Hartzell Leads Penguins Past Crunch

Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Penguins shut out Crunch 4-0 to start their five-game home stand with a win. Photo credit: WBS Penguins Picture Page
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins score early and often in a 4-0 victory over the Syracuse Crunch tonight. The Penguins win helps them keep pace in the East Division race as first place Binghamton defeated Worcester 6-3 tonight, maintaining their three point lead over the Pens. The loss for the Crunch was their 5th straight, and they'll look to bounce back Friday night in Utica against the Comets.

Eric Hartzell got the 20-save shutout, his 3rd of the season, improving to 9-3-1 in his rookie campaign. Hartzell has been impressive in January, going 5-1-0 with a 1.24 goals against average and a .949 save percentage. With another game left for the Penguins this month, another strong performance from Hartzell might be enough to land him AHL Player of the Month honors. More on Hartzell and the AHL Penguins goaltending situation online in a story tomorrow.

Team captain Tom Kostopoulos added a goal and an assist in the win for the Penguins, who opened up a five game home stand that continues this weekend with games Friday against Norfolk and Saturday against Rochester.

Recap after the jump.

The Pens were off and running in the first period, scoring a pair of goals and taking an early lead.

The Penguins took a 1-0 lead after a nice play behind the net from Pierre-Luc Leblond. Leblond won a puck battle and found Carman in the slot for a shot on Gudlevskis. The Crunch goaltender made the initial save, but couldn't cover up the loose puck and Paul Thompson nudged a loose puck over the goal line to give WBS a 1-0 lead.

They made it a two goal lead moments later when Tom Kostopoulos deflected a Philip Samuelsson point shot for his team leading 16th goal of the season. Simon Desores added a second assist on the goal 12:23 into the period to extend the WBS lead to 2-0.

The Crunch picked up the play from there, outshooting the Pens 8-4 in the middle frame, but were unable to get on the scoreboard due in large part to the play in net by Hartzell.  A late penalty by Brendan Mikkelson gave the Crunch an opportunity to get back in the game with 1:18 of power play time to start the 3rd period, but were unable to cash in and make it a one goal game.

The Penguins killed off the Crunch power play to start the third period and Harry Zolnierczyk made it a 3-0 lead shortly after, splitting the defense and going top shelf on Gudlevskis 1:31 into the final frame.

Another forward who had an active game was Denver Manderson, who moved up to center the team's 2nd line tonight with Kostopoulos and Anton Zlobin. Manderson won a loose puck that battle that eventually led to Kostopoulos' goal in the first period and the captain returned the favor, setting up Manderson for his first goal at the AHL level and first as a Penguin to put the Crunch away with 12:09 left in regulation.


Forward Zack Torquato and newly signed defenseman Barry Goers were the healthy scratches. Goers was added via a PTO earlier this week.

Zach Sill had surgery to repair a skate blade cut to his left forearm and is not expected to miss the rest of the season, though there's no clear timetable for his return to the lineup.




WBS scratches: Zach Sill (upper body), Zack Torquato (healthy), Adam Payerl (upper body) and Barry Goers (healthy)


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