Penguins Shutout By Crunch, Lindback Shines in Return to AHL

Friday, February 28, 2014
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins fell behind early and couldn't get one past Syracuse Crunch goaltender Anders Lindback as the Crunch shut out the Penguins 4-0.

Lindback, on a conditioning stint from the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning, showed why he hasn't played in the AHL since the 2011-12 season with Milwaukee, stopping all 30 shots he faced to pick up the shutout.

"The best part about [Lindback's] game tonight was puck handling in the way he gets out of the net and handles the puck. He calmed everything down for us, especially in the third period," Crunch head coach Rob Zettler said, who added he plans to start Cedric Desjardins in net tomorrow and go back to Lindback on Sunday.

Big win for the Crunch, who have now won three in a row and look to join the race for the postseason. The Penguins loss sets up a big Saturday evening game in Atlantic City against the Albany Devils.

In a first period which showcased good end to end action with a good flow to the game, the Crunch took a 1-0 lead 2:02 into the game after Richard Panik won a puck battle along the boards and fed it to the middle for Tanner Richard to collect. Richard went top shelf on Deslauriers off a mini-breakaway to give the home team an early lead.

The Penguins got plenty of chances in the first frame, outshooting the Crunch 11-6 through the first 20 minutes, but were unable to get anything past the recently re-assigned Lindback, down with the Crunch from Tampa Bay on a conditioning stint.

Reid McNeill had an active first period, lining up some Crunch players for big hits along the boards, and he lined up Evan Rankin in the final minute of the first frame with a big hit. Unfortunately for McNeill and the Pens, the Crunch scored off a sort of broken play as Matt Taormina got credit for his 5th of the season on the play, putting the Crunch up 2-0 with 41.5 left in the period.

Panik picked up his second assist of the period and Richard picked up a secondary assist on the play, which appeared to be offsides. The goal counted and put the Pens in a early 2-0 hole.

The Crunch tacked on two more goals in the second period, extending their lead to 4-0.

The bad puck luck for the Penguins continued as a puck bounced in past Deslauriers off the body of Mike Carman in front to give the Crunch a 3-0 lead, chasing Deslauriers from the game 5:23 into the 2nd period. Peter Mannino came on in relief of Deslauriers, who stopped five of the eight shots he saw in 25:23 of work. Mannino finished with 18 saves on 19 shots.

The Crunch continued to out-work the Penguins, making it 4-0 just 1:27 later on a play that started behind the WBS net. Drew Olson got the Crunch's 4th goal of the night on an assist from Evan Rankin and Max Parent.

No goals were scored in the third and the Crunch cruised to a 4-0 win. Crunch head coach Rob Zettler talked about the win post-game, mentioning the old saying "take it one game at a time."

"They're battling for a playoff spot," Zettler said of the Penguins, adding "we are battling for our lives as well. They have three really good lines that could puck in the net, but overall we did a pretty decent job of holding them off."


The Penguins re-assigned goaltender Eric Hartzell as well as forwards Tom Kuhnhackl and Anton Zlobin to the Wheeling Nailers, who are in Elmira New York tonight against the Jackals. Peter Mannino was recalled to back up Jeff Deslauriers.

The Nailers are back in PA next Friday when they travel to Reading, so the trio could easily be back by next weekend if that is indeed the plan. Both Kuhnhackl and Zlobin have been often scratched lately and will get some much needed playing time in the ECHL.

The only other lineup change was on defense as Harrison Ruopp returned to the WBS lineup after being a healthy scratch in the team's last five games. He took the spot of Barry Goers, who was a healthy scratch tonight.


Uher - Ebbett - Machacek
Zolnierczyk - Drazenovic - Kostopoulos
Payerl - Manderson - Megna
Farnham - Carman - Leblond

Samuelsson - McNeill
Harrington - Mikkelson
D'Agostino - Ruopp


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