NORFOLK, Va. – Down by two goals and having just staved off a strong attempt at a third, Pens’ goalie Jeff Deslauriers was mad as … well, you know … and he wasn’t going to take it anymore.
With just over six minutes played in the second period Friday, Norfolk’s Zach Stortini crashed the Penguin net in search of a rebound of Max Souve’s shot and yet another goal.
Before the next puck was dropped, Deslauriers and Admiral counterpart John Gibson were engaged in a rarity at the red line: two goalies fighting alone, while teammates and most of the crowd stood and showed various forms of approval.
When it was over, Deslauriers was greeted with a game misconduct, along with other sentences, and watched while backup Eric Hartzell finished a 4-1 loss to the Admirals, the Pens’ third in as many games this season.
“All of the games have been close, hard-fought contests, and they just found a way to win,” Pens coach John Hynes said. “We found a way to lose.”
The Pens earned a second-period goal by Zach Still that cut Norfolk’s edge to 2-1, but three straight power plays to open the third period were of no help. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton managed only two shots for those three man-advantage situations.
Later in the period, the Pens’ Nick Drazenovic was assessed a hooking penalty, and Norfolk’s Devante Smith-Pelly scored his second power play goal of the game to make it 3-1.
John Kurtz and David Steckel scored the other Admiral goals.
The importance of the game – Norfolk pulled to within a point of the Pens in the East – stood out.
“The whole game was critical,” Hynes said.
The goalie fight stood out.
“I haven’t seen that,” Hynes said.
Stortini is a fighter of some repute, and Deslauriers decided he had taken liberties in the crease. The goalie delivered a right hand to Stortini’s head, but the hand was gloved and had little impact. It did, however, incite a reprisal from, of all people, Gibson.
He delivered a bit of a shove when the clubs skated to their benches for a cooling-off period and to allow radio stations to sell some advertising time while officials deliberated the sentences..
When the teams broke their huddles, Deslauriers shoved Gibson, who replied in kind. The two grappled and then Gibson flipped the Pens goalie on his back, judo-style. While surrogates scrapped a bit, the focus remained on the goalies, who skated off the ice to await their sentences.
After yet another cooling off period, Deslauriers was greeted with a game misconduct, along with a list of misdemeanors.
Hartzell was quickly tested by Steve Whitney’s power-play shot and withstood the pressure. The Penguins regained control and earned Sill’s goal when he tipped in a pass from Brian Dumoulin at 17:46 of the second.
Norfolk continues to be a Wilkes-Barre nemesis, owning an 8-3 record over the past six seasons and 19-7-0-2 over the past four.
The Pens get a chance to whittle that down tonight in the second game of a two-game weekend series with their East rivals.
Admirals 4, Penguins 1
Scoring-1, Norfolk, Smith-Pelly 13 (Grant, Vatanen), 14:32 (PP). 2, Norfolk, Kurtz 4 (Exelby, Vatanen), 18:04. Penalties-Cramarossa Nor (holding), 7:37; Kostopoulos Wbs (tripping), 13:51.
Scoring-3, W-B/Scranton, Sill 3 (Dumoulin, Mikkelson), 17:46. Penalties-Deslauriers Wbs (roughing, roughing, fighting, game misconduct - continuing altercation), 6:09; Letourneau-Leblond Wbs (roughing), 6:09; Exelby Nor (roughing), 6:09; Gibson Nor (roughing, roughing), 6:09; Stortini Nor (slashing), 6:09; Stortini Nor (unsportsmanlike conduct), 13:52; McNeill Wbs (fighting), 18:36; Ezekiel Nor (fighting), 18:36; served by Laganiere Nor (bench minor - unsportsmanlike conduct), 20:00.
Scoring-4, Norfolk, Smith-Pelly 14 (Etem, Friberg), 13:23 (PP). 5, Norfolk, Steckel 5 (Etem), 18:16 (EN). Penalties-Whitney Nor (holding), 3:44; Blacker Nor (interference), 6:18; Drazenovic Wbs (hooking), 12:38; Letourneau-Leblond Wbs (fighting), 19:58; Yonkman Nor (fighting), 19:58.
Shots on Goal
Power Play Opportunities
W-B/Scranton 0 / 5
Norfolk 2 / 3
W-B/Scranton, Deslauriers 16-11-2 (8 shots-6 saves); Hartzell 7-2-1 (9 shots-8 saves)
Norfolk, Gibson 13-9-4 (21 shots-20 saves).
Referee-Steve Patafie (85).
Linesmen-Mark Hamlett (81), Jud Ritter (34).