broke his stick in half out of obvious frustration. With Pasquale frustrated, the Penguins wasted no time, pushing forward on the next shift with the 4th line on the ice.

Zach Sill, in his first game back with the AHL Penguins, threw a puck on net from a bad angle in the corner and caught a nice bounce. The puck deflected off an IceCaps defenseman and trickled past Pasquale just 17 seconds after Ebbett made it 3-2.

The Penguins added an empty net goal to cap the scoring (no pun intended) at 5-2 after Farnham hustled down the ice to a loose puck. Farnham's diving poke check of the puck hit the post, but Jayson Megna was right there at the top of the crease to tap the puck home. With the goal, Megna extends his point streak to five games (4G-1A) as he has recorded a point in every game since his return from the NHL. So much for that NHL hangover.

The Penguins next game is Wednesday night on Thanksgiving Eve up in Glens Falls against the Adirondack Phantoms. The Pens are scheduled to practice Monday and Tuesday, so I'll have an update from practice before they take to the road for upstate New York.


Eric Hartzell made his first career AHL start and was nothing short of spectacular, stopping 29 of 31 shots in his debut, picking up his first AHL win.

Zach Sill, Bobby Farnham and Nick D'Agostino returned to the WBS lineup, replacing Denver Manderson, Cody Sylvester and Dustin Stevenson, respectively.

Forwards Nick Drazenovic and Pierre Luc Leblond are still out of the lineup and are in that "day-to-day" status.

Defensemen Reid McNeill and Peter Merth are also 

Zolnierczyk - Megna - Conner
Kuhnhackl - Ebbett - Kostopoulos
Uher - Carman - Thompson
Farnham - Sill - Payerl

Despres - Samuelsson
Harrington - Dumoulin
D'Agostino - Mikkelson


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