WILKES-BARRE TWP. – When a team puts their opponent on the power play nine times and blanks on six chances of their own, it’s pretty easy to put a finger on what went wrong.
Special teams was the reason behind the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 2-1 loss to the St. John’s IceCaps on Thursday, and because of it they now trail in the Eastern Conference Finals 3-1.
Both of the IceCaps’ goals came on the power play - one with a two-man advantage late in the second and the game-winner in the third period. Head Coach John Hynes said the Penguins’ penalties weren’t the result of poor officiating. The calls were good, he said, but his team’s discipline wasn’t.
“It’s not necessarily the penalties in the D zone around the net protecting against a goal,” he said. “We took some bad penalties away from the play and those are the ones that eventually cost you.”
For example, when Zach Sill was called for a high-sticking double-minor late in the second period that led to the IceCaps first goal, the problem was actually the penalty before that.
Sill’s penalty came while he was killing a St. John’s power play that was the result of a Jayson Megna hooking call.
“(Sill) is killing because of a bad penalty, and then he’s fatigued and winds up taking a hard penalty around the net,” Hynes said. “But it’s the original one that put us down. That’s the problem.”
And that’s what led to the IceCaps having a two-man advantage for 53 seconds, during which they scored when Will O’Neill’s shot got through Peter Mannino to make it 1-0.
The Penguins were outshot 19-2 in the period and went 0-for-4 on the power play through the first two periods while putting the IceCaps on the man advantage six times.
“We’ve been pretty good for most of the playoffs in terms of limiting penalties. This one got a little out of hand,” said winger Harry Zolnierczyk. “Just too many.”
Entering the third period, the Penguins killed off the remaining 2:53 of Sill’s double minor and then got back to work.
Brian Dumoulin evened things up just before the seven-minute mark when his slapshot deflected off IceCaps defenseman Brenden Kichton and behind goaltender Michael Hutchinson to make it 1-1.
Penalties hurt the Penguins again, however, when Brendon Mikkelson went off for roughing a minute after Dumoulin’s goal.
The IceCaps regained the lead on the ensuing power play when Josh Lunden picked up a loose puck behind the net and wrapped around the near post to beat Mannino for a 2-1 lead.
The Penguins did gain two power play chances in the third period but failed to capitalize on either. On the night they were 0-for-6 with the man advantage and have yet to score on 20 power play opportunities in the series.
“It’s not about getting chances anymore,” Dumoulin said. “We have to score.”
For what it’s worth, Zolnierczyk said, one positive is the Penguins know what is wrong - discipline and power play scoring, so they know what needs to be fixed before Saturday’s Game 5.
“We need one on the power play to get us going. If they get one, we have to make sure we ante up as well,” Zolnierczyk said. “Losing that special teams battle has put us in a bit of a spot.”
- G Eric Hartzell, D Peter Merth, D Reid McNeill (injury), C Nick Drazenovic (injury), RW Chuck Kobasew (injury), D Nick D’Agostino, D Harrison Ruopp, C Andrew Ebbett (injury), C Dominik Uher (injury), C Adam Payerl, RW Pierre-Luc Letourneau0Leblond, RW Bryan Rust, RW Josh Archibald, LW Scott Wilson and D Dustin Stevenson were scratched for the Penguins.
- C Mike Carman left the game in the third period after taking an elbow to the head from Andrew Gordon along the boards.
- Hynes said he expects to get some of his injured players back for Game 5. Leading scorer Chuck Kobasew, who has missed the last three games, is a possibility to return, Hynes said.
St. John’s 2 Penguins 1
St. John’s `0` 1` 1` — 2
Penguins` 0` 0` 1` — 1
Scoring – None. Penalties – STJ, Cormier (holding) 7:39; WBS, Kostopoulos (interference) 8:05; STJ, Mouillierat (cross-checking) 12:47; WBS, Machacek (holding) 17:08; STJ, Kichton (high-sticking) 19:15.
Scoring – 1. STJ, Will O’Neill (Gordon, Mouillierat) 19:33. Penalties – WBS, Kuhnhackl (tripping) :50; WBS, Mikkelson (cross-checking) 3:05; STJ, Chiarot (holding) 6:12; WBS, Despres (cross-checking) 11:56; WBS, Megna (hooking) 17:46; WBS, Sill (high-sticking, double-minor) 18:53.
Scoring – 2. WBS, Brian Dumoulin 3 (Machacek, Despres) power play 6:48. 3. STJ, Josh Lunden 1 (O’Neill, Chiarot) power play 9:19. Penalties – STJ, Gordon (elbowing) 1:10; WBS, Mikkelson (roughing) 7:48; STJ, Mouillierat (interference) 10:33.
Shots on goal
St. John’s - 5-19-7-31
Penguins – 5-2-11-18
St. John’s – 2 of 9
Penguins – 0 of 6
St. John’s – Michael Hutchinson 10-4 (17 saves - 18 shots)
Penguins – Peter Mannino 8-7 (29-31)
St. John’s – G Michael Hutchinson, D Will O’Neill, D Zach Redmond, LW Jason Jaffray, C John Albert, RW Andrew Gordon
Penguins – G Peter Mannino, D Brian Dumoulin, D Simon Despres, LW Harry Zolnierczyk, C Zach Sill, RW Bobby Farnham
1. STJ, Josh Lunden (game-winning goal) 2. WBS, Peter Mannino (29 saves, two goals allowed) 3. STJ, Michael Hutchinson (17 saves, one goal allowed)
Referee – Mark Lemelin, Geno Binda. Linesmen – Trent Knorr, Jud Ritter
Attendance – 3,382