Penguins forward Anthony Angello wouldn’t say Wednesday’s 6-3 loss to the Charlotte Checkers marked a low point to the season so far. But both he and head coach Mike Vellucci agree that Wilkes-Barre/Scranton needs to play tougher and more disciplined to get out of its funk.
This game started promising for the Penguins, who scored twice against the league’s top penalty kill and took a 3-2 lead in the second period. However, Steven Lorentz and Morgan Geekie answered with goals over a five-minute stretch to help Charlotte roar back en route to a key divisional win.
The Penguins (17-15-3-2) have lost five straight, including four on their homestand, and fell further behind the fifth-place Checkers in the Atlantic standings.
Charlotte, which has won six in a row, took advantage of those miscues, scoring on a shorthanded breakaway as well as a couple chances with its forwards left unmarked in front of the net.
The Penguins have now given up six goals in three straight games, and Angello said they aren’t the type of team that benefits from such high-scoring games. That’s even more true now, with top scorer Andrew Agozzino recalled to Pittsburgh and off the top line.
Vellucci said they need to focus on their small-area game in practice, as they are not creative enough on 5-on-5 chances.
Charlotte 1 3 2 — 6 Penguins 1 2 0 — 3
- First period: Scoring – 1, Cha, Gust (Kuokkanen, Lorentz), 0:40; 2, WBS, Cassels (Joseph, Bellerive), 13:10 (PP). Penalties – Cha, Claesson, boarding 11:43; Cha, Lorentz, goaltender interference 14:06.
- Second period: Scoring – 3, Cha, Bishop (Claesson), 1:55 (SH); 4, WBS, Angello (Warsofsky, Johnson), 3:28 (PP); 5, WBS, Johnson (Angello), 8:35; 6, Cha, Lorentz (Kuokkanen, Gust), 11:42; 7, Cha, Geekie (Gauthier, Priskie), 16:33 (PP). Penalties – WBS, Berger, high-sticking 0:55; Cha, Bean, hooking 1:33; Cha, bench, unsportsmanlike conduct (served by Kuokkanen) 1:33; WBS, Di Pauli, delay of game 15:24.
- Third period: Scoring – 8, Cha, Gauthier (Forsling, McCormick), 8:44; 9, Cha, Lorentz (Gibbons), 14:39 (EN). Penalties – Cha, Bishop roughing (double minor) 18:54; WBS, Di Pauli, roughing (double minor) 18:54.
- Shots on goal: Cha 10 11 8 – 29; WBS 8 10 12 – 30.
- Goaltenders: Cha, Nedeljkovic (27 saves on 30 shots); WBS, DeSmith (23 saves on 28 shots)
- Power-play opportunities: Cha 1 for 2; WBS 2 for 4.
- Referees: Brandon Schrader and Tim Mayer. Linesmen: J.P. Waleski and Jud Ritter.
- Attendance: 3,390.
- Charlotte F Lorentz, two goals and an assist
- Charlotte F Julien Gauthier, goal and an assist
- Charlotte F David Gust, goal and assist
• Penguins defenseman and captain David Warsofsky returned from injury and made his first start since Dec. 14.
• Pittsburgh placed forward Joseph Blandisi on waivers Wednesday. He has five points in 21 NHL games this season.
The Penguins are back on home ice Friday at 7:05 p.m. to take on the Hershey Bears.
Tyler Piccotti has covered the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for Times-Shamrock newspapers since 2017. In the Penguins Insider blog, he provides a look at NEPA’s only professional hockey team, sharing analysis and insights that go beyond the game sheet. A 2015 graduate of Syracuse University, he also has written for Bleacher Report, The Post-Standard and Lacrosse Magazine. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-821-2000; @CVPiccotti