WILKES-BARRE, PA – Losers of nine of their last 13, The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins were looking for a big win over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms Wednesday night. However, as has been the case lately, they didn’t get any breaks. T.J. Brennan and Tyrell Goulbourne had a goal and an assist, and Dustin Tokarski made 32 saves to lead the Phantoms to a 5-4 victory.
In recent times, the Penguins have been forced to play from behind. On Wednesday night, that story played out again, as Brennan struck just 2:57 into the game. The goal, however, didn’t come without controversy. Nicolas Aube-Kubel collided with Jean-Sebastien Dea at the side of the net, and Dea collided with Penguins’ Goaltender Casey DeSmith.
With DeSmith severely out of position, Brennan fired a point shot into the completely open cage. The Penguins protested, but after a conference, the goal was made to stand.
The Phantoms weren’t done, as late in the period and on the power play, a Mike Vecchione centering pass deflected off of Frank Corrado and past DeSmith. It was the rookies’ 8th tally of the season.
The second period saw what may be the weirdest sequence of the AHL season so far. Colin Smith took a between the legs feed from Garrett Wilson at 56 seconds to halve the Lehigh Valley Lead. Gage Quinney then collected an errant Jarred Tinordi shot and stuffed it past Tokarski to tie the game at 10:54.
After 1:09 of back and forth action, what followed was three goals in the span of a minute and 54 seconds.
Goulbourne scored on a breakaway at 12:03, but again, there was more controversy. As the puck crossed the goal line, it appeared the net had raised off the pegs that hold the net down, meaning Goulbourne looked like he tucked the puck into the side of the net, rather than between the posts. That goal, too, would count and gave Lehigh Valley a 3-2 lead.
Just 97 seconds later, former Penguin Chris Conner buried the rebound on a two-on-one with Radel Fazleev. Off the ensuing faceoff, Wilson scored on a breakaway of his own 17 seconds later, catching the Lehigh Valley blue liners asleep at the wheel.
The third saw each team collect 10 shots, but it was an empty-netter that proved to be the game-winner. The Phantoms’ Maxim LaMarche scored from just inside the red line at 18:49 because of bad timing with DeSmith heading off for an extra attacker.
With 11.7 left, rookie Adam Johnson scored his third of the season, breaking in on net, taking a nifty feed from Teddy Blueger, and getting the puck past Tokarski. It was the Penguins’ 10th loss in 14 games following a five-game winning streak.
The Pens will play the Hartford Wolf Pack Friday night at 7:05.
Notes: The contest was Garrett Wilson’s 300th AHL game.
3) WBS-Garrett Wilson (Goal, Assist)
2) WBS-Gage Quinney (Goal, Assist)
1) LV-Chris Conner (Goal)
Up Next: The Penguins finish the homestand when they host the Hartford Wolf Pack Friday at 7:05 P.M.