LETESTU, PESONEN LEAD PENS TO COMEBACK WIN
WILKES-BARRE, PA – Goaltender Nolan Schaefer was credited with no time on ice during Saturday night’s game between the Penguins and Houston Aeros, but still saw his record end lower than when the night started.
Schaefer replaced teammate Barry Brust between the pipes as the contest’s shootout session began, and suffered the loss as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton posted a 3-2 come-from-behind win at the Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza.
The win raised the Pens record to 22-12-1-1 on the season, while Houston dipped to 17-14-1-6.
Brust stopped 30 of 32 shots through regulation and overtime, but gave way to Schaefer, the former Penguins goalie, after overtime. It’s the third time this season Houston has pulled the switcheroo, after Brust stopped just two of 12 shootout attempts to start the season. The Aeros are now 1-2 in games where Schaefer has stepped in.
Mark Letestu and Janne Pesonen provided all of the offense, with each scoring in regulation and in the shootout, as the Penguins recovered from a 3-2 loss the previous night in Albany.
There were fireworks from the get-go, with a pair of fights featuring Wilkes-Barre/Scranton heavyweights Paul Bissonnette and Aaron Boogaard taking place within the first two seconds of play.
And while the Pens pugilists handled their business early on, it was Houston who took the first round of play. The Aeros limited the Penguins to just two shots over the first 20 minutes, and took a 1-0 lead on Danny Irmen’s fourth goal of the season at 13:19.
Jesse Schultz upped the lead to 2-0 just 40 seconds into the second period with a deflection off of Bill Thomas’ skate.
The Pens turned on the offense in the second period, peppering Brust with 17 shots. Letestu made one of those count, redirecting a Jean-Michel Daoust feed past the Houston netmider less than two minutes after the Schultz goal to pull the Penguins back to within one goal.
That score held until the midway point of the third period, when Janne Pesonen picked up a Jeff Taffe feed at the right faceoff circle. Pesonen turned and quickly fired, beating Brust far side for his 10th tally of the season to tie the score.
There were plenty of opportunities for both clubs as time wound down, with referee Nygel Pelletier calling three penalties in the final six minutes of regulation, then adding two more in the extra frame.
Neither team could capitalize though, and it took the shootout to decide the winner. Schaefer stopped Taffe’s first attempt, before allowing goals to Pesonen and Letestu on the Penguins’ second and third attempts. Maxim Noreau proved to be the only Houston skater who could beat John Curry, who stopped 19 shots in regulation and overtime to record his ninth win of the season.