WILKES-BARRE TWP. – The Penguins gained a point, but they couldn't earn a win against the Norfolk Admirals on Saturday.
After taking an early 1-0 lead, the Penguins allowed Norfolk to carry the game into overtime where a penalty led to an Admirals power play goal and a 3-2 defeat.
The loss is the Penguins ninth in their last 10 games, seven of which have come against East Division opponents. Their record now stands at 14-13-2-1, and by earning the overtime point, the Penguins move to within three points of Hershey for third place in the division.
Head coach John Hynes said his team had some bright spots on Saturday, but there are areas that need improving as well.
We did a lot of good things. With that said, we've got to be able to execute well enough, for long periods of time, to be able to come out with a win versus one point and a tie, he said.
The Penguins got off to a good start with a goal from Brian Gibbons four minutes into the first period. Gibbons lofted a wrister from high in the slot that beat Norfolk's Igor Bobkov on the far side to make it 1-0.
The goal was Gibbons' first since Nov. 25.
It was the start we wanted to get off to. We were doing the right things and had some opportunities to get a bigger lead, Hynes said.
But heading into the second period the Penguins lead remained at one, and Norfolk regained control. They outshot the Penguins 13-6 and ultimately took the lead with goals from Chris Wagner and Peter Holland. Late in the period Holland stole the puck at the blueline for a breakaway and beat Jeff Zatkoff high on the glove side to make it 2-1.
But the Admirals' lead was brief.
Less than a minute after Holland's goal, the Penguins answered with a nifty faceoff play deep in the Norfolk end. Trevor Smith won the draw and pushed the puck ahead before throwing a pass into the low slot. Jayson Megna was there to redirect the puck past Bobkov to make it 2-2.
The Penguins ended the period on the penalty kill, and Zatkoff came up big with seconds left. Norfolk's Kyle Palmieri, stationed in the corner, threw a shot in front that deflected off several players and on net. Zatkoff reacted quickly and kicked the puck away to close out the period with a 2-2 tie.
Although the Penguins evened things up late, the odds were against them going into the third period. When tied after two periods of play, the Penguins came into the game 0-11-1-0 this season.
The Penguins came close several times in the third – the best chance was a Smith shot toward the far post that Bobkov poked away with the tip of his skate.
A tripping call against Norfolk with less than five minutes to play gave the Penguins a chance to retake the lead, but Bobkov made several good saves during the ensuing power play to keep things knotted at 2-2 and force overtime.
A hooking penalty to Benn Ferriero put the Admirals on the power play, and Patrick Maroon scored form in close for the 3-2 win.
Hynes didn't say if the call was right or wrong. What mattered more, he said, is his team couldn't erase the Norfolk power play and return to four-on-four play.
The referee called it and when we're in that situation you'd like to find a way to kill it, he said. We didn't find a way to execute well enough there to hold serve and get ourselves back to four-on-four, Hynes said.
• D Dylan Reese, D Joey Mormina, LW Beau Bennett (injury), RW Tom Kuhnhackl (injury), C Dominik Uher, D Alex Grant and RW Keven Veilleux (injury) were scratched for the Penguins.
First Period: Scoring – 1. WBS, Brian Gibbons 4 (Samuelsson, Morrow) 4:14. Penalties – NOR, Guentzel (hooking) 8:50; NOR, Palmieri (slashing) 12:05; WBS, Farnham (goaltender interference) 19:38.
Second Period: Scoring – 2. NOR, Chris Wagner 3 (Guentzel, Bodie) 6:06. 3. NOR, Peter Holland 12 unassisted 16:33. 4. WBS, Jayson Megna 3 (Smith) 17:19. Penalties – WBS, Peters (high-sticking) 18:55.
Third Period: Scoring – None. Penalties – WBS, bench – served by Holzapfel (too many men) 12:18; NOR, Maroon (tripping) 15:39.
Overtime: Scoring – NOR, Patrick Maroon 9 (Holland, Palmieri) power play 1:21. Penalties – WBS, Ferriero (hooking) :27.
Shots on goal: Norfolk – 7-13-5-3-28. Penguins – 11-6-8-0-25.
Power-play Opportunities: Norfolk – 1 of 4. Penguins – 0 of 3.
Goaltenders: Norfolk – Igor Bobkov 7-8-0 (23 saves-25 shots). Penguins – Jeff Zatkoff 11-9-1 (25-28)
Starters: Norfolk – G Igor Bobkov, D Jordan Hendry, D Sami Vatanen, LW Patrick Maroon, C Peter Holland, RW Emerson Etem. Penguins – G Jeff Zatkoff, D Brian Strait, D Robert Bortuzzo, LW Phil Dupuis, C Warren Peters, RW Riley Holzapfel
Three Stars: 1. NOR, Patrick Maroon (goal) 2. NOR, Peter Holland (goal) 3. WBS, Jayson Megna (goal)
Referee – Geno Binda. Linesmen – Scott Adams, Matt McNulty
Attendance – 5,101