WILKES-BARRE TWP. – For the second straight night, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ offense failed to surface.
This time it was against the Rochester Americans, who came to town on Saturday with a six-game win streak.
Led by goaltender Nathan Lieuwen, the Americans extended their win streak to seven with a 4-0 shutout over the Penguins. The loss, coupled with a Norfolk win on Saturday, drops the Penguins into a tie with the Admirals for second place in the East Division.
It marked the second time in the last four games that the Penguins were shut out, and the fifth time in the last six that they failed to score more than one goal.
And it gets worse.
With an 0-for-5 showing on the power play, the Penguins are now scoreless in their last 36 times with the man advantage, dating back seven games to Jan. 18.
Hynes attributed the Penguins’ problems on the power play to a lack of offensive zone time and execution. For the scoring woes in general, he had this synopsis: “We’re not getting a lot of five-on-five scoring, we haven’t gotten any productuon from the power play and, on top of that, we’ve played some very good teams with NHL-caliber goaltending.”
While goaltending has been a strong point for the Penguins of late, netminder Eric Hartzell’s night got off to a rough start in the opening minutes. With the Penguins unable to clear the puck out of their zone, Rochester sent a shot on net that Hartzell saved but allowed a rebound out to Luke Adam, who slammed it home to put the Americans up 1-0.
Six minutes later, the Americans made it 2-0 when Joel Armia fed a pass down low to Frederick Roy, who slid a backhander into the net.
That brought Hartzell’s night to an early end as Hynes decided to replace him with Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers. Hartzell stopped three of five shots on the night.
“You get down that quick, and as a group we weren’t going, so sometimes when you make that switch and it heightens awareness,” Hynes said. “Tonight, it didn’t have much difference in the game.”
The Penguins had several chances to get back into the game as Rochester was whistled for three consecutive penalties in the first and second periods. But the Penguins power play, which has been a problem for the last few weeks, failed to connect on the trio of chances.
While the power play sputtered, the Penguins penalty kill came up big in the second period, killing off 39 seconds of a two-man advantage and a four-minute Rochester power play midway through the period.
Deslauriers helped the cause with several strong saves, including a stop on a wrist shot from a wide open Alex Hutchings at the corner.
Through the first two periods, the Penguins killed off five Rochester power plays and appeared to be getting back into the game. That hope was dealt a blow, however, when Deslauriers kicked out a rebound into the right faceoff circle that was slammed home by Rochester’s Johan Larsson to make it 3-0 at the end of the period.
The Penguins did come close to getting on the board in the third period during their fourth power play of the night when Tom Kostopoulos had two point-blank shots at an open net that were both saved by Lieuwen.
The current drought has dwindled the Penguins power play percentage to a meager 12.9 percent — second worst in the AHL. At home, the Penguins’ 12.1 power play percentage is at the bottom of the league.
• D Brian Dumoulin (injury), C Zach Sill (injury), C Zack Torquato and C Adam Payerl (injury) were scratched for the Penguins. Dumoulin was injured in Friday’s game against Norfolk and Hynes said he is week-to-week.
• The Penguins are now 1-2 during their current five-game homestand.
Rochester 4, Penguins 0
Scoring – 1. RCH, Luke Adam 19 (Irwin, Ristolainen) 1:21. 2. RCH, Frederick Roy 4 (Armia, Bagnall) 7:46. Penalties – WBS, Farnham (boarding) 4:41; RCH, Pysyk (tripping) 8:50; RCH, Pysyk (cross-checking) 19:41.
Scoring – 3. RCH Johan Larsson 6 (Adam, Irwin) 18:24. Penalties – RCH, Crawford (interference) 5:26; WBS, Despres (goaltender interference) 6:11; WBS, Leblond (roughing, cross-checking) 7:32; RCH, Adam (tripping) 8:55; WBS, Kostopoulos (goaltender interference) 8:55; RCH, Roy (fighting) 12:58; WBS, Farnham (fighting) 12:58; WBS, Drazenovic (tripping) 14:09.
Scoring – 4. RCH, Joel Armia 5 (Roy) 18:49. Penalties – RCH, Armia (high-sticking) 10:16; WBS, Leblond (misconduct) 12:11; RCH, Bagnall (roughing, unsportsmanlike conduct) 19:04; WBS, Zolnierczyk (roughing) 19:04.
Shots on goal
Rochester – 9-6-7-22
Penguins – 6-10-10-26
Rochester – 0 of 5
Penguins – 0 of 5
Rochester – Nathan Lieuwen 10-6-1 (26 saves – 26 shots)
Penguins – Eric Hartzell 9-5-1 (3-5); Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers – 7:46 of the first period (15-17)
Rochester – D Mark Pysyk, D Brayden McNabb, LW Tim Schaller, C Luke Adam, RW Jamie ZTardif
Penguins – D Philip Samuelsson, D Simon Despres, LW Harry Zolnierczyk, C Nick Drazenovic, RW Dominik Uher
1. RCH, Nathan Lieuwen (shutout) 2. RCH, Luke Adam (goal, assist) 3. Frederick Roy (goal, assist)
Referee – Chris Ciamaga, Jean-Philippe Sylvain. Linesmen – Bill Lyons, Scott Pomento
Attendance – 6,902