With the AHL All-Star break behind them, the IceCaps hit the road for a six-game road trip. After struggling for the majority of their homestand in January, the team needed to regroup in a hurry, because it was full speed ahead this weekend, with three games in three days.
Up first: the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. There is quite the point gap between these two teams. Not only were the Penguins leading the AHL in wins, they had a healthy lead in the Atlantic Division with 69 points (33-9-3-0), while over in the North Division, the IceCaps continue to sit in third with 46 points (20-18-5-1).
Thanks to some regular Montreal Canadiens making their returns to health, forward Daniel Carr and defenceman Zach Redmond made their first IceCaps appearances since November, after both were reassigned earlier this week.
The IceCaps started the game strong, potting the first goal on their first shot. Just 62 seconds in, Ryan Johnston went top shelf on Tristan Jarry, with Chris Terry and Charles Hudon grabbing the assists.
Ryan Johnston opens the scoring for the IceCaps with a quick wrist shot from the top of the circle. pic.twitter.com/1eiE8OsXiD— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) February 4, 2017
The Penguins fought back quickly, when a nice little give-and-go between former-Hab Tom Kostopoulos and Ethan Prow allowed the latter to toss the puck up and over Charlie Lindgren’s blocker, tying it up just two minutes later.
The post was Jarry’s guardian angel during the rest of the period with Nikita Scherbak and Carr fooling the netminder but not the crossbar on three occasions between them.
With 10 minutes left, Yannick Veilleux took a seat in the box for interference. The Pens took full advantage, snatching the lead after a slapshot from the point by Derrick Pouliot found its way behind Lindgren.
The IceCaps managed to bottleneck the Pens offence and slow their pace during the middle frame. After an icing call on the Penguins, Carr flicked one through traffic to tie it up with Terry and Hudon picking up the helpers yet again.
Daniel Carr's quick wrist shot ties the game at 2-2. pic.twitter.com/F9uVgo01aP— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) February 4, 2017
A heavy hit on Steve Olesky by Bobby Farnham after the whistle caused some tempers to flare, and everyone wanted in on the action.
Stefan Matteau came out on the losing end of a fight with Patrick McGrath, was slapped with a five-minute fighting major, and headed to the dressing room with what looked like a bloody eye. The IceCaps managed to kill off a four-minute double-minor penalty being served by Michael McCarron for roughing, so they headed into the final frame deadlocked at 2-2.
Early in the third, the IceCaps jumped back into the lead. After another icing call, McCarron won the faceoff and quickly drove the puck past Jarry to take the lead.
With both Scherbak and Redmond serving penalties, the Penguins had a two-man advantage for 1:35. They had great puck movement and a few close calls, but Lindgren played his part and helped his team stay in the lead.
At the 14-minute mark, Carr ensured St. John’s would have a more effective power play, notching the insurance goal. For good measure, former-Penguin Farnham wrapped it up with an empty-netter with 56 seconds left to make it a healthy 5-2 victory.
- Michael McCarron (1G, 2A) - STJ
- Tom Kostopoulos (2A) - WBS
- Daniel Carr (2G) - STJ
The IceCaps continue their weekend with a two-game series against the Hershey Bears tonight and Sunday afternoon.