Penguins Open Postseason With 5-1 Win Over Syracuse

Friday, April 24, 2015
Syracuse Crunch backup goaltender Adam Wilcox was pressed into action 7:43 into the second period and could be the team's starting netminder in Game Two Saturday night. Photo courtesy @ItsJacki.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins started off the postseason with a bang, scoring three goals in a span of 1:40 early in the second period to break open the first game of the best-of-five series with the Syracuse Crunch en route to a 5-1 win and a 1-0 series lead.

Kasperi Kapanen had a big night for the Penguins, tallying two of those three 2nd period goals and really looking confident with the puck on his stick - something he wasn't showing in his final three regular season games (pointless, -2).

The Pens' third line of Dominik Uher, Carter Rowney and Tom Kuhnhackl continued to be a strong line for the home team, opening the scoring late in the first period and combining for two goals and four assists on the night.

For the Crunch, it was an evenly played game through much of the first period but the general consensus from the visiting team's locker room was that the Penguins played just the kind of game they expected and as a team they need to be much better in their own zone in Game Two tomorrow night.


Slater Koekkoek on the defensive effort:
I thought we were loose in D-Zone coverage and we ultimately paid for it in the end.

Koekkoek on the three goals allowed in 1:40:
I'm not sure. I think once one goes in, everybody kind of gets down and we can't be doing that. We have to bounce back the next shift and we didn't do that.
Koekkoek on Kasperi Kapanen:
He's a great player. He had two on us tonight, so obviously we have to key in on him tomorrow and do a better job against that line.
Dylan Blujus on general feeling of the room:
It's never good to lose Game One, but you know the series is never won or lost in one game of the playoffs.
Blujus on Kapanen:
We had our sheet on him and knew he was a pretty skilled guy. I don't think we saw him during the season, but he's a good player and a quick player and we have to notice that next game.
Syracuse Coach Rob Zettler:
I thought our communication between our D and the low forward got really scrambly. They moved the puck around a little bit and we started chasing it and leaving guys wide open. We have to tighten up that. I thought they cycled the puck real well and we had trouble with that.
Zettler on if WBS brought anything different/unexpected:
No, they played the game that they play. They played a good game, puck control game but it was nothing that I didn't expect.
 Zettler on biggest changes heading into tomorrow's Game Two:
I think just be able to seal the guys down low and not allowing so much control of the puck in our zone. I thought they had the puck on their stick in our zone and we need to be a little firmer in our zone.
 Zettler on Kasperi Kapanen:
He's a skilled player, without a doubt. He's got good quickness, good in tight spaces and obviously he's got a heck of a shot. He gives that team some skill that I'm sure a lot of teams would like.

The Syracuse Crunch had the jump on the opening shifts of the contest, jumping out to the game's first three shots and first power play of the evening after Reid McNeill tripped up Ryan Martindale as the Crunch forward was entering the offensive zone.

The Pens killed off McNeill's minor and seemed to take control of the opening frame from there, taking a 1-0 lead with 3:08 left before the first intermission after several flurries of offensive pressure. Carter Rowney got a puck to Tom Kuhnhackl behind the net, and Kuhnhackl made a nice move along the boards against a Crunch defender to spring himself free. Kuhnhackl found Dominik Uher in the slot and fed a perfect pass to Uher for a quick snap shot that beat Kirsters Gudlevskis.

W-B/Scranton continued to pour it on late in the first period, but credit Gudlevskis with some big stops - namely a pair of saves on Conor Sheary and Tom Kostopoulos on a 2-on-1 chance - to keep it at a 1-0 game heading to the middle frame.

The Penguins picked up right where they left off at the end of the first, getting consistent pressure and opening the game up with three goals in 100 seconds.

On the first goal of the trio, Jayson Megna got the puck to an open Kasperi Kapanen just inside the right-wing face-off cirlce and Kapanen made no mistake about it, firing one bar down to put the Pens ahead 2-0.

Just 31 seconds later, Barry Goers faked a shot from the point and went cross-ice to Rowney for a one-timer from the left circle to make it a 3-0 game. The Crunch took their timeout following the third goal of the night, but Kapanen scored on a rebound of a Goers shot 1:09 after that to make it a 4-0 Penguins lead.

Frustration started to show on the Crunch bench, as the game took a turn for physical, chippy play but the road team didn't pack it in down 4-0 to the league's top defensive team. Syracuse was arguably the better team in the final eight to ten minutes of the middle frame, generating offensive zone time and getting on the board with 6:00 left before the 2nd intermission on a goal by Matthew Peca from Mike Angelidis similar to the goal Uher scored in the 1st period to open the scoring.

Matt Murray had some adventures behind his net, twice losing control of the puck and nearly giving up empty net goals - but luckily for the Pens they avoided danger and took the 4-1 lead to the final frame.

The Penguins weathered the storm in the third period and tacked on a 5th goal to cap the scoring at 5-1 on a point shot through traffic by Danny Syvret.


Matt Murray (22 saves - 23 shots) got the start in net tonight for the Penguins, with veteran Jeff Zatkoff serving as the team's backup.

Reid McNeill returned to the Penguins' blue line for his first game since March 6th.

Ryan Parent made his WBS debut on the back end and Scott Harrington was in the lineup after being re-assigned from Pittsburgh on Thursday.

With Pittsburgh eliminated from postseason contention in the NHL, expect forward Scott Wilson and defensemen Taylor Chorney, Brian Dumoulin and Derrick Pouliot to be re-assigned to W-B/Scranton. The game was still going on after the AHL Pens game had ended, so nobody knew to ask if any of those four players will be in the lineup for Game Two tomorrow night.

WBS Scratches

Injured - Nick Drazenovic, Bryan Rust and Anton Zlobin
Healthy - Tristan Jarry, Sean Escobedo, Alex Boak, Jean-Sebastien Dea, Adam  Payerl, Clark Seymour and Steven Shamanski


Conor Sheary - Andrew Ebbett - Tom Kostopoulos
Josh Archibald - Jayson Megna - Kasperi Kapanen
Dominik Uher - Carter Rowney - Tom Kuhnhackl
Bobby Farnham - Matia Marcantuoni - Pierre-Luc Leblond

Scott Harrington - Barry Goers
Nick D'Agostino - Reid McNeill
Danny Syvret - Ryan Parent

Matt Murray - Jeff Zatkoff


Kirsters Gudlevskis (16 saves - 20 shots) got the start in net for Syracuse, with Adam Wilcox backing him up. Wilcox was pressed into action 7:43 into the 2nd period and stopped 14 of the 15 shots he faced.

SYR Scratches: Dan Milan, Brayden Point, Kevin Lynch, Justin Courtnall, David Broll, Mike Blunden, Cameron Darcy, Eric Neilson, Charlie Dodero and Phillippe Paradis


Mike Angelidis - Ryan Martindale - Jonathan Marchessault
Yanni Gourde - Tanner Richard - Carter Ashton
Henri Ikonen - Matthew Peca - Joel Vermin
Dalton Smith - Cody Kunyk

Slater Koekkoek - Luke Witkowski
Jean-Phillipe Cote - Dylan Blujus
Joey Mormina - Jake Dotchin
Jared Nightingale

Kirsters Gudlevskis - Adam Wilcox


1st Period

6:31: WBS - (PP) McNeill, minor (tripping)
16:52: WBS - Uher (1) - Kuhnhackl, Rowney

2nd Period

6:03: WBS - Kapanen (1) - Megna
6:34: WBS - Rowney (1) - Goers, Uher
7:43: WBS - Kapanen (2) - Goers, Megna
14:00: SYR - Peca (1) - Angelidis, Vermin
19:41: SYR - (PP) Cote, minor (roughing)

3rd Period

8:07: SYR - (PP) Koekkoek, minor (holding)
12:32: WBS - Syvret (1) - Rowney, Sheary
13:00: SYR - (PP) Angelidis, minor (unsportsmanlike)
13:12: WBS - (PP) Kostopoulos, minor (goaltender interference)
17:20: SYR - (PP) Richard, minor (boarding)
17:20: SYR - Gourde, ten-minute misconduct
17:20: WBS - Farnham, ten-minute misconduct


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