WILKES-BARRE TWP. — Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coach John Hynes went with his instinct during Saturday’s shootout against the Albany Devils. Adam Payerl didn’t let him down.
After skating to a tie against the Devils in regulation and overtime, both teams entered the sixth round of the shootout with two goals apiece.
And that’s when Hynes sent Payerl over the to face Albany goaltender Maxime Clermont for the first shootout attempt of his AHL career.
His shot on the glove side found the back of the net, and Jeff Zatkoff made the final save on Albany’s Steve Zalewski to seal the 2-1 win for the Penguins.
The victory allows the Penguins (30-24-2-1) to maintain a one-point advantage over the Hershey Bears for third place in the East Division.
It was another tight, low-scoring game for the Penguins who have scored two goals or less in the last seven games and, once again, entered the third period with a 1-1 tie.
“All the games have been tight. It’s something over the last couple of weeks that we’ve had to play a lot on those situations,” Hynes said. “The more you play in them the better you get at them.”
For the third straight game, the Penguins connected on the power play thanks to Tom Kostopoulos, who has either scored or set up the team’s last three goals with the man-advantage.
This time Kostopoulos made a pass in front from behind the net to Trevor Smith, who one-timed it past Clermont to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead midway through the first period.
Zatkoff played strong in net for the Penguins, making a spectacular glove save to thwart a breakaway by Albany’s Scott Parse to open the second period.
The Devils did manage to beat Zatkoff later in the period when Darcy Zajac converted a shot from the corner to make it 1-1.
After that, the closest the Penguins came to retaking the lead occurred early in the third period when a pass deflected off Dominik Uher’s skate in front and almost snuck past Clermont, who swept it away.
During overtime, Smith appeared to win the game with a great single-handed effort, but after a review it was ruled that his shot didn’t cross the goal line.
During the shootout, Jayson Megna and Kostopoulos scored for the Penguins to match two goals by Albany.
Then it was Payerl’s turn, and he connected with the glove-side shot.
“He has a good shot. You can see that in practice,” Hynes said. “He’s a guy you have a gut feeling about that he would be able to produce in that situation.”
The win snaps a two-game losing streak for the Penguins, who are now 5-1 in shootouts.
• D Cody Wild, RW Christian Minella, RW Paul Thompson (injury), C Phil Dupuis (injury) and LW Steve MacIntyre (injury) were scratched for the Penguins.
• Uher threw the biggest hit of the game when he leveled Albany’s Eric Gelinas along the boards with a clean check. Zajac took exception to the hit and dropped the gloves with Uher for a lengthy bout to close out the first period.
Penguins 2, Albany 1 (SO)
Albany 0 1 0 0 0 — 1
Penguins 1 0 0 0 1 — 2
First Period: Scoring – 1. Trevor Smith 17 (Kostopoulos, Grant) power play 9:25. Penalties – ALB, bench – served by Whitney (too many men) 1:47; ALB, McKelvie (fighting) 1:47; WBS, Farnham (fighting) 1:47; ALB, Josefson (holding the stick) 8:37; ALB, McPherson (cross-checking) 15:54; WBS, Farnham (hooking) 15:54; ALB, Zajac (fighting) 19:48; WBS, Uher (fighting) 19:48.
Second Period: Scoring – 2. ALB, Darcy Zajac 8 (Josefson, Parse) 15:46. Penalties – WBS, Kostopoulos (interference) 17:16.
Third Period: Scoring – None. Penalties – WBS, Peters (cross-checking) 13:20; ALB, Wiseman (slashing) 14:55.
Overtime: Scoring – None. Penalties – None.
Shootout: Penguins: 1. Kolarik – NG 2. Smith – NG 3. Holzapfel – NG 4. Megna – G 5. Kostopoulos – G 6. Payerl - G; Albany 1. Sislo - G 2. Wiseman – NG 3. DeSimone – NG 4. Parse – NG 5. Whitney – G 6. Zalewski - NG
Shots on goal: Albany – 7-10-8-2-27; Penguins – 8-12-7-3-30
Power-play Opportunities: Albany – 0 of 2; Penguins – 1 of 3
Goaltenders: Albany – Maxime Clermont 0-0-1 (29 saves – 30 shots); Penguins – Jeff Zatkoff 18-16-0 (26-27)
Starters: Albany – G Maxime Clermont, D Eric Gelinas, D Dan Kelly, LW Harri Pesonen, C Steve Zalewski, RW Mike Sislo; Penguins – G Jeff Zatkoff, D Dylan Reese, D Brian Dumoulin, LW Riley Holzapfel, C Trevor Smith, RW Chad Kolarik
Three Stars: 1. WBS, Adam Payerl (shootout goal, game-winner) 2. WBS, Jeff Zatkoff (one goal allowed) 3. WBS, Tom Kostopoulos (first AHL shootout goal)
Referee: Ryan Fraser. Linesmen: Matt McNulty, Leo Boylan