#WBSPens Secondary Scoring Search

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins trailed 3-2 after two periods to the Hartford Wolfpack last night and were held to only eight registered shots on goal. I'm sure the message in the locker room from the coaching staff during the second intermission had something to do with getting pucks to the net. Three goals and 17 shots later, the Penguins third period magic returned as they finished the weekend with back-to-back wins to move within one point of East Divison leading Binghamton.

Although the Penguins top line, which has been carrying the offensive load lately, was held off the scoresheet last night, the Penguins might have found some guys that are looking to provide that secondary scoring touch, namely 2nd year forward Dominik Uher and rookie forwards Anton Zlobin and Tom Kuhnhackl, who combined for four goals in last night's 5-3 win over Hartford.

They came out energized in front of season-high crowd of 8,188 people, opening the scoring 5:32 into contest on a shorthanded goal by Dominik Uher, who this week removed the full cage he was wearing and is now playing with the regular visor. 

The goal was Uher's 4th this season in his 30th game played, matching his goal total in 53 games from his rookie season last year. Uher took a puck up high on Thanksgiving Eve against the Adirondack Phantoms. He has since returned now that he has full cage off, Uher will look to get back on track. 

Anton Zlobin is an interesting prospect in the Penguins forward pool. Last night was his first two goal performance at the AHL level and the Pens will continue to look his way for some secondary scoring as the season approaches the midway point.

Zlobin had an offseason surgery and missed the Penguins' annual development camp, as well as the rookie camp/tournament in London. He had limited practice sessions in WBS Penguins training camp and upon being cleared to play, was re-assigned to the Pens ECHL affiliate Wheeling Nailers shortly after making his AHL debut against the Springfield Falcons on November 10th.

While with the Nailers, Zlobin got his legs under him and flourished offensively tallying nine points (4G-5A) in nine games. Upon being recalled by the AHL Penguins on December 2nd amidst all the injuries in the organization, the rookie forward was almost immediately inserted into a top-six role. Zlobin has been getting acclimated to the pro game while in the AHL with the Pens and has continued to look more confident with each passing game played. In 17 games, Zlobin has tallied seven points (4G-3A).

Zlobin has formed a nice duo in the last few games with another forward prospect in the organization in Tom Kuhnhackl, who is also considered a rookie despite playing in 11 games last season before a season ending shoulder injury forced him to miss most of his first pro season. Kuhnhackl got off to a slow start this season, playing after a lengthy absence, but if the last few games are any indication, Kuhnahckl is coming around and at a critical time.

It has been a work in progress at times for Kuhnhackl, who was seeing regular time in the bottom-six and an occasional healthy scratch, but the injuries/call ups have given Kuhnhackl an extended look in a scoring role the past few weeks. Kuhnhackl's third period game-winning goal last night was as good a reminder as any that he can put the puck in the net and is just as dangerous in the slot as from the wing. Last night's goal was his 8th of the season in 35 games played, quietly moving him into third among active players on the team in goals.

With the injuries continuing to pile on in Pittsburgh, most notably Brian Gibbons lower body injury suffered last night against the Calgary Flames, the AHL Penguins will continue to need timely scoring from their second and third lines to continue to be successful and keep pace in the division. Guys mentioned above, in addition to other forwards such as Paul Thompson, Mike Carman and Zack Torquato will need to pick up the slack offensively.


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