WILKES-BARRE TWP. — It appeared the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins had avoided disaster when Cole Schneider’s breakaway attempt sailed high over the shoulder of Tristan Jarry in the second period.
The next odd-man rush didn’t work out quite as well.
Moments after Schneider’s misfire, Steven Fogarty beat Jarry short-side on a 2-on-1, and the Hartford Wolf Pack rode that momentum to another goal a little more than two minutes later and a 3-2 victory at Mohegan Sun Arena on Saturday. Sam Lafferty and Zach Trotman scored for the Penguins, who had to settle for a two-game split with Hartford and dipped to 6-3-0-1.
“We weren’t smooth, we weren’t crisp,” Penguins head coach Clark Donatelli said. “We weren’t executing. We were working hard, but just the puck was bouncing … and we just couldn’t capitalize on some of our chances.”
Like on Friday, Hartford (5-7-1-0) took an early lead on a power-play goal when Fogarty found space at the left doorstep and knocked in a seeing-eye pass from Peter Holland.
And like on Friday, the Penguins quickly answered as Ryan haggerty’s shot caught Lafferty and bounced past goaltender Marek Mazanec and into the net..
Real estate on the ice was scarce for much of the next 20 or so minutes, but a key 4-on-4 sequence allowed Hartford to capitalize. Fogarty streaked down the right side and beat Jarry with a snipe over the goaltender’s shoulder for his second of the game.
Bobby Butler crept behind the Penguins defense soon after and deposited another Holland pass into the cage for a 3-1 lead.
Trotman’s booming slap shot got Wilkes-Barre/Scranton within one, but that was as close as the team would get.
The Penguins fought back in the third, but Mazanec didn’t flinch. Not even on a shorthanded breakaway attempt for Garrett Wilson with 11:30 remaining, which the Penguins captain fired right into his pads after a deke to the left.
Two penalties stalled any momentum Wilkes-Barre/Scranton had generated.
“Look at the past two games, and we’ve taken so many penalties,” Trotman said. “I think the timing of the penalties, taking two towards the end of the third period when we’ve got a push going, that makes a big influence on the game.”
Jarry, making his second start in as many nights, went to the bench with about a minute and a half remaining, but Mazanec slid over just in time to stop Lafferty’s shot from the point and seal the victory.
It was a game in which Trotman said it felt like the Penguins controlled the tempo, but a couple of the gaffes they made just proved too costly.
“They didn’t have Grade A (chances) all night,” Trotman said. “I don’t think that team can outplay us. I think that we’re a better team than them, and I think when we play our game like we did 5-on-5 tonight, and even on our power plays, they shouldn’t get a sniff around us.
“I felt like we played a good game most of the time, and then there’s just those couple minutes, couple mistakes and lapses, and we just put ourselves behind the eight ball.”
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Source: The Associated Press