PENGUINS REACH 50 WINS WITH 2-1 VICTORY
WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP, Pa. – Zach Sill and Geoff Walker each registered two points while Brad Thiessen made 25 saves to help the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to their fourth straight win, a 2-1 victory over the Charlotte Checkers on Sunday afternoon at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. The victory was the Penguins’ 50th of the season.
The two teams played a tight-checking first period, especially through the first half. Each team was unsuccessful on its first power play chances of the game, largely because of the goaltenders. Charlotte starter Mike Murphy robbed Chris Collins as the puck came out from behind the net when he snared the winger’s wrist shot with his glove. Penguins goaltender Brad Thiessen then denied two good chances on Charlotte’s opportunity.
The Penguins outshot the Checkers 13-8 after the first period as the second frame began scoreless.
The hosts finally struck at the 10:02 mark on a highlight play from Sill. The Penguins’ center kept the puck onside while on his back with a sweeping poke check near the blue line. The puck ended up sliding down the boards to Walker, who then pushed a pass ahead to Nick Petersen uncovered behind the Charlotte defense. Petersen pulled the puck to his forehand while cutting in along the goal line, and slid a shot inside the right post for his first AHL goal.
Later in the period, Murphy fell trying to get back in position after beating a Penguins forward to a puck behind his goal. Apparently injured on the play, he was relieved by Justin Pogge who turned aside both shots he faced.
The Penguins then came out battling early in the third period and earned a big insurance goal. Keven Veilleux forced a turnover deep in the left corner, and got the puck to Walker behind the net. Walker then tapped a quick pass toward the top of the crease, and Sill was there to bat the puck into a virtually open goal for his 10th of the season just 21 seconds into the period.
Of the shots Thiessen faced the rest of the period, most were from long range. That was the case with the Charlotte net empty and the Checkers using six attackers. With time winding down in regulation, defenseman Bryan Rodney backhanded a pass to the left point. Bobby Sanguinetti took a slap shot into traffic, and Chris Terry got just enough of a stick on the shot to deflect it past Thiessen, spoiling his chance for a shutout with 4.9 seconds left in the game.
Thiessen did improve his league-leading record to 31-7-0 with the win. Pogge was tagged with the loss, allowing the game-winning goal to Sill, and fell to 17-16-3. He finished with 11 saves on 12 shots in 24:22 of work. Murphy earned no decision, stopping 18 shots in 33:40 of playing time.
The Penguins finished the afternoon 0-for-4 on the power play, and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill.
The already playoff-bound Penguins improve to 50-18-0-1 on the season, good for 101 points.The Penguins will complete its three-game home stand as the team hosts the Albany Devils on Wednesday, March 23 at 7:05 pm. Great seats remain, and tickets for this and all remaining Penguins home games may be purchased at the Mohegan Sun Arena box office, through any Ticketmaster outlet, online at ticketmaster.com, or by calling 1-800-745-3000.
Ticket packages for the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs are currently available through the Penguins’ ticket offices by calling (570) 208-PENS. Individual tickets for the first home playoff dates, which will be announced at a later time, will go on sale beginning Friday, April 1 at 10:00am.
NOTES: The Penguins made one lineup change from Saturday night, as defenseman Jason DeSantis replaced Alex Grant… The Penguins’ injury scratches were goaltender John Curry, forward Joe Vitale, and defensemen Joey Mormina and Carl Sneep… C Zach Sill extended his goal-scoring streak to three games, and after never recording a game-winning goal, has recorded two of the Penguins’ last three… The Penguins improved to 6-1-0-0 against the Checkers in the season series, with one more game to play… The Penguins have a record of 12-6-0-0 when scoring two goals, and improved to 20-6-0-1 in one-goal games… The Penguins now have recorded three 50-win seasons in its last six, and need just one more victory to match the franchise record of 51 wins in a single season, set twice (2005-06, 2006-07).