CURRY CRUISES TO 5-0 WIN OVER ADMIRALS
WILKES-BARRE, PA - John Curry stopped all 32 pucks he saw, Jean-Michel Daoust tallied twice, and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins cruised to a 5-0 win against the Norfolk Admirals on Sunday evening at the Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza. The win was the fifth in a row for the Penguins (32-16-1-2), equaling the club's season high for consecutive wins this year (Dec. 20-30).
The Admirals fell to 19-24-2-5 with the loss, and fell to 1-3-0-0 against the Penguins in the season series.
The Penguins held a distinct advantage even before the game started, having had a rare Saturday off while the Admirals played a home contest against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The rest, coupled with late overnight travel for the visitors, played to the Pens' favor.
"Looking at the schedule, looking at their travel, you could guess this was a game where if we could come out and push the pace and play at a high tempo, and force them to have to deal with our speed and play in the defensive zone, you could maybe wear them down," said head coach Dan Bylsma.
Both teams looked a bit sluggish at the start, as the game remained scoreless until late in the first period, despite Norfolk having three consecutive power plays in the first 12 minutes.
“To their credit, they came out and the first period was pretty even, they had a couple of power plays early and those kills were a huge part of the game,” commented Bylsma. “They get a goal there, they get a lead, it can change the story. So the killers did a great job there.”
From there on out, things were decisively to the home team’s favor.
Dustin Jeffrey took full advantage of the Penguins first power play of the game, picking up the rebound off a Jon D'Aversa point shot to poke home his sixth goal of the season at 16:56 to give Wilkes-Barre/Scranton the 1-0 lead.
The lead was stretched to two goals just 11 seconds later, as Jeff Taffe hit Daoust with a cross-ice feed that the speedy winger one-timed past Riku Helenius, ending a 10-game goal drought.
The recently formed tandem of Taffe and Daoust wasn't done just yet though. Midway through the second period, Taffe took a pass in the slot and dug it out of his skates before throwing a no-look pass to Daoust, who was trailing on the right side. His quick wrister flew by the Norfolk netminder for his second goal of the evening and eighth of the season at 10:14.
"I think you can roll any of these lines, play anybody. I think everybody’s kind of used to each other these days,” said Taffe, who teamed with Chris Minard and Janne Pesonen to create one of the most feared lines in the AHL to start the season, but recently has seen an influx of different linemates due to recalls. “The last few nights [scoring] has been really spread out. I think early in the season we might not have been able to say that. Everybody’s playing great hockey right now, not trying to do too much and do it themselves. That’s how we’re going to be successful."
The Pens continued the onslaught a minute later, as Mark Letestu split two defenders, then picked up his own rebound to rack up his 14th goal of the season, and sixth in the past 10 games.
Letestu then set up the final goal of the evening, sending a pass from the right wall to a breaking Pesonen in the slot. Pesonen redirected the feed for his 15th goal of the season at 15:24 of the third period.
The win was the eighth in a row for Curry, equalling his career best for his consecutive victories (March 2-19, 2008). It was also his third shutout of the season, tying his total from last season and moving him into third place on the team's all-time list (Sebastien Caron -10, Andy Chiodo - 7).
NOTES: Bryan Ewing made his AHL debut after being recalled by the Penguins from Wheeling earlier in the day...Alex Goligoski made his first appearance with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season after being assigned to the team from Pittsburgh on Saturday. The former AHL All-Star picked up one assist in the game...Tyler Sims relieved netminder Riku Helenius midway through the third period, making his AHL debut in the process. Sims is the son of former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton assistant coach, Al Sims.