PENGUINS COME UP SHORTY IN PHILLY, 2-1
PHILADELPHIA, PA – The Penguins have been on a roll in December, posting a 5-1-0-0 mark prior to Sunday evening. The only loss in that time? A 4-1 defeat at the hand of the Philadelphia Phantoms.
The intrastate rivals proved to pose a problem once again, posting a 2-1 win at the Spectrum on Sunday.
The loss was the Penguins’ third straight to the Phantoms, and snapped a three game winning streak. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton fell to 16-11-1-1 on the year, and saw Philly (17-11-0-0) leap frog them by percentage points in the East Division standings.
“They have good components. They have some good D and some well-balanced lines,” said Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma. “They have skill, they have a good makeup for a team and they have good goaltending. As a result they’re a good, hard, solid team to play. It was a hard-fought game.”
No one battled more than John Curry, who turned aside 23 shots, and was spectacular at times, making at least two big saves on shorthanded breakawaya.
Curry weathered the storm early, holding the Phantoms off the scoresheet for the first 15 minutes despite being bombarded with a dozen shots. Number 13 proved to be unlucky though, as Boyd Kane took a Jonathan Matsumoto pass off a three-on-two and beat the Penguins’ netminder with a wrister for the only score of the first period.
Paul Bissonnette, who is turning into something of a scoring sensation lately, continued his torrid pace on Sunday. The Penguins forward planted himself on the right post and picked up a Jean-Michel Daoust rebound to easily pick up his third goal in the past four games at 5:18 of the second.
Curry’s biggest save of the night came against Kane, who drove the slot alone while a man down 3:20 into the third period. But the Pens netminder held his ground and kept the score tied at 1-1.
Unfortunately, Claude Giroux found a way to beat Curry. The Phantoms leading goal scorer was set up one-on-one with Danny Richomd down the right side of the ice seven minutes into the third. Richmond stepped up and attempted to swat at a high pass with his stick, but failed to make contact, allowing the Philly sniper to skate in alone and beat Curry short side for his 14th of the year.
“The puck in the air…that’s a puck you want to go after with your hands,” Bylsma said. “You don’t want to take an attempt with your stick. That bounce happens and it gets by him, they have one more chance and it was a good chance. John came up big on a couple of shorthanded situations there on breakaways. It was a good shot over his glove.”
Despite the loss, the Penguins completed their second four-in-five of the season with a 3-1-0-0 record. The team is off until next Friday, when they take on the Hershey Bears at the Wachovia Arena.
NOTES: Former Penguins captain Steve Leach, now a scout for the Calgary Flames, was in attendance at the game…The Penguins killed off all four Phantoms power play opportunities on the night, and have now gone five games without allowing a power play goal (18 for 18)