PENGUINS ROLL OVER ALBANY, REWRITE HISTORY
WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP, Pa. – Chris Conner set a franchise record with six points, including a hat trick and three assists, and seven other players notched a multiple-point game as the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins trounced the Albany River Rats by a 9-2 score on Wednesday night at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
Conner began his record-breaking night by taking a Wyatt Smith pass off the neutral zone boards and skating behind the Rats defense. He went in alone on starting goaltender Justin Peters, waited for him to commit, and slid a shot into the net for the 1-0 lead. He would return the favor by passing to newest Penguins blueliner Steve Wagner, who in turn directed a pass across the neutral zone to Ben Lovejoy. With the Rats taking their time on a line change, Lovejoy had all day to skate in and blast a slap shot past Peters’ blocker for his seventh of the season. Then with Jiri Tlusty called for the game’s first penalty late in the period, Eric Tangradi worked the puck from the left corner in front to Smith, who was parked at the top of the crease. Smith one-touched the pass behind Peters with just 1.4 seconds left to play in the first and gave the hosts a 3-0 advantage heading into the dressing room.
Luca Caputi then scored on a wraparound just 1:04 into the second period, which ended Peters’ night. Mike Morrison came on in relief and immediately allowed Mark Letestu to tap home a two-on-one pass from Caputi just 33 seconds later, which gave the Penguins a 5-0 advantage. Conner would make it 6-0 by driving straight down the slot, taking a corner feed from Wagner, and muscling the puck behind Morrison.
The Penguins could have blown the game open even more as they were handed their third power play of the game, but Nick Dodge would chip a Steven Goertzen pass in behind Penguins rookie goaltender Brad Thiessen to get the visitors on the board with a shorthanded goal at 8:24 of the second.
Holding a 6-1 advantage at the start of the third, the Penguins won the faceoff to start the frame and immediately got the puck to Conner on the left center-ice boards. The speedy winger would power into the Albany zone and lift a backhander into the upper right corner behind Morrison, just 14 seconds into the third period, to complete the hat trick. After an Albany power play goal by leading scorer Jerome Samson at 2:01 made it 7-2, Dustin Jeffrey and Caputi would add markers to run the score up to 9-2. The Penguins earned three successive five-on-three power plays in the final period and were finally able to score at the very end of a five-on-four, when Caputi tapped home a Conner feed. The assist gave the right winger his franchise-record sixth point of the evening.
Peters was tagged with the loss after just 12 saves on 16 shots. Morrison came on and stopped 15 of 20 shots in relief. Thiessen earned his third consecutive win by turning aside 30 of 32 shots.
The Penguins finished 2-for-8 on the power play, and 5-for-6 on the penalty kill.
The Penguins hit the road for their longest trip of the 2010 portion of the season with a visit to face off against the Lowell Devils. Puck drop is at 7:00 pm from the Tsongas Arena. The team will then travel to New Hampshire to take on the Manchester Monarchs on Sunday at 3:00 pm at Verizon Wireless Arena.
NOTES: Hall of Famer Craig Patrick, who was the assistant coach on Team USA’s “Miracle on Ice” victory over the Soviets in 1980, was on hand for a ceremonial puck drop at the start of the game… RW Chris Conner’s six points set a franchise record for points in a game, and tied an AHL season high last set by Springfield’s Chad Wiseman… Wiseman’s six-point effort was exactly one month ago, and was tallied against the Penguins… The Penguins’ nine goals set a franchise record for most goals in a single game… C Wyatt Smith (1+3), LW Luca Caputi (2+2), C Mark Letestu (1+2), C Dustin Jeffrey (1+2), D Chris Lee (0+2), D Steve Wagner (0+2), and F Eric Tangradi (0+2) all had multiple-point games in the contest.