WILKES-BARRE TWP. – The Norfolk Admirals came into Saturday’s game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins with an 12-game winning streak at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
That didn’t faze the Penguins, however, who had their minds on a streak of their own.
The Penguins scored four times against Admirals goaltender John Gibson — who won his previous four starts against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton without allowing more than one goal in each, to beat Norfolk 4-0 for their fourth straight win.
“We didn’t talk about (12 losses at home to Norfolk),” Penguins head coach John Hynes said. “We did talk about the season series so far and we were severely on the short end of the stick. But our focus was giving ourselves the best chance of winning the game, not the 12-game streak.”
It was a convincing win for the Penguins, who had lost four of five against Norfolk this season. The victory improved them 34-20-3-5 and extended their East Division lead over third place Norfolk to four points and maintain a one-point advantage over Binghamton for first place.
Harry Zolnierczyk got the Penguins on the board in the first period when he took a pass down low from Nick Drazenovic, raced around the back of the net and deposited a wrap around to the far side to make it 1-0.
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond made it 2-0 late in the period when he tipped in an Adam Payerl pass at the corner. The goal was Leblond’s second of the season and first since Nov. 30, 2013.
During a penalty-filled second period, the Penguins managed to limit Norfolk’s offensive attack and build their lead.
Brian Dumoulin connected on a 5-on-3 power play to make it 3-0, and minutes later, Bobby Farnham feathered a pass to Chuck Kobasew in the slot during a two-on-one rush for a 4-0 lead.
The goal was Kobasew’s second in two games with the Penguins.
All of the Penguins goals against Gibson came from down low, something Hynes said is critical to beating a good goaltender.
“We knew we had to work to score goals tonight,” he said. “He’s an excellent goalie and we didn’t want to stay on the perimeter against them.”
At the other end, goaltender Peter Mannino was rarely tested as the Penguins silenced Norfolk’s offense for most of the night. The Admirals didn’t get their 10th shot until the 18-minute mark of the second period. Mannino stopped all 12 shots he faced on the night for his first shutout since Oct. 8, 2011.
Former Penguin Brad Thiessen started the third period in goal for the Admirals, but Norfolk took themselves out of the game with a high-sticking double minor on Ran Parent followed by a boarding call on Nolan Yonkman to put the Penguins on the power play for almost five minutes.
• D Brendan Mikkelson (veteran scratch), C Zach Sill (injury), C Mike Carman and LW Conor Sheary were scratched for the Penguins.
• Since being recalled from Wheeling late last month, Mannino has allowed one goal or less in four of his five starts.
• Zolnierczyk left the game midway through the third period favoring his shoulder. Hynes said he will be fine.
• Despite scoring once on 10 power play opportunities, Hynes was happy with the way his players executed with the man advantage. “The power play does three things for you: scores, gives you momentum or takes it away from you. Tonight it gave us a lot of momentum and brought life to our team. That’s what you want out of your power play”
Penguins 4, Norfolk 0
Scoring – 1. WBS, Harry Zolnierczyk 18 (Drazenovic, Kostopoulos) 11:20. 2. WBS, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond 2 (Payerl, Farnham) 16:08. Penalties – NOR, Blacker (high-sticking) 4:23; NOR, Laganiere (obstruction – tripping) 7:32.
Scoring – 3. WBS, Brian Dumoulin 5 (Ebbett, Kostopoulos) power play 12:38. 4. WBS, Chuck Kobasew 2 (Farnham, Harrington) 16:55. Penalties – WBS, Drazenovic (tripping) :54; NOR, Yonkman (boarding) 11:33; NOR, Eminger (holding) 12:13; WBS, Drazenovic (holding) 13:34; NOR, Exelby (interference-major, fighting, game misconduct) 15:44; WBS, McNeill (instigating, fighting, misconduct) 15:44; WBS, D’Agostino (interference) 16:02.
Scoring – None. Penalties – WBS, Goers (hooking) 3:20; NOR, Smith-Pelly (interference) 4:16; WBS, Farnham (tripping) 8:03; NOR, Parent (high-sticking double minor) 10:43; NOR, Yonkman (boarding) 12:01.
Shots on goal
Norfolk – 6-4-2-12
Penguins – 12-14-14-40
Norfolk – 0 of 3
Penguins – 1 of 10
Norfolk – John Gibson 18-14-4 (22 saves-26 shots); Brad Thiessen - start of the third period (14-14)
Penguins – Peter Mannino 5-1-1 (12-12)
Norfolk – D Nolan Yonkman, D Steve Eminger, LW Devante Smith-Pelly, C Rickard Rakell, RW Emerson Etem
Penguins – D Reid McNeill, D Philip Samuelsson, LW Harry Zolnierczyk, C Nick Drazenovic, RW Tom Kostopoulos
1. WBS, Harry Zolnierczyk (game-winning goal) 2. WBS, Bobb Farnham (two assists) 3. WBS, Peter Mannino (12 saves, shutout)
Referee – Dave Lewis, Pierre Lambert. Linesmen – Bill Lyons, Luke Murray
Attendance – 7,715