WILKES-BARRE, PA — Conventional wisdom says that in hockey, if you get six power plays, you’ll be converting on more than one. That same wisdom says that if you give up six power plays, giving up two shorthanded goals probably won’t end well.
Both of those things happened to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Saturday night, as Warren Foegele and Phil Di Giuseppe each scored twice, both of Foegele’s goals being shorthanded to spoil the Penguins’ season opener, 5-2.
Both teams had some chances in the early part of the first, with Charlotte dominating the first five minutes or so. The Penguins’ Daniel Sprong cashed in at the 7:40 mark, streaking down the right wing on the power play and beating Checkers’ netminder Jeremy Smith far to the stick side for his first of the year.
The Penguins’ nearly made it 2-0 just before Charlotte tied it when rookie Adam Johnson found Christian Thomas from behind the net, but Smith snuffed out the chance. Valentin Zykov tied it seconds later. Off a faceoff, Julien Gauthier tapped the puck to Zykov, who fired the puck through a screened Tristan Jarry.
The middle frame is where the game unraveled for the Penguins. Charlotte got four power play chances, including a brief five-on-three. While they didn’t convert on the power plays, all the man-advantage time simply wore Wilkes-Barre/Scranton down.
The Penguins took a brief lead at 14:46 of the period with a shorthanded goal. Teddy Blueger picked off an Aleksi Saarela and found Thomas DiPauli streaking down the slot. Smith stopped the initial wrister, but DiPauli got his rebound and lifted the puck over the outstretched goalie.
Less than four minutes later, Di Giuseppe collected his rebound and backhanded it past Jarry to tie the game. 51 seconds later, Foegele gave the visitors’ a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. A Penguins player got caught up ice on a power play, allowing Foegele and Nicolas Roy to convert on a two-on-one chance against Blueger. Rather than pass, Foegele wired a shot from the right circle that found the back of the net.
In the third, Foegele beat Jarry five-hole on a shorthanded Breakaway and Di Giuseppe scored an empty-netter from 175 feet away to ice the game.
Notes: Defenseman Jordan Trotman left in the first period and did not return with an unspecified injury. If he’s out any length of time, it could cause a headache for coach Clark Donatelli. Pittsburgh Defenseman Ian Cole blocked a shot with his face last night and required major dental work. It’s possible, probably even likely, that a call-up is coming. With Trotman’s injury, that could leave Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in a tough spot.
@SinBinPenguins Three Stars:
3) WBS-Thomas DiPauli (Goal)
2) CHA-Lucas Wallmark (Two assists)
1) Warren Foegele (Two goals)
The Penguins start a stretch of three games in three days with the first of a back-to-back against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms Friday, October 13th at 7:05 at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.