WILKES-BARRE TWP. – Up 2-0 going into the third period against the Toronto Marlies on Sunday, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins figured they were well on their way to another two points.
Perhaps such a mindset was their demise.
Toronto tied it up with two goals in a 40-second span in the third period, and then won it with 27 seconds left to beat the Penguins 3-2.The loss is just the second defeat in the last eight games for the Penguins, whose East Division lead was cut to one point over Binghamton, which lost to Hershey in overtime.
Head coach John Hynes had a simple explanation for why his team blew a two-goal lead in the third.
“Stopped playing,” he said. “Thought it was going to be easy. It wasn’t. There’s your lead, blown.”
The Penguins controlled most of the game at both ends of the ice. They held the Marlies to just four shots through the first half of the game, and got on the board in the early stages of the first period via an Adam Payerl wrist shot from the slot with the man advantage to make it 1-0.
Tom Kostopoulos made it 2-0 when he banked in an Anton Zlobin pass at the corner of the net less than two minutes into the second period.
“After the second period we thought we were in control of the game,” Kostopoulos said.
While the Penguins seemed to be cruising to their third straight win, the Marlies complicated those plans in a hurry.
At 8:53 of the third period Toronto made it 2-1 when Greg McKegg’s shot deflected under Tomas Vokoun during a power play. Thirty nine seconds later, the Marlies tied it up when Carter Verhaeghe drew the faceoff back to T.J. Brennan, who blasted a one-timer past Vokoun to make it 2-2.
“It was all mental,” Hynes said of the Penguins third period collapse. “When you have a lead and the other team keeps pushing, this is what happens. We took our foot off the gas after 40 minutes and got what we deserved.”
With less than a minute remaining, Toronto’s Kenny Ryan deflected a shot from the slot past Vokoun for the win. Toronto outshot the Penguins 13-5 in the period.
The loss was a missed opportunity for the Penguins to build on their division lead, and a hard lesson to learn heading into the playoffs.
“The only thing we can do right now is learn that we can’t take our foot off the gas,” Kostopoulos said. “Those are two points we’d really like back.”
- G Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers (injury), D Philip Samuelsson (injury), D Brian Dumoulin (injury), C Cody Sylvester, C Mike Carman, RW Josh Archibald, RW Bryan Rust, LW Conor Sheary and LW Scott Wilson were scratched for the Penguins.
- Chuck Kobasew was recalled by Pittsburgh on Sunday.
- C Zach Sill played in his first game since being injured on Jan. 25.
- Before the game, the Penguins announced their end of the season awards:
Media – Nick Drazenovic
Rookie of the Year – Scott Harrington
Community Service Award – Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond
Most Valuable Defenseman – Philip Samuelsson
Most Improved Player – Reid McNeill
Herb Brooks Memorial Award – Brendan Mikkelson
Fan Favorite – Bobby Farnham
Three Stars Award – Tom Kostopoulos
Most valuable Player – Tom Kostopoulos
Toronto 3 Penguins 2
Toronto`0`0`3` — 3
Scoring – 1. WBS, Adam Payerl 4 (Zlobin, Goers) power play 3:06. Penalties – TOR, Kozun (tripping) 1:29; WBS, Kostopoulos (elbowing) 18:58.
Scoring – 2. WBS, Tom Kostopoulos 22 (Goers, Zlobin) 1:35. Penalties – TOR, Holzer (tripping) 4:24; TOR, Marshall (holding) 6:13; WBS, Marcantuoni (high-sticking) 13:53; TOR, Devane (fighting) 16:35; TOR, Staubitz (roughing) 16:35; WBS, Franham (misconduct) 16:35; Leblond (roughing – double minor) 16:35; WBS, Sill (fighting) 16:35.
Scoring – 3. TOR, Greg McKegg 19 (Carrick, Smith) power play 8:53. 4. TOR, T.J. Brennan 24 (Verhaeghe) 9:32. 4. TOR, Kenny Ryan 6 (D’Amigo, Brennan) 19:33. Penalties – WBS, Farnham (delay of game) 8:30.
Shots on goal: Toronto – 4-4-13-21; Penguins – 7-12-5-24. Power-play Opportunities: Toronto – 1 of 4; Penguins – 1 of 3. Goaltenders: Toronto, Garret Sparks 11-6-1 (22 saves – 24 shots); Penguins, Tomas Vokoun 1-1-0 (18-21).
Starters: Toronto – G Garret Sparks, D Korbinian Holzer, D Kevin Marshall, LW David Broll, C Trevor Smith, RW Fabrice Herzog; Penguins – G Tomas Vokoun, D Brendan Mikkelson, D Scott Harrington, LW Adam Payerl, C Nick Drazenovic, RW Spencer Machacek.
Three Stars: 1. TOR, Jerry D’Amigo (assist on game-winning goal) 2. WBS, Tom Kostopoulos (goal) 3. WBS, Anton Zlobin (two assists).
Referee – T.J. Luxmore. Linesmen – Tom George, Jud Ritter
Attendance – 6,519