Penguins Shutout Phantoms To Clinch 13th Straight Postseason Berth

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Kasperi Kapanen made a near immediate impact in his North American pro debut tonight with the AHL Penguins.
For the 13th straight year, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins will be participating in the Calder Cup Playoffs. They clinched their 2015 postseason berth tonight with a 3-0 win over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, another shutout for rookie sensation Matt Murray (his 12th) - one away from tying the AHL record for most shutouts by a goaltender in a season.

Kasperi Kapanen was as good as advertised in his North American pro debut - scoring on his second shift in the AHL on his first shot, and also setting up Tom Kuhnhackl for a power play re-direct goal in the third. Kapanen finished with a goal and an assist and was named the game's first star for his efforts.

The AHL had this clip of Kapanen's goal 4:43 into the first period.

Kuhnhackl capped the scoring on a good hustle play after missing an empty net bid with the Penguins shorthanded in the final two minutes. It was Kuhnhackl's first two-goal game since October of 2013.

After the jump, some post-game reactions from Phantoms defensemen Mark Alt and Robert Hagg and head coach Terry Murray.

Mark Alt on Penguins shutting things down again:
It was pretty similar to the game we had in Wilkes-Barre. They come out fast right away, get up on us a goal or two and then they're good defensively.
Alt on defending Kasperi Kapanen:
He's good with the puck. Obviously in his first game and he got his first goal on his first shot. It was pretty impressive. He's a good player, really good with the puck. I have never seen anything on him before, so it was interesting to play against him. 
Robert Hagg on defending Kapanen:
He's a skilled guy. He had what a goal and an assist tonight.? You don't notice special guys out there, when I play at least. Of course, he's a talented guy. He was born in 96 - a year younger than me. He's got a lot of potential. It's fun to play against those guys. 
Terry Murray comparing tonight to last game vs. WBS:
I liked tonight a lot better than what it was in Wilkes-Barre. I thought we competed. We had some better play in the offensive zone. Overall, it was a better-focused effort.

It didn't take long for Kasperi Kapanen to make his presence felt in his North American pro debut. On his second shift, he stole a puck in the offensive zone and did the rest - dangling past a defenseman and put a laser of a wrist shot past Rob Zepp 4:43 into play to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.

From there the Phantoms got to their game, having several sequences of pressure but unable to get one past Pens' goaltender Matt Murray - who made some impressive stops on rebound attempts at point blank range to keep the Pens in front.

The Phantoms got into penalty trouble late in the period as two penalties 1:15 apart gave the Pens some 5-on-3 power play time to start the middle frame, though in the final seconds of the first period Scott Laughton nearly scored shorthanded.

Lehigh Valley killed off the penalties to start the middle frame and seemed to get back to forcing the issue, but again Murray was up to the task. The Phantoms' season-long discipline issues continued midway through the 2nd frame after Jay Rosehill connected an elbow to Matia Marcantuoni's head - causing the Phantoms to head to a 4-minute penalty kill.

It wasn't until there was nine seconds left on the double-minor by Rosehill that the Pens extended their lead to 2-0. Kapanen was set up along the half wall on the power play and his slap-pass intended for Tom Kuhnhackl was re-directed past Zepp by the Pens' German-born forward to put WBS up 2-0 with 3:35 left before the second intermission.

The Penguins played exactly how you would expect with a lead in the third period, clogging up the neutral zone and forcing the Phantoms to the outside. Murray was there every time he was needed and that's all she wrote.

Kuhnhackl tallied an empty net goal with 1:50 left to seal the Penguins' ticket to the postseason.


Rob Zepp (29 saves - 31 shots) got the start in net for the Phantoms tonight against W-B/Scranton. Anthony Stolarz served as Zepp's backup goaltender.

A normal lineup for Lehigh Valley tonight with a full compliment of 12 forwards and six defensemen.

Jay Rosehill (three games) and Derek Mathers (one game) returned to the lineup after serving their respective suspensions.

Austin Fyten (lower body) and Kevin Goumas (upper body) remained out of the lineup.

Scratches: Austin Fyten (lower body), Shayne Gostisbehere (ACL injury), Kevin Goumas (upper body), Darroll Powe (concussion symptoms) and Nick Luukko (healthy)


Taylor Leier - Scott Laughton - Andrew Gordon
Jason Akeson - Blair Jones - Brett Hextall
Petr Straka - Cole Bardreau - Zack Stortini
Jay Rosehill - Andrew Johnston - Derek Mathers

Robert Hagg - Steven Delisle
Adam Comrie - Mark Alt
Oliver Lauridsen - Jesper Pettersson

Rob Zepp - Anthony Stolarz


1st Period

4:43: WBS - Kapanen (1) - unassisted
18:29: LV - (PP) Stortini, minor (tripping)
19:44: LV - (PP) Jones, minor (cross-checking)

2nd Period

6:25: LV - Lauridsen, minor (roughing)
6:25: WBS - Seymour, minor (roughing)
9:26: LV - Lauridsen, major (fighting)
9:26: WBS - Seymour, major (fighting)
12:34: LV - (PP) Rosehill, minor (elbowing)
12:34: LV - (PP) Rosehill, minor (unsportsmanlike)
16:25: WBS - PPG Kuhnhackl (8) - Kapanen, Syvret
19:15: LV - Stortini, minor (roughing)
19:15: WBS - Boak, minor (roughing)

3rd Period

9:08: LV - (PP) Rosehill, minor (holding)
10:19: WBS - (PP) Kostopoulos, minor (goaltender interference)
16:19: WBS - (PP) Syvret, minor (tripping)
18:10: WBS - ENG Kuhnhackl (9) - unassisted


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