RICHMOND COMES ALIVE IN WIN OVER BEARS
WILKES-BARRE, PA – Danny Richmond was, by his own admission, a little fed up with the zeros on his stats sheet. Through the first 11 games of the season, the defender had yet to record a point for the Penguins following an offseason trade from Chicago.
But he broke out of his slump in a big way Saturday night, setting up three Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goals as the Penguins posted a 4-3 win against the Hershey Bears at the Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza.
The win upped the Pens’ record to 7-4-0-1 (15 points) on the season, while Hershey fell to 9-4-0-1 (19 points).
Richmond chipped in every way imaginable, assisting on an even strength, a power play and a shorthanded tally, for his first three points of the season.
“It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been getting chances the last few games,” he said. “I was hoping for maybe one off my shin pads to a guy. I was getting frustrated the last few nights.”
He started to erase that feeling six minutes into the game, when he hit Dustin Jeffrey with a long pass at the far blueline. The rookie forward then danced around a Hershey defender and slipped a backhand shot between Darren Machesney’s left skate and the post for his second goal of the season. That attempt was also the Penguins first shot of the game.
“Richmond made a great pass, hit me through the middle,” said Jeffrey. “Through the first 11 games, everybody thought he was playing well. But I think tonight we saw…what he can really bring to our team.”
The early advantage was short-lived though, as Sami Lepisto unleashed a blistering shot from the slot 13 seconds later, tying the score at 1-1.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was quick to counter. Jeff Taffe carried the puck into the Hershey zone, then fed Jonathan Filewich in the slot from the left side. Filewich got two swats at the puck, and pushed the second over the goal line for his first goal since opening night - also against the Bears.
The Pens got very few other chances in the opening frame, as they spent a string of nearly five-and-a-half minutes straight shorthanded following penalties to Bill Thomas (interference), Ben Lovejoy (tripping), Joey Mormina (slashing) and Lovejoy again (delay of game). The home club was able to snuff out the entire Bears advantage, which also included a minute of five-on-three action.
“Certainly with the way the game was going - they had carried the play, they were getting to their game - caused us to take some penalties,” said Bylsma. “The forwards, the defensemen and the goalie were all chipping in, battling, and doing whatever they could to get it out. That was the time in the game where we started to build some momentum.”
Despite being outshot 16-5 in the first 20 minutes, the Penguins carried the one-goal lead to the second period, and quickly saw it swell to 4-1.
Richmond, seeing more penalty kill time in the second, carried the puck deep down the right wall, and dished to Bill Thomas in front of the Hershey net. Thomas snuck his first of the season behind Machesney, leading to the netminder’s early exit just 3:26 into the middle period.
Taffe found pay dirt on the power play nine minutes later, notching his ninth of the season, and giving him multiple points in seven of the past eight games.
Kyle Wilson brought the Bears back to within striking distance, scoring late in the second and early in the third to make the score 4-3. But the Penguins defense stifled Hershey the remainder of the way, giving Wilkes-Barre/Scranton its second win against the intra-division rival this year.
“It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t the formula we were looking for. But we did battle to the end and we get to put the two points in our column,” stated Bylsma.
NOTES: Chris Minard picked up an assist on Taffe’s goal, keeping his point streak alive at 11 games…Thomas’ goal was the fourth shorthanded goal of the year for the Penguins through 12 games. The team combined for four shorthanded tallies all last year…John Curry made 29 saves for his third win of the season.