TANGRADI’S TWO HELP PENGUINS STAY PERFECT IN CHARLOTTE
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Eric Tangradi scored two goals, Nick Johnson had a goal and an assist, and Dustin Jeffrey had two assists to help the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to a 5-2 victory over the Charlotte Checkers on Tuesday night at Time Warner Cable Arena, the club’s third win in three tries in North Carolina.
The Penguins got on the board first at 6:12 of the first period on a Charlotte defensive zone turnover. Brett Sterling made a heads-up play in stealing a breakout pass and then promptly carried the puck the other way, fed the slot and found Tim Wallace for a forehand-backhand goal past Checkers goaltender Justin Pogge.
The Penguins were given two consecutive power plays after the goal but the Checkers’ second-ranked penalty kill held the visitors off of the scoresheet.
The second period featured little in the way of even-strength hockey as the Checkers earned three power plays and the Penguins two. Both penalty killing units were able to step up, as did Pogge and Thiessen. But the even strength play late in the frame went in favor of the Penguins. Team captain Ryan Craig and Johnson chipped away at a loose puck to the left of Pogge’s crease, and Eric Tangradi was able to join in and poke the puck over the goal line before Pogge could freeze it. Tangradi’s 14th goal of the season came with just 15 seconds remaining in the period.
With the Penguins leading 2-0 in the third, Joey Mormina and Checkers center Brad Herauf were each sent off for coincidental roughing penalties at 7:53, a series which set off two more quick strikes by the Penguins. First, Dustin Jeffrey won a defensive zone faceoff and took off on an odd-man rush, entered the Checkers’ zone, and sent a pass over to Johnson who scored his 12th goal of the season past Pogge at 9:06. Then just 40 seconds later, the Penguins made it 4-0 when Jeffrey led a three-on-one rush with help from Robert Bortuzzo. Jeffrey made a drop-pass that was slapped home by Steve Wagner, the defenseman’s third goal of the season and a goal which ended Pogge’s night.
But the Checkers made things interesting late in the game with two consecutive power play goals. Wallace first took a slashing penalty with just under seven minutes to play, which allowed the Checkers to finally get on the scoresheet. With three seconds remaining on Charlotte’s sixth power play of the game, Jacob Micflikier poked a rebound of a Jonathan Matsumoto chance through Thiessen’s pads and just over the goal line at 15:02.
Sterling then took a tripping penalty that helped the Checkers pull within two goals with just under three minutes left in the game. Michal Jordan ended up with the puck on his stick and fired a wrist shot that beat Thiessen through traffic at 18:10.
But Tangradi’s second goal of the game came when Checkers backup netminder Mike Murphy was on the bench for an extra attacker. Thiessen had to make two point-blank saves late, the second on Matsumoto, before Joe Vitale was able to poke the puck out of the zone to Tangradi, who had an easy goal into the empty net.
Thiessen improved to 15-3-0 on the season in making 25 saves while Pogge took the loss, falling to 11-7-1 in stopping 23 of 27 shots in 49:46 of work. The Penguins ended the night 5-for-7 on the penalty kill and were scoreless on four power play opportunities.
With the win, the Penguins improve to 27-8-0-0 on the season, 12-3-0-0 on the road, and 3-0-0-0 against the Checkers.
The Penguins will stay in North Carolina for another game against the Charlotte Checkers tomorrow, January 5. Faceoff is set for 7:00 pm at Time Warner Cable Arena. Fans can listen to the game live on www.wbspenguins.com or catch the game on AHL Live powered by NeuLion.
The Penguins will return home on Friday, January 7 to take on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for the first meeting of the season between the clubs in Wilkes-Barre Township. Friday is another Dollar Dogs and Drafts Night. Fans may purchase hot dogs (limit four per customer) for just $1 while supplies last. Additionally, fans age 21 and older may purchase select draft beers for $1 from 6:00-7:30 pm.
Great seats remain for the game, and tickets 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.
10-game flex books, 12-game partial plans and group tickets are also available by calling the Penguins’ offices at (570) 208-PENS.
NOTES: The Penguins scratched D Andrew Hutchinson, F Ben Street and C Keven Veilleux… LW Eric Tangradi’s 14th and 15th goals of the season pulled him into the team lead in the category… G Brad Thiessen temporarily pulled into a tie for the AHL lead in goaltender wins (15), with Leland Irving’s Abbotsford Heat in action late tonight… The Penguins became the first team in the AHL to reach 12 wins on the road…The Penguins need just two more road wins to match their total from all of last season (14-22-2-2)… Earlier in the day, Penguins head coach John Hynes was named a co-coach for the AHL Western Conference All-Stars on January 31 at the 2011 AHL All-Star Classic Presented by Capital Blue Cross in Hershey.