Pens Eliminated From Playoffs After Blowout Loss
The Utica Comets entered the game with only three wins since late February and had nothing to play for except pride.
That was all the motivation they needed to send the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ 16-year playoff streak to a fight-filled end on Friday.
Reid Boucher completed a hat trick during Utica’s six-goal second period, and the teams engaged in seven fights during an 8-1 rout at Adirondack Bank Center.
Jarrett Burton scored the lone goal for the Penguins, who lost their third game in a row and needed to win out this weekend to have a chance to play for the Calder Cup. As long as Providence doesn’t surrender a huge goal differential to Lehigh Valley in its final two games, the Bruins will have the final Atlantic Division berth.
The game fell completely apart in the second period.
The Penguins entered down 1-0, but allowed three more tallies in the first 10:58. Burton quickly answered to give the team a little light, but Boucher’s hat trick goal on an ensuing 5-on-3 power play was a dagger.
From there, the punches game fast and furious. The teams fought five times total in the frame, with Burton, Jimmy Hayes, Ben Sexton, Joseph Crammarossa and Matt Abt all engaging in scraps.
■ It’ll get lost given the final score, but Utica goaltender Marek Mazanec was great when tested — including on a couple of odd-man rushes — and stopped 25 of 26 Penguins shots. He was star No. 3.
■ Tom Pyatt scored and had two assists in the third period, en route to second-star honors for the Comets.
■ No surprise here — Boucher’s four points gave him 62 in only 55 AHL games this season. He was the easy choice as star No. 1.
Stat to know
Boucher’s hat trick was the first allowed by the Penguins since April 8, 2016, when Lehigh Valley defenseman Adam Comrie scored three times in a 4-0 game at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton wasn’t competitive for the majority of the first two periods, which will unfortunately be magnified given the game’s importance. With the team’s playoff chances officially over, it would be a good idea to play a lot of its ATO signees the final two contests to give them more AHL experience.
■ Matt O’Connor, who joined the team Wednesday, was the backup goaltender and played the final 20 minutes in relief of John Muse.
Boston College product Michael Kim also got a start on the blue line.
■ The Penguins were able to evade the dubious distinction of allowing 10 or more goals in consecutive games.
Per AHL Vice President of Communications Jason Chaimovitch, the last AHL team to do that was the Binghamton Rangers in 1996.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton faces Bridgeport at 7:05 p.m. tonight at Mohegan Sun Arena on Fan Appreciation Night.
Contact the writer:
@CVPiccotti on Twitter
Penguins 0 1 0 — 1 Utica1 6 1 — 8 First period: Scoring - 1, Utica, Gadjovich (Jasek, Hamilton), 2:57. Penalties - Utica, Graham, cross-checking 13:10; WBS, Miletic, tripping 16:30.
Second period: Scoring - 2, Utica, Boucher (Gaunce), 1:38; 3, Utica, Pyatt (MacEwen, Kero), 4:17 (PP); 4, Utica, Boucher (Pyatt, Graham), 10:58; 5, WBS, Burton (Johnson), 11:39; 6, Utica, BOucher (Kero, Pyatt), 12:59 (PP) 7, Utica, Jasek (Gaunce, Graham), 16:55 (PP); 8, Utica, Lind (Gaunce, Jasek), 18:55. Penalties - WBS, Lucchini, roughing 2:52; Utica, Jasek, holding 8:24; WBS, Hayes, fighting 10:33; Utica, Darcy, fighting 10:33; WBS, Abt, holding 12:22; WBS, Czuczman, roughing 12:34; WBS, Sexton, fighting 14:08; Utica, Gadjovich, fighting 14:08; WBS, Burton, fighting 15:05; Utica, Hamilton, fighting 15:05; WBS, Cramarossa, cross-checking and fighting 16:08; Utica, Anselmini, fighting 16:08; WBS, Abt, fighting 16:55; Utica, Woods, fighting 16:55.
Third period: Scoring - 9, Utica, Sifers (Bancks, Hamilton), 2:45 (SH). Penalties - WBS, Lafferty, fighting 0:30; Utica, MacEwen, fighting 0:30; WBS, Blandisi, instigating, fighting, 10-minute misconduct (instigating) and game misconduct (instigator minor served by Brown) 0:40; Utica, Kero, fighting 0:40; Utica, Thow, slashing 1:12; Utica, Anselmini, cross-checking 4:31; WBS, Sexton, boarding 8:27; WBS, Sexton, high-sticking 8:27; Utica, LeBlanc, interference 14:34.
Shots on goal: WBS 8 9 9 - 26; Utica 14 17 10 - 41.
Power-play opportunities: WBS 0 for 5; Utica 3 for 8.
Referees: Brandon Schrader and Ben O’Quinn. Linesmen: Mike Emanatian and Matt Brady.