MANCHESTER, N.H. – After arriving in the Granite State with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Thursday evening, Pens goaltender Jeff Zatkoff headed off to dinner with a few of his former teammates who still wear the sweater of the Manchester Monarchs.
Little did his ex-mates know that, one night later, Zatkoff would serve them with the cold dish of revenge.
Zatkoff made 33 saves to shut out the Monarchs 3-0 on Friday night at Verizon Wireless Arena.
A former third-round draft pick (2006) of Manchester's Los Angeles parent club, Zatkoff signed with the Pittsburgh organization as a free agent over the summer. The 25-year-old netminder couldn't have scripted a better return to his old stomping grounds.
The shutout was an added bonus, he said after the victory. I had this game circled for a while since I signed in Pittsburgh and I saw that we were playing here. And just to come back and play your old team, you want to kind of leave your mark here. And the fact that we came out of here and got two points and the way the team battled, especially in the second and third period – I thought we responded well from the first – it's a great night.
Zatkoff admitted to some nerves early in the game. But a couple early shots on net by the Monarchs got the goaltender into the flow. Despite getting outshot, 13-8, in the first period, the Pens made it to the intermission in a scoreless game because of Zatkoff's heroics.
That was nice. I think he was excited when we told him that he was going to start and you could see early in the game, the first couple shifts, Manchester came at us hard, he had some good saves for us and he had a very good game, said head coach John Hynes, whose team has won three of its last four heading into a game Sunday at Bridgeport.
The Pens made sure Zatkoff's efforts didn't go to waste.
Erik Tangradi added to his team-leading goal total with his sixth score of the year. Tangradi buried a rebound on a power play at 3:42 of the second period. Dylan Reese cashed in on the man-advantage as well, with a slap shot from the right point that eluded Martin Jones at 8:41 of the second.
Paul Thompson, a New Hampshire native, sealed the victory with an empty-net goal.
First Period: None.
Second Period: 1. PENS Tangrandi (Smith, Ferriero), 3:42; 2. PENS, Reese (Dumoulin, Dupuis), 8:41.
Third Period: 3. PENS, Thompson (Peters), 19:19.
Shots: PENS 29, MAN 33.
Saves: PENS 33 (Zatkoff), MAN 26 (Martin). Three Stars: 1. PENS - 37 Jeff Zatkoff 2. PENS - 25 Eric Tangradi 3. MAN - 31 Martin Jones.