WILKES-BARRE TWP. ‚?? Every time the Bridgeport Sound Tigers were whistled for a penalty, it was music to Eric Tangradi‚??s ears.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins winger scored three power play goals Friday, leading the Penguins to a 3-1 win over the Sound Tigers. The win is the Penguins third in a row, improving their record to 8-6-0-0 and moving them into second place in the East Division.
Coming into the game, the Penguins power play was mired in an 0-for-18 slump over its last four contests. At home, the power play was a paltry 2-for-34.
It was something that the team addressed before the puck dropped.
‚??Before the game we got challenged as a unit,‚?Ě Tangradi said. ‚??We‚??ve been creating momentum but we weren‚??t capitalizing.‚?Ě
Tangradi turned all that around in a hurry.
Less than two minutes in, Trevor Smith fed a pass to Tangradi down low in the slot. Tangradi caught up to the puck and slid it past Bridgeport goaltender Kevin Poulin for the power play goal.
After Bridgeport scored on the man-advantage to make it 2-1, Tangradi answered back with his second power play goal.
This time, Beau Bennett skated the puck out from behind the net, turned and flung a pass into the slot. The puck deflected off Benn Ferriero to Tangradi at the corner, who shot it into the empty net for a 2-1 first period lead.
‚??Just grinding down in the zone and keeping it simple,‚?Ě Tangradi said. ‚??I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to shovel it home.‚?Ě
After being marred by slow starts, the Penguins have turned around their play in the first period, something head coach John Hynes attributes to players having a better grasp of the system.
‚??It‚??s a commitment to how we want to play,‚?Ě he said. ‚??Guys are really understanding it now, and that allows us to get to our game quickly.‚?Ě
In the second period, Bridgeport‚??s Jason Clark was whistled for roughing and it was only a matter of time before Tangradi would connect again.
‚??When we hopped over the boards, we felt we were going to score,‚?Ě Tangradi said. ‚??The way we were getting chances, we knew if we sustained pressure, we were going to get one.
‚??We were thriving on confidence.‚?Ě
The 6-4, 232-pound winger positioned himself in front of the Bridgeport net and let his teammates fire at will from the perimeter. Brian Dumoulin‚??s point shot finally made it through, and Tagradi deflected it past Poulin for the power play hat trick and a 3-1 lead.
Tangradi said his teammates joked after the game that all of his power play goals were within four feet of the net, but no matter where they came from it was fine with Hynes, who said there was more to Tangradi‚??s success than net front presence.
‚??One of the things that really helped was his puck recovery. He really kept plays alive below the goal line,‚?Ě Hynes said. ‚??It wasn‚??t just his net front screens, it was his play in and around the net.‚?Ě
At the other end of the ice, the action was a little slower for goaltender Jeff Zatkoff. Thanks to a stellar defense in front, Zatkoff didn‚??t see his tenth shot until 15:18 of the second period. On the night Zatkoff stopped 19 of the 20 shots he faced to preserve the Penguins two-goal lead.
‚?Ę Tangradi‚??s last hat trick was on Dec. 8, 2010, against Toronto. His hat trick on Friday was the second for the Penguins this season.
‚?Ę With his three power play goals, Tangradi is tied for second in the AHL with nine goals and tied for first with five tallies on the man-advantage. Ferriero is tied for third in the league with six power play assists.
‚?Ę Friday was the first time this season that the Penguins scored three times on the power play.
‚?Ę D Joey Mormina, D Philip Samuelsson, C Zach Sill (upper body), C Jayson Megna (lower body), D Alex Grant and RW Keven Veilleux were scratched for the Penguins.
‚?Ę The Penguins travel to Hershey to face the Bears today at 7 p.m.
Scoring ‚?? 1. WBS, Eric Tangradi 7 (Smith, Ferriero) power play 1:32. 2. BRI, Johan Sundsrom 3 (Niederreiter, Hamonic) power play 7:50. 3. WBS, Eric Tangradi 8 (Ferriero, Bennett) power play 15:07.
Penalties ‚?? BRI, Hamonic (cross-checking) :52; WBS, MacIntyre (goaltender interference) 6:46; WBS, Despres (interference) 10:04; BRI, Riley (hooking) 13:52; BRI, Halmo (fighting) 16:02; WBS, Farnham (fighting) 16:02.
Scoring ‚?? 4. WBS, Eric Tangradi 9 (Dumoulin, Smith) power play 13:36.
Penalties ‚?? WBS, Despres (high-sticking) 3:42; BRI, Clark (roughing) 12:44; Bri, McIver (roughing) 16:58; WBS, Kuhnhackl (roughing) 16:58; BRI, Landry (slashing) 17:51.
Scoring ‚?? None.
Penalties ‚?? BRI, Backman (interference) 5:24.
Shots on goal
Bridgeport ‚?? 6-4-10-20; Penguins ‚?? 13-16-4-32
Bridgeport ‚?? 1 of 3; Penguins ‚?? 3 of 5
Bridgeport ‚?? Kevin Poulin 6-3-0 (30 saves - 33 shots); Penguins ‚?? Jeff Zatkoff ‚?? 6-5-0 (19-20)
Bridgeport ‚?? D Ty Wishart, D Matt Donovan, LW Nino Niederreiter, C Brock Nelson, RW Brandon DeFazio; Penguins ‚?? D Robert Bortuzzo, D Simon Despres, LW Phil Dupuis, C Warren Peters, RW Paul Thompson
1. WBS, Eric Tangradi (three power play goals) 2. WBS, Benn Ferriero (two assists) 3. WBS, Trevor Smith (two assists)
Referee ‚?? Geno Binda.
Linesmen ‚?? Bob Goodman, Matt McNulty
Attendance ‚?? 4,774