CURRY SETS SINGLE SEASON WIN MARK IN 1-0 SHUTOUT AGAINST HERSHEY
HERSHEY, PA - John Curry made 31 saves to record his fourth shutout of the season, as the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins posted a 1-0 win on Sunday evening in Hershey. With the win, the Penguins clinched a seventh consecutive appearance in the Calder Cup Playoffs, and the eighth postseason trip in the franchise's 10 year history.
Curry also set a new franchise record by winning his 31st game of the season. Dany Sabourin set the previous mark of 30 victories during the 2005-06 season.
"When all the chips are down, this is the guy that stands up for you," said head coach todd Reirden.
And tonight, he meant it literally.
Reirden was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct minor late in the third period 45 seconds after Miroslav Satan was whistled for goaltender interference. That gave Hershey a two-man-advantage for more than a minute, and a fantastic opportunity to even the score.
"That’s my job, within the game, to stand up for our guys," said Reirden, who was clearly upset with several calls or non-calls - on the evening. "I was trying to swing things in our favor a little bit. [Referee Ghislain Hebert] didn’t take a liking to it."
Things didn't get any easier as the extended advantage got underway. Joey Mormina saw his stick snap just as the puck was dropped for the faceoff. Connor James donated his stick to the defender, but that left the Penguins captain to go it without any lumber for nearly a minute as Hershey controlled play.
"Our penalty kill has been a strength for us and has stepped up all year when we needed it to. That’s something we take a lot of pride in," said Dustin Jeffrey, one of the key contributors to the special teams unit. "We were lucky we got out of that. Curry made a big save there on [Alexandre] Giroux on that one-timer, and that really helped."
"The momentum certainly wasn’t going our way at that point, but we made a couple of huge plays during that PK and got a puck out of the zone once," Curry said. "Just to get through that down the stretch with the power play like they have is huge, and it’s a huge momentum boost to carry us to the end of the game."
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton killed off all six Bears power plays they faced, and have now stopped 41 of the past 46 man advantages going back to March 13.
"Outstanding penalty killing," said Reirden. "All of our penalty killers, we used a lot of different guys tonight on our defensive corps, they all did a phenomenal job killing penalties tonight."
Jeffrey, who had missed the previous three games due to injury, netted the lone goal late in the first period, taking a pass from Chris Minard behind the net and beating Simeon Varlamov from close range.
The win moved the Penguins ahead of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the East Division standings. Both teams now have 96 points, but the Sound Tigers have played one more game than the Pens. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton now trails Hershey by five points in the race for the division crown. Both teams have six games remaining in the regular season.