MANCHESTER, N.H. – The “Force” was with goaltender Jeff Zatkoff and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a 5-4 shootout win in front of 9,105 fans at Verizon Wireless Arena on Sunday.
The Penguins trailed 3-0 before coming back to force overtime and escape with the win on a day when Manchester’s mascot, Max the lion, celebrated his 12th birthday Star Wars style, with costumed stormtroopers and Jedi around the arena.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton improved to 32-25-1-2 and took four out of six points on its New England road trip weekend. Riley Holzapfel and Trevor Smith scored in the shootout, and Zatkoff stopped all four Manchester shooters and made 24 saves overall to improve to 3-0 against the team he played with for the previous three seasons.
“The scouting report must have been five-hole because I think three or four went five-hole,” goalie Zatkoff said of the shootout saves. “There’s always a little extra motivation, a little extra focus when you come in to play these kind of games with something to prove. I’m in a good spot here with Wilkes/Barre.”
After seeing a 3-0 lead evaporate into a one-goal game late in the second period, Manchester (28-24-3-4) came out strong to open the third. Andy Andreoff gave the Monarchs a 4-2 lead with a goal at 5:28, cutting across the top of the crease and backhanding the puck past a diving Zatkoff.
Zach Sill gave the Penguins some life with a goal at 10:03. Sill drove the net and put a shot on that Martin Jones stopped with his pads, but the puck trickled through and Sill followed it, darting around Jones and into the crease to help the puck the last few inches into the net.
Dylan Reese completed the comeback for the Penguins, tying the game at 4-4 at the 15:50 mark of the third. Kolarik sent Reese ahead with a pass into the slot and Reese roofed a shot past Jones’ glove.
The teams skated a scoreless overtime to set the stage for the shootout and eventual WBS win.
“All in all, I thought it was about the character and leadership of our players,” Penguins head coach John Hynes said. “At 2-0 it wasn’t looking too good. They were really dominating and in control. The fact that we were able to get it to 3-2, that was the difference. That was the momentum-changer because it gave you a little life.”
Manchester took a 3-0 lead with a shorthanded goal at 7:21 of the second period on a Robbie Czarnik wraparound inside the right post.
The Penguins came back with two quick goals to make it a 3-2 game. Holzapfel’s shot from the left circle was deflected down and under Jones by Kolarik at 16:11. Just 28 seconds later it was 3-2 after Sill pushed the puck into the cage during a goal-mouth scramble.
The Monarchs led 2-0 after one period on a five-on-three power-play goal from Brandon Kozun and shorthanded tally by Stefan Legein.
Penguins 0 2 2 0 - 5
Manchester 2 1 1 0 - 4
1st Period: Scoring- 1, Manchester, Kozun 22 (Rodney, Vey), 7:56 (PP). 2, Manchester, Legein 5 (Campbell), 10:40 (SH). Penalties- Thompson Wbs (interference), 6:06; Megna Wbs (slashing), 7:32; Huxley Mch (closing hand on puck), 10:04; Deslauriers Mch (elbowing), 17:10; Farnham Wbs (fighting), 19:53; Huxley Mch (fighting), 19:53.
2nd Period: Scoring- 3, Manchester, Czarnik 4 (LoVerde, Vey), 7:21 (SH). 4, W-B/Scranton, Kolarik 22 (Holzapfel, Dumoulin), 16:11. 5, W-B/Scranton, Farnham 3 (Payerl, Sill), 16:39. Penalties- Huxley Mch (high-sticking), 6:52; Kozun Mch (cross-checking), 10:20.
3rd Period: Scoring- 6, Manchester, Andreoff 9 (Vey, Czarnik), 5:28. 7, W-B/Scranton, Sill 4 10:03. 8, W-B/Scranton, Reese 5 (Kolarik, Dumoulin), 15:50. Penalties- Samuelsson Wbs (diving), 15:17; Yellow Horn Mch (slashing), 15:17; Megna Wbs (goaltender interference), 16:25.
OT Period: Scoring- No Scoring Penalties- No Penalties
Shootout: W-B/Scranton 2 (Kolarik NG, Megna NG, Holzapfel G, Smith G), Manchester 0 (Weal NG, Andreoff NG, Kozun NG, Yellow Horn NG).
Shots on Goal: W-B/Scranton 9-14-6-5-1-35. Manchester 14-8-4-2-0-28.
Power Play Opportunities: W-B/Scranton 0-4; Manchester 1-3.
Goalies: W-B/Scranton, Zatkoff 19-17-0 (28 shots-24 saves). Manchester, Jones 18-19-4 (34 shots-30 saves).
Referees: Jean Hebert (43), Terry Koharski (10).
Linesmen: Jeremy Lovett (78), Brian MacDonald (72).