Source: Tom Venesky | Times Leader
Oskar Sundqvist on Pens’ penalty troubles
WILKES-BARRE TWP. — Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins coach Clark Donatelli doesn’t always expect the calls to go his way. It’s just how the game is.
But when the calls cost his team the game — or in Saturday’s case a chance to come back — Donatelli really starts to question things.
After spotting the Lehigh Valley Phantoms a three-goal lead, the Penguins chipped away in the third period before coming up short in a 3-2 loss. The Phantoms narrowed the Penguins’ division lead to three points and the teams are now even, 4-4, in the season series with four games remaining.
The Penguins killed off two Lehigh Valley two-man advantages on the night, but a series of penalties late in the third period burned up precious time as they attempted to rally.
“We took some penalties we can’t be taking — offensive zone sticking penalties,” Donatelli said. “You get a feel for how the refs are calling the game, and you have to adapt to it. I don’t think we did a real good job adapting to it.”
But in some cases it was out of the Penguins’ hands, such as when Ryan Haggerty was knocked into Phantoms netminder Anthony Stolarz and called for goaltender interference in the first period. Or in the third, while the Penguins were trailing 3-1, and Josh Archibald was hit with a slashing call after he tapped Stolarz and dropped him to the ice.
Donatelli wondered about the Archibald penalty.
“I get the call. Maybe Archie hits him, but I don’t think he hit him that hard that he spun him like an umbrella in a 360 then he falls down like a building,” Donatelli said. “There’s got to be something there.”
Needless to say, Stolarz wasn’t hurt on the play and skated to the bench for the extra attacker.
After spotting the Phantoms a 1-0 lead in the first, the Penguins began to battle back in the second. But they were stung quickly as Lehigh Valley struck twice in a 15-second span to gain a commanding 3-0 lead.
With Frank Corrado tangled up with his own goalie, Tristan Jarry, in the crease, Lehigh Valley’s Reece Willcox lifted a shot into the top of the net to make it 2-0.
Seconds later, Danick Martel connected on a turnaround shot before Jarry could react, and the Penguins were down by three.
The line of Oskar Sundqvist, Thomas Di Pauli and Josh Archibald was on the ice for both goals. Sundqvist said there was no excuse.
“That 15 seconds wasn’t good for us. It cost us the game,” he said. “Me and my line need to be better in the defensive zone.”
Despite outshooting the Phantoms 21-8 in the period, the Penguins were in a deep hole heading into the third.
Tom Kostopoulos got the Penguins on the board when he put home a pass from Dominik Simon during a power play early in the final period.
With the score 3-1, the Penguins looked to chip away, but their momentum was stopped thanks to a couple more penalties. Brett Stern went off for hooking following by the slashing call to Archibald on Stolarz.
The two calls found the Penguins killing off a Phantoms two-man advantage for a second time on the night, this time for 52 seconds, followed by the remainder of Archibald’s penalty.
With six minutes left, Di Pauli was called for tripping to put the Penguins on the penalty kill for the third straight time after they had made it 3-1.
“We were playing well, building some momentum, and then it knocks us back down,” Donatelli said. “It was self-inflicted.”
But the Penguins weren’t done.
During the Phantoms’ power play, Sundqvist forced a turnover in the neutral and beat Stolarz on a breakaway to cut the lead to 3-2 with five minutes left.
With less than two minutes remaining, the Penguins went on the power play after Scott Laughton slashed Kostopoulos.
The Penguins unleashed a flurry of shots but couldn’t beat Stolarz again.
• In the last 11 games, the Penguins have had 22 power plays while their opponents had 40. They are 5-6 in that span.
“We’re watching it,” Donatelli said. “The physical, battle penalties we can live with. The sticking penalties, lazy penalties, we have to clean up.”
• Troy Josephs played in his first pro game on Saturday and availed himself well, keeping up with the pace and throwing several hits along the boards.
“He can skate. He’s a really good prospect,” Donatelli said. “For his first pro game, he did really well.”
Reach Tom Venesky at 570-991-6395 or on Twitter @TomVeneskycomments powered by Disqus