Power play woes doom Pens

Mar. 27—WBS comes up empty 7 times on man-advantage.

WILKES-BARRE TWP. — It’s not as if they didn’t find chances.

They outshot the rival Hershey Bears, 31-26, in the game and 20-11 from one point near the midpoint of the second period on.

They had seven opportunities to cash in on power plays.

They even had a goalie making clutch saves to keep them close.

In the end, none of it mattered much to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, who found a lot of things Friday night, except the back of the net.

Zach Fucale stopped 30 shots, and veteran Matt Moulson’s power play goal with 9:57 left proved to be the difference in the Bears’ 3-1 triumph over the Penguins at Mohegan Sun Arena.

The Penguins went 0 for 7 on the power play, and their lone goal came on a one timer by Jordy Bellerive that beat Fucale to his left and tied the game 1:34 into the third period that looked like it shifted momentum definitively toward the home club.

However, it did little to spark a unit that slumped when the Penguins needed it most.

“They have a really aggressive penalty kill, and if you’re not executing passes and pucks are bobbling, and you don’t bear down and get pucks off the wall and break that pressure, it’s going to be tough,” Penguins coach J.D. Forrest said. “We just didn’t do that. It really didn’t seem like we were connecting on those passes, or making flat ones. We just seemed to be under pressure all the time.”

The two goals that made the difference for Hershey were really products of Penguins mistakes, and they were all that blemished Alex D’Orio’s second appearance.

D’Orio stopped 23 shots and turned away several prime scoring chances for the Bears. But there was no way to answer Philippe Maillet’s first period breakaway goal. The crafty 28-year-old coming off a five-assist outing Wednesday snuck behind a lurking defenseman, took a feed from a fresh-out-of-the-penalty-box winger Kale Kessy and ripped a wrister past D’Orio for the 1-0 edge.

The closing minutes of the second period, though, belonged to the Penguins, who took 11 of the final 15 shots in the frame, including near a miss on a redirect from Felix Robert, and breakaways by Luke Stevens and Tim Schaller that didn’t connect.

Shot after shot didn’t result in any goals, until Bellerive one-timed a hard pass out of the corner from Sam Miletic in the third to tie it.

“I think any shot is a good shot,” Bellerive said. “Obviously, we’d like to generate more Grade-As and whatnot, but we’re really trying to get pucks in the net and up the ice. I think that’s where we’re going to become successful.”

The Penguins continued to control the game until defenseman Zach Trotman went to the box for interference and the penalty kill finally had a misstep. Failing to clear the puck when it had a shot to do so early in the power play, Hershey finally made good. Maillet fired a pass past a pair of Penguins defenders and found Moulson, the former Islander who wristed the pass over D’Orio’s left shoulder.

Even a pair of power play opportunities, back-to-back, just moments after the Moulson goal, couldn’t get the Penguins enough life.

“We obviously need to be better, and we know that,” Bellerive said. “We want to come out next game and capitalize on our opportunities. They’re huge for us. We know that we’ll be bearing down.”

Hershey 1 0 2 — 3

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 0 0 1 — 1

1st Period: Scoring — 1, Hershey, Maillet 1 (Kessy, Pinho), 13:21.

Penalties — Maillet Her (tripping), 1:38; Joseph Wbs (slashing), 7:37; Kessy Her (slashing), 11:12.

2nd Period:

Penalties — Snively Her (holding), 10:04; Lee Wbs (hooking), 11:51; Stevens Wbs (slashing), 19:15.

3rd Period: Scoring — 2, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Bellerive 6 (Miletic, Lee), 1:34. 3, Hershey, Moulson 5 (Maillet, Snively), 10:03 (PP). 4, Hershey, Clark 6 (Pinho), 18:55 (EN).

Penalties — LaDue Her (hooking), 4:24; Trotman Wbs (interference), 8:42; Moulson Her (slashing), 11:45; Gersich Her (tripping), 13:47; Maillet Her (unsportsmanlike conduct), 18:55.

Shots on Goal: Hershey 10-9-7-26. WBS 7-15-9-31.

Power Play Opportunities: Hershey 1 for 4; WBS 0 for 7.

Goalies: Hershey, Fucale 5-1-0 (31 shots-30 saves). WBA, D’Orio 0-1-0 (25 shots-23 saves).

Attendance: 1,245

Referees: Terry Koharski (10), Rob Hennessey (87).

Linesmen: Tyler Loftus (11), John Rey (16).

Three stars

1. Hershey, Matt Moulson, 1 goal

2. Hershey, Zach Fucale, 30 saves

3. Penguins, Alex D’Orio, 23 saves

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