PENGUINS BACK IN PLAYOFF PICTURE WITH 2-1 WIN OVER ADMIRALS
WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP, Pa. – Nick Johnson scored a power play goal late in the first period, and had it stand up as the game-winner as the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins defeated the Norfolk Admirals by a 2-1 score on Wednesday night at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
The Penguins would use a portion of their checking line to open the scoring. Chris Conner was able to get possession off of a Chris Lee dump-in behind the Admirals goal. Norfolk defenseman Vladimir Mihalik had trouble defending Jesse Boulerice who was helping Conner get possession. Mihalik coughed up the puck and Boulerice promptly stuffed a wraparound shot inside the left post and behind Norfolk goaltender Dustin Tokarski at 4:23 of the first period. The goal was Boulerice’s fourth of the season.
19-year-old Norfolk rookie Carter Ashton, making his AHL debut, would then take a hooking penalty with 7:01 remaining in the opening period. The Penguins responded just 20 seconds later when rookie Joey Haddad’s shot from the slot was blocked away by Tokarski off the chest of Johnson. The Penguins right winger would stuff home the rebound from the net front for his 13th goal of the season. The Penguins took the 2-0 advantage to the locker room, outshooting Norfolk 13-12.
A scoreless second period featured the Admirals holding the Penguins to a season-low two shots on goal, and did it by earning four power play opportunities. But Thiessen and the Penguins defense turned everything aside, including a power play given when Boulerice took a punch at Admirals forward Juraj Simek on the left half boards. Norfolk’s Mitch Fritz would retaliate by taking Ben Lovejoy down with a clothesline maneuver at the period’s final horn. A punch to the face of Steve Wagner would earn Fritz a four-minute roughing penalty and the rest of the night off.
The Penguins could not score on the extended power play to start the third, and had to kill off two more late power plays to seal the win. The game still would not end peacefully as a melee was touched off at 19:45 when Chris Conner became involved in a shoving match with Norfolk’s Matt Lashoff behind the Admirals goal. The Penguins were going to be called for having too many men on the ice when the battle ensued. The hosts were able to block a Simek shot off the faceoff with four seconds left, and then clear the zone at the final horn.
Thiessen stopped 29 shots to improve to 8-11-1. Tokarski was beaten by the Penguins for the second consecutive time, making 23 saves and falling to 22-18-3. The Penguins went 8-for-8 on the penalty kill, tying a season high for the third time, and ended 1-for-6 on the power play.
The Penguins pulled even with the idle Bridgeport Sound Tigers, who are in fifth place in the Atlantic Division, as both teams now have 73 points in 68 games played. The Penguins also pulled just one point behind Norfolk for third place in the East Division, and still have one game in hand with three more games to be played in Virginia.
he Penguins are home again this Friday, March 19th for a 7:05 PM faceoff against the Springfield Falcons. The first 5,000 fans through the gates will take home one of the last in this year’s series of game-worn jersey cards. Tickets can be purchased at the Mohegan Sun Arena box office, through any Ticketmaster outlet, or by calling toll-free 1-800-745-3000.
NOTES: The Penguins improved to 10-0-0-0 when allowing the opposition one goal… G Brad Thiessen won his first-ever start against the Admirals… The Penguins extended their home points streak to eight games with the win, as they improved to 7-0-0-1 in that span… The Penguins are still the only undefeated team in regulation when outshot at home (6-0-0-1)… The Penguins improved to 3-3-1-0 all-time on St. Patrick’s Day.