Penguins Come Up Short In Syracuse

Saturday, January 10, 2015
East Division race tightens up with the Penguins' 4th straight loss tonight.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins put forth a better effort tonight through two periods against the Syracuse Crunch, but were overpowered in a third period they started trailing the Crunch 3-2. The Crunch tallied an insurance goal with 5:44 left, before the Penguins tallied a late extra attacker goal to complete the 4-3 final score.

Jayson Megna was the Penguins best player tonight, tallying a pair of 1st period goals and creating consistent offensive chances for much of the night. Jeff Zatkoff kept the Penguins in the game in the third period, as the Pens were out shot 10-1 at one point in the final frame. Zatkoff finished with 25 saves on 29 shots in the loss.

For the Crunch, Johnathan Marchessault led the way with a goal and an assist, while Philippe Paradis, Mike Blunden and Henri Ikonen also tallied goals in the win. Crunch head coach Rob Zettler decided to change goalies between the first and second periods, and rookie Andrei Vasilevskiy came on in relief and stopped 10 of 11 shots to pick up the win.

The Penguins have a week between games, and a rare Friday night off next week before taking to the road for a pair of games in New England starting Saturday night in Worcester against the Sharks.

It was another slow start for the Penguins in the midst of more late lineup changes up front and a missing defenseman. Nick Drazenovic took warmups, but was a late scratch. Reid McNeill left in the first period with a lower body injury, though he did return later in the period and play through the ailment.

The Crunch dominated play early in the opening frame and took a 1-0 lead 4:16 into the contest. Ex-Penguins defenseman Joey Mormina's shot from the point was tipped past Zatkoff by Philippe Paradis. Matthew Corrrente also added an assist on Paradis 8th goal on the season.

The Penguins started sustaining more offensive pressure in the second half of the period and evened things up on a laser of a wrist shot by Megna. Scott Harrington fed Megna a pass he made no mistake from just above the left-wing face-off circle, firing a wrist shot past Gudlevskis with 5:29 left before the first intermission.

Megna wasn't done there, either. Seconds after killing off a Dominik Uher roughing penalty, Alex Boak sent a puck around the dashers and out of the zone up to Megna. Megna did the rest, blowing past a Crunch defender and beating Gudlevskis to give the Pens a 2-1 lead heading into the second period.

The Pens came out for the middle frame with the edge, but it was the Crunch tying things up at 2-2 just 3:29 in. Namestnikov sent a puck to Marchessault, but it was deflected up into the air by a Penguins defender. Somehow, Marchessault met up with the blooping puck as it was coming back down to the ice and batted one out of mid-air past Zatkoff to the top shelf.

The Pens had a power play chance shortly thereafter, but were unsuccessful. From there, the game got chippy. Several post-whistle scrums with all of your usual suspects, including Bobby Farnham, Pierre-Luc Leblond and Joey Mormina.

Late in the period, Zatkoff came out to challenge a Luke Witkowski shot, but came out too far and Mike Blunden tipped his shot in past Zatkoff from atop the crease to give the Crunch the lead back at 3-2. Marchessault added his second point if the period on the play with 5:39 before the second intermission.

The Crunch didn't sit back in the third period, really taking it to the Penguins for the first 15 minutes of the final frame. Zatkoff kept WBS in it until Ikonen got open in the slot and received a nice pass from Joel Vermin before blasting a shot that trickled through Zatkoff with 5:44 left. The Crunch held on from there for the win.

The Penguins loss tonight is their fourth consecutive defeat. Couple that with wins by Hershey and Lehigh Valley and all of a sudden the East Division is up for grabs again. 2nd place Hershey now trails by just one point with three games in hand on the Pens, while the Phantoms are five points out off first place with an astonishing five less games played than the Pens.


1st Period

0:51: WBS - (PP) bench minor, too many men
4:16: SYR - Paradis (8) - Mormina, Corrente
14:31: WBS - Megna (10) - Kostopoulos, Harrington
16:21: WBS - Uher, minor (roughing)
18:38: WBS - Megna (11) - Boak

2nd Period

3:21: SYR - Marchessault (10) - Namestnikov
4:42: SYR - Paradis, minor (roughing)
14:21: SYR - Blunden (10) - Witkowski, Marchessault

3rd Period

14:16: SYR - Ikonen (4) - Vermin, Angelidis
18:52: SYR - (PP) Witkowski, minor (holding the stick)
19:52: WBS - PPG Rowney (2) - Dumoulin, Kostopoulos


Jeff Zatkoff (25 saves - 29 shots) got the start in net for the Penguins tonight, with rookie Mat tMurray backing him up.

On defense, Alex Boak was in for Nick D'Agostino.

Up front, Nick Drazenovic took warmups but was a late scratch. Sahir Gill didn't participate in line rushes during the warmup but found himself in the lineup as Drazenovic must have had some lingering issues from last night's physical game against Norfolk.

Scratches: Nick Drazenovic (injured), Anton Zlobin (injured), Nick D'Agostino (healthy) and Adam Payerl (injured)


Tom Kostopoulos - Conor Sheary - Jayson Megna
Sahir Gill - Carter Rowney - Dominik Uher
Tom Kuhnhackl - Matia Marcantuoni - Josh Archibald
Pierre-Luc Leblond - J-S Dea - Bobby Farnham

Brian Dumoulin - Taylor Chorney
Reid McNeill - Barry Goers
Scott Harrington - Alex Boak

Jeff Zatkoff - Matt Murray


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