The Charlotte Checkers finished the regular season with the third-ranked power play in the American Hockey League. So giving them seven chances on the man advantage on Friday night was bound to come back and haunt the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Charlotte’s Valentin Zykov, who had 17 power play goals during the regular season, tallied on his team’s sixth opportunity last night to force overtime, where the Checkers won the game, 3-2.
Head coach Clark Donatelli knows the Pens can’t afford a repeat of the penalty box parade tonight.
“We’ve got to be disciplined and stay out of the box,” he said. “They have a really good power play. That gave them momentum and was the difference in the game. Five-on-five, I like our chances.”
The winning tally came 3:18 into overtime, as the Checkers swarmed the crease in front of goaltender Tristan Jarry. The Penguins protested at the time, saying that Zykov interfered with the netminder on Lucas Wallmark’s winner.
Donatelli isn’t dwelling on the end of the game, though.
“It doesn’t matter. It is what it is,” he said. “We were pinned in the zone for a minute there, and we should have had the puck out.”
No one is panicking after the first game according to the Penguins head coach.
“It’s a series, this is not one game,” said Donatelli. “We didn’t think we were going to come in here and sweep anyways. It’s another game [Saturday] and then we’ll take it one game at a time.
“It’s been close all year, all the games we’ve played against them. And we assume it’s going to be close again [Saturday].”
The Penguins and Checkers face off in Game Two at 6:00pm on Saturday night, before the series heads to Wilkes-Barre for Game Three on Thursday evening at 7:05pm.
Calder Cup Playoff ticket packages (which include a $6 voucher good for food or merchandise for each game), as well as individual game playoff tickets, are on sale now through the Penguins front office. Get yours by calling 570-208-7367, or fill in the form before to request more info from a Penguins representative.