MINARD POWERS PENS PAST TORONTO, 5-2
WILKES-BARRE, PA - Chris Minard notched a pair of third period power play goals to lead the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to a 5-2 win against the Toronto Marlies at the Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza on Saturday night. The win upped the Pens’ record to 45-24-2-2 on the season, and puts the team’s magic number for clinching a seventh consecutive playoff appearance at two points over the Philadelphia Phantoms.
Minard had the best outing of his AHL career on Saturday, picking up four points (2+2) on the night and setting new personal highs for goals (34) and points (53) in a season. His first goal also turned out to be the game-winning tally - his eighth of the season, which ties Kurtis McLean’s single season team record.
“When our power play’s going, I think the rest of our team builds off it, and we start playing a little better,” said Minard, whose 21 power play goals this season ate tied with Hershey’s Alexandre Giroux for the top spot in the league. “The second period we turned the puck over way too much, and we didn’t get behind their D in their zone, and we got away from our style of game. We just knew we had to do that in the third period.”
The Marlies entered the third period with some momentum after overcoming a pair of one goal deficits to make the score 2-2. Toronto’s second goal came off a Justin Williams deflection at the far side of the cage with just 51 seconds left in the middle frame, which took some of the wind out of the Penguins sails.
But Minard quickly turned things around, redirecting a Jeff Taffe pass in the slot at 2:09 before beating goaltender Jeff Reimer six minutes later to give the Pens their first two-goal lead of the night.
“Both great plays and nice passes. Taffe on the first one, I just one-touched it. I don’t know if the goalie really moved,” said Minard. “[Alex Goligoski] made an unbelievable move on the power play there with a good fake to get that guy to fall down, and then sweep it over. It was nice.”
Miroslav Satan opened the scoring with his first home goal with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, drawing an incredible reaction from the sold out crowd of 8,242. The former NHL all-star swept in during a goal mouth scramble and backhanded home his second of the season at 13:34.
“Coach [Todd Reirden] told everybody before the game to go in front of the net, that’s where the goals are scored. It worked out.” said Satan.
The Penguins dominated the first period, outshooting the Marlies 18-5, but could only get the one puck past Reimer, who was making just his third appearance between the pipes for Toronto this season.
Stefano Giliati tied the game eight minutes into the second, taking a blue line to blue line pass as time expired on a Deryk Engelland penalty and snapping a shot over John Curry’s glove hand.
Nick Johnson, who has 11 points in his past 14 games, put the home club back in front at 14:35. Joey Mormina’s clearing attempt deflected off the boards and bounced right to Johnson at center ice, who then beat two defenders and the netminder for his 13th goal of the year.
Williams tied it late in the second before Minard busted out in the third. Connor James finished off the night with an empty net goal, set up by none other than Minard.
John Curry made 26 saves on the night to tie the team record for wins in a season with his 30th of the year.