PHILADELPHIA – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins had just gone over 110 minutes since their last goal, dating back to last Saturday, when head coach John Hynes leaned over and gave his fourth line a vote of confidence.
Down 1-0 to the Adirondack Phantoms in the third period on Friday, the fourth line headed onto the ice and promptly tied things up with a goal from Bobby Farnham.
Two shifts later, Brian Gibbons won it when his shot bounced past Adirondack goaltender Cal Heeter for the 2-1 win before a crowd of 19,561 at the Well Fargo Center.
The win improves the Penguins to 27-22-2-1 as they avoided being shutout for the third time in the last four games. They also maintain a one point lead over Hershey for third place in the East Division.
Their only two goals of the night came in the last half of the third period, and before that it looked like the Penguins were on the brink of another shutout loss.
“We were getting chances and we thought one of them should go in,” Gibbons said. “We were going pretty good all night and it all ended up falling into place.”
The Phantoms scored first during a power play after Brad Thiessen made a save on a Matt Mangene shot but allowed a rebound out to Marcel Noebels, who roofed it for a 1-0 lead.
Penalties prevented the Penguins from generating extended periods of momentum during the first two periods as Adirondack went on the power play six times.
Still, they did create a few chances in the second period, including a Jayson Megna shot in close and a Gibbons shorthanded breakaway that was stopped by Heeter.
With the scoreless second period the Penguins goal scoring drought extended to 105:54, dating back to last Saturday.
It wouldn’t last for long, however.
After they failed to register a shot during a four-minute power play eight minutes into the third, the Penguins regrouped and hit the ice with renewed confidence.
Farnham sparked things when he took a pass from Philip Samuelsson and zipped a wrist shot past Heeter to make it 1-1. The play was the result of a nice pass from Samuelsson and some words of encouragement from Hynes for his fourth line.
“Coach Hynes said right before our shift ‘Go out there. You guys are going to get one,’” Farnham said. “We actually went out and got one and finally a chance went in.”
The goal was Farnham’s second of the year and the momentum it generated carried over to Gibbons’ goal just two shifts later. The game-winner came when Gibbons corralled a bouncing puck at the corner, turned and shot it past Heeter for the win.
“When Bobby got that first one it lifted everyone’s spirits on the bench,” Gibbons said. “To be able to get a greasy one following it up only helped even more.”
With a 2-1 lead, the Penguins defense, which had been solid all night, shut down the Phantoms for the remaining five minutes to preserve the win.
The comeback victory was the Penguins 13th on the road this season as they start off a three-in-three weekend on a positive note.
Scoring – 1. Marcel Noebels 6 (Mangene, Syvret) power play 9:59. Penalties – WBS, Payerl (holding) 3:59; WBS, Reese (interference) 7:58; WBS, bench – served by Holzapfel (too many men) 11:07; ADK, Lilja (hooking) 11:50; ADK, Konan (tripping) 17:23; WBS, Megna (roughing) 19:54; ADK, Sestito (cross-checking) 19:54. Scoring – None. Penalties – ADK, Lilja (cross-checking) 1:30; WBS, Uher (holding the stick) 4:12; WBS, Reese (cross-checking) 5:07; ADK, Mangene (roughing) 5:07; WBS, Farnham (fighting) 10:37; ADK, Slater (fighting) 10:37; WBS, Smith (boarding) 11:27; ADK, Sim (interference) 11:59; WBS, Kostopoulos (roughing, fighting) 15:25; WBS, Samuelsson (fighting) 15:25; ADK, Brown (fighting) 15:25; ADK, Laliberte (fighting) 15:25. Scoring – 2. WBS, Bobby Farnham 2 (Samuelsson) 13:34. 3. WBS, Brian Gibbons 7 (Megna) 15:21. Penalties – WBS, Smith (slashing) 2:04; ADK, Eddy (interference) 6:15; ADK, Manning (high-sticking – double minor) 8:36. Penguins – 10-10-10-30 Adirondack – 14-3-13-30 Penguins – 0 of 7 Adirondack – 1 of 7 Penguins – Brad Thiessen 11-9-1 (29 saves – 30 shots) Adirondack – Cal Heeter 7-12-1 (28-30) Adirondack – G Cal Heeter, D Danny Syvret, D Oliver Lauridsen, LW Tom Sestito, C Garrett Roe, RW Jason Akeson Penguins – G Brad Thiessen, D D Dylan Reese, D Brian Dumoulin, LW Dominik Uher, C Warren Peters, RW Adam Payerl1. WBS, Brad Thiessen (29 saves) 2. ADK, Cal Heeter (28 saves) 3. WBS, Brian Gibbons (game-winning goal) – Chris Cozzan, Ryan Fraser. Linesmen – Bob Fyrer, Jud Ritter – 19,561