TAFFE, DAOUST DOUSE RIVER RATS
WILKES-BARRE, PA – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins lost quite a bit of firepower when Chris Minard and Janne Pesonen - who combined for 22 goals and 51 points through the first two months of the AHL season - were promoted to Pittsburgh earlier this week.
But it didn’t take long to find some faces to fill the void left behind.
Jeff Taffe and Jean-Michel Daoust each recorded four points, Luca Caputi scored for his third consecutive game, and the Penguins posted a 7-3 win against the Albany River Rats on Saturday night at the Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza.
The win was the Penguins second in a row, and upped their record to 13-9-1-1 on the season, while Albany fell to 8-10-3-2, and had its string of seven consecutive games with at least one point snapped.
Daoust was playing in just his third game of the season after recovering from a broken jaw suffered during play on October 17 versus Bridgeport. But head coach Dan Bylsma had no reservations inserting him into the Penguins top line with Taffe and Tim Wallace.
“J. M’s a talented player. He can make plays, shoot the puck, he has offensive instinct,” said Bylsma. “He’s been in the unfortunate position where he hasn’t had the opportunity to do it much. With the call ups and injuries, he’s had a chance to get in the lineup. For me it was a natural pick, it wasn’t a hard one.
Daoust set new personal bests for goals and points in a game, while Taffe recorded his ninth multiple point game of the season, making fans at least temporarily forget about the losses of Minard and Pesonen to the NHL.
“Those two guys are hard to replace. They’re great players for different reasons,” said Taffe, who moved into a tie for fifth place in the league with 27 points (14+13) in 23 games. “It worked out tonight, a few good bounces, and it’s one of those games.”
Daoust didn’t waste any time getting his night going, scoring just 49 seconds into the game. He assisted on Taffe’s first period marker, as well as Wallace’s second period goal to give him three points in the first 23 minutes of play.
Dwight Helminen finally cracked Adam Berkhoel eight minutes into the second frame, but Taffe countered three-and-a-half minutes later with a power play goal to give the home squad a 4-1 lead headed into the third period.
Luca Caputi extended his goal streak to three games with his sixth of the season at the five minute mark before former Penguin Joe Jensen notched his fourth of the season 32 seconds later to make the score 5-2. But Daoust snuffed any momentum the River Rats may have picked up by beating David Leggio from the left faceoff circle for his second of the night at 6:09.
Mike Angelidis and Nick Johnson traded goals to finish off the scoring.
Berkhoel stopped 22 shots for his ninth win of the season, leaving him just one victory shy of tying his total from the 2007-08 campaign.
The Penguins get right back to action on Sunday afternoon, when they will host the Philadelphia Phantoms at 5:05pm.
NOTES: Dustin Jeffrey extended his point/assist streaks to five games (0+5=5), as did Caputi (4+3=7)…Caputi now has five goals in his past seven games…Jean-Phillipe Cote had two assists and was a plus-5 on the night…Johnson recorded his first career AHL goal after being recalled from Wheeling (ECHL) earlier in the day.