PENGUINS POWER PAST SENATORS, 3-1
WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins entered Wednesday night’s game suffering through a 2-for-26 stretch on the power play during their previous five contests.
They only received two opportunities on the man advantage during their midweek meeting with the Binghamton Senators, but picked the perfect time to come alive.
Nick Johnson’s deflected shot on the power play found its way behind goaltender Jeff Glass at 7:24 of the third period, snapping a 1-1 tie and helping the Penguins to a 3-1 win at the Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza.
With the win, the Penguins (38-19-2-2) moved percentage points ahead of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and back into second place in the East Division. They also extended the distance between themselves and the Senators (32-22-5-3), who currently hold the fourth and final playoff position in the division.
“They’re a team that’s game has been coming around, they’ve been playing real good hockey,” said head coach Todd Reirden. “It’s a situation where we played a bit undermanned today. Major credit to our guys, it was a complete team effort.”
The Penguins were down a few regulars after Luca Caputi and Jon D’Aversa were reassigned to Wheeling, and Chris Minard and Aaron Boogaard sat out the game - all for disciplinary reasons. Throw in the loss of Danny Richmond on the blueline after he was traded to the St. Louis Blues earlier in the day, and the Penguins looked like a patchwork bunch.
It didn’t help that the Sens had won three of four games entering the contest, the first meeting between the teams since mid-January.
“They’re a good team,” said goaltender John Curry, who tied the team record for career victories with his 48th. “They played hard, but we just stuck with our game plan and came out with a win.”
Brian Lee gave the visitors the lead with the only goal of the first period, a power play marker off a feed by Denis Hamel at 5:42.
But that was the only puck that would get by Curry, who matched his win total (24) from all of last season by stopping 19 shots.
Jeff Taffe broke an eight-game goal drought with a twirling shot from the right dot that deflected off a Binghamton skate and slammed into the back of the net at 17:35 of the second period. It was the 20th goal of the season for the Pens’ vet, the third time in his AHL career that he has hit the mark.
That score held until Alex Goligoski blasted a point shot that Johnson tipped over Glass midway through the third period for his second goal in the past four games.
“Certainly a great job by Nick Johnson standing in front, and obviously a great shot from the point as well by Alex [Goligoski], who has been phenomenal for us this year,” said Reirden. “You just got to continue to have confidence and work at it, and work at it and work at it. You’re going to go through dry spells on the power play, and it’s a matter of how you manage your frustration level.”
Janne Pesonen closed out the scoring with an empty net goal at 19:50.