Penguins Inch Closer to Playoffs with Shootout Victory, Vokoun Strong In Return Between The Pipes

Friday, April 11, 2014
In Syracuse, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins squeezed past the Crunch 3-2 in a shootout behind a strong performance from goaltender Tomas Vokoun, playing in his first game in over 10 months after the discovery of blood clots removed Vokoun from stopping pucks on the ice.

Vokoun played well in his first game back, stopping all four shooters he faced in the shootout while making 23 saves on 25 shots in 65:00 of work to pick up the win. A sneaky shot from Vladislav Namestnikov and a slap-pass redirect from Jon DiSalvatore - both on the power play - were the only pucks that got past Vokoun tonight. An all-around solid performance for the NHL veteran netminder.

Anton Zlobin and Spencer Machacek scored shootout goals for the Penguins in the win, which should move their magic number to clinch a playoff spot down to one point after both Hershey and Norfolk lost in overtime in their respective games to Binghamton and Providence.

Chuck Kobasew was doing what he does best in the AHL and that's scoring goals. Two more tonight, bringing him to 10 goals in 11 games with the WBS Penguins this season.

One bit of bad news for the Penguins as Brian Dumoulin left the game with an apparent upper body injury after taking a big hit early in the third period behind his own net.

The Penguins return home to face the Binghamton Senators, who are tied with the Pens for first place in the East Division.



Kobasew was at it again, scoring another power play goal on a feed from Andrew Ebbett and giving the Penguins a 1-0 lead 4:46 into the contest.

Brian Dumoulin got the puck over to Ebbett, who went cross ice to Kobasew at the top of the left circle. Kobasew made no mistake about it, winding up a slap shot and blasting one past Crunch net minder Cedric Desjardins high to the glove side.

The goal was Kobasew's 9th goal in his 11th game with the AHL Penguins. Ebbett's assist extended his AHL scoring streak to 12 games. Through the first five or so minutes, it was all Penguins. They led 1-0 and held a 7-1 shot advantage.

Then with 13:16 left in the first frame and the Penguins on the power play, Adam Payerl gets pushed into the netminder and is called for the goaltender interference penalty on a call that always seems to get called wrong. Payerl was clearly shoved into the Crunch netminder from behind.

Anyway, Vladislav Namestnikov tied the game at 1-1 on the ensuing power play, going short side under the blocker on Vokoun from the right circle.

From there the Crunch had the decided edge in play, killing off a P.C Labrie interference minor and tallying their second of the power play goal of the night moments after to take a 2-1 lead on the Pens.

With Carter Rowney off for slashing Jonathan Marchessault, Joey Mormina kept a puck in at the blue line after some pressure from the Crunch and fed it to Marchessault, working the half wall on the power play. Marchessault faked shot and fed Jon DiSalvatore with a well-timed slap-pass, who tipped one past Vokoun with 11:42 left in the first frame to give the Crunch the lead.

The two teams seemed to settle in for the second period, but it was the Penguins re-gaining the edge in play must like at the start of the first period. At one point the Pens outshot the Crunch 8-1 in the middle frame, heavily aided by four straight second period power plays.

The Penguins tied the game on the second of those four power plays and it was Kobasew lighting the lamp for the second time on the night to make it 2-2 with 12:32 left in the middle period.

It seemed just as the Crunch would kill off a penalty, they would be whistled for another. It's not like they were getting the raw end of the deal as most of the calls were textbook penalties - a hold on a guy trying to get to a loose puck, a stick foul and a too many men penalty, etc.

ROSTER NOTES

Tomas Vokoun, re-assigned to the AHL Penguins on a conditioning stint, made his WBS debut tonight against Syracuse in his return to the ice after blood clots were discovered before the season began.


Before the game, the Penguins announced the recall of forward Harry Zolnierczyk.


Bryan Rust made his pro debut tonight, wearing John Curry's #36.


Forwards Andrew Ebbett and Adam Payerl were also re-assigned from Pittsburgh. For Payerl, it was his first two NHL games in his career.


Tom Kostopoulos was the team's veteran scratch. It was the team-captain's first stint as the veteran  scratch.


Zach Sill has begun practicing in a regular jersey as opposed to a red no-contact jersey for injured players skating with the team at practice. Take that as a sign that Sill is still on schedule to return the final weekend of the season to get some games before the postseason.


Jeff Deslauriers is day-to-day with a lower body injury.


Penguins forward prospect Jean-Sebastien Dea has announced he's joining the AHL Penguins on what I expect will be announced as an ATO shortly.


Lines


Zlobin-Ebbett-Kobasew
Machacek-Drazenovic-Payerl

Uher-Rowney-Rust
Farnham-Carman-Leblond


McNeill-Goers
Harrington-Mikkelson

Dumoulin-Ruopp

WBS Scratches: Philip Samuelsson (lower body), Zach Sill (upper body), Nick D'Agostino (healthy), Tom Kostopoulos (veteran), Conor Sheary (ATO), Matia Marcantuoni (ATO), Josh Archibald (ATO), Scott Wilson (ATO).

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