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Posted on Sat, Jan. 01, 2005
Ouellet-led line stars for Pens
By STEVE SEMBRAT
WILKES-BARRE TWP. - While left wing Michel Ouellet's game began with
defense, it certainly didn't end that way on Friday.
Ouellet completed a hat trick with a breakaway goal with 3.9 seconds
left, putting the finishing touch on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's 5-1
victory over Bridgeport in front of a New Year's Eve crowd of 8,162
at Wachovia Arena.
Overall, the line of Ouellet, center Kris Beech and right wing Matt
Murley continued to be a dominant force for the Penguins, accounting
for four of the five goals. However, Ouellet said that isn't the
first thought of the trio.
"We're playing well," Ouellet said of his line. "Every night we're
giving our team a chance to win starting with our defensive play
Ouellet may begin 2005 as the leading goal scorer in the American
Hockey League. He now has 24 on the season, and the league leader
heading into play on Friday was Manchester's Mike Cammalleri with 22.
Manchester's game wasn't complete as of press time.
More important to the Penguins, though, was the impact the game had
in the standings, as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (17-8-4-3, 41 points)
helped its cause.
The top four teams in the East Division of the AHL's Eastern
Conference make the playoffs. The Penguins picked up one point on
first-place Philadelphia (47 points), which lost in a shootout to
Hershey. Norfolk, Binghamton and the Penguins are bunched together
for second through forth. Games involving Norfolk (40 points) and
Binghamton (39 points) weren't complete as of deadline.
The victory also put distance between Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and
Bridgeport (15-16-1-0, 31 points), as the Sound Tigers entered Friday
tied for fifth with Hershey (which moved ahead of Bridgeport into
fifth with 33 points).
"This will help us for the playoffs," Ouellet said. "It's good to put
some distance between us and them."
Ouellet made it 1-0, scoring on a rebound one minute into the second
period, one second after a Penguins power play had expired. The play
started when Kris Beech sent a pass from behind the net to defenseman
Ross Lupaschuk near the top of the right faceoff circle. Lupaschuk
got off a blast that Bridgeport goalie Wade Dubielewicz stopped, but
couldn't smother. Dubielewicz stopped a rebound try by Tomas Surovy,
but was helpless when Ouellet, just outside the left post, poked in
The Sound Tigers tied the score on a quick wrist shot by Steve Regier
at 7:57 of the second period.
The Penguins regained the lead a little more than one minute later on
a goal by Murley. Dubielewicz stopped an initial shot from the blue
line by defenseman Alain Nasreddine, but Murley got the rebound and
fired in a shot at 9:03. It was his eighth goal of the season.
The Penguins put the game away with three goals in the final period.
The first was a highlight-reel play by Ouellet, Murley and Beech.
Beech brought the puck down the left wing on a rush and fed it to
Murley, who was near the front of the goal. Rather than shoot, Murley
redirected the puck across the front of the net toward the right
post, where Ouellet, who was streaking toward the net, tipped it in.
Colby Armstrong made it 4-1 with a power-play goal 16:47 of the
third, making a nifty move to pop a shot past Dubielewicz. Ouellet
completed the scoring, threading a shot between Dubielewicz's pads.
Center Maxime Talbot returned to the Penguins lineup after missing
five games with a shoulder injury. Still out is center Shane Endicott
with a hand injury. Defenseman Darcy Robinson was a healthy scratch
for the Penguins.
Bridgeport dressed just 16 skaters, two short of the maximum allowed
because of injury. Out for the Sound Tigers were defenseman Cole
Jarrett (separated shoulder), defenseman Keith Aldridge (flu), center
Blaine Down (post-concussion syndrome), right wing Sean Bergenheim
(sprained ankle), center Justin Papineau (separated shoulder), right
wing Rob Collins (knee), defenseman Richard Seeley (post-concussion
syndrome), left wing Barrett Heinsten (groin) and center Justin
Mapletoft (sprained wrist). Left wing Matt Koalska returned to the
lineup for Bridgeport after having been out since Thanksgiving with a
Since the Sound Tigers had just five healthy defensemen, Graham
Belak, normally a left wing, played some defense for the first time
this season. Most of Bridgeport's injuries until recently had been to
the forward line.
The game on Friday marked the end of a stretch during which the
Penguins played nine of 10 games at Wachovia Arena. They went 8-2
during that stretch. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's next three games are on
the road: 7 p.m. today at Springfield, 7:05 p.m. Wednesday at
Worcester, and 7:05 p.m. Friday at Binghamton. The Penguins next home
game in at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 8, against Philadelphia.
The goal by Bridgeport's Steve Regier in the second period snapped a
modest shutout streak of 93 minutes, 52 seconds for Penguins goalie
Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury was coming off a 1-0 shutout of Portland on
The three stars were: 1. Ouellet, 2. Armstrong, 3. Murley.
Oullet registers second hat trick of season
Before Friday night's game, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins showed
a year-end highlights package on the scoreboard at the Wachovia Arena.
The presentation ended with one sentence splashed across the
screen: "The pieces are in place."
Normally, it would be easy to dismiss the rosy new slogan as a piece
of team-issued propaganda, but these days, it seems to ring true.
After a 5-1 victory over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Penguins
are clearly one of the hottest teams in the American Hockey League.
They've won eight of their last 10 and look like the kind of team
that could be a factor even when the 2005 calendar gets closer to
As he has so many times in the past month, Michel Ouellet led the way
for the Penguins. He had his second hat trick of the month Friday
night. He also potted three goals seven games ago against the
Ouellet has 12 goals in his last 10 games and with 24 on the season,
has moved two goals ahead of Manchester's Mike Cammalleri for the
league lead in the category.
The line of Ouellet, Kris Beech and Matt Murley accounted for the
first three Penguins goals Friday.
After Bridgeport goalie Wade Dubielewicz turned in an outstanding
first period to keep the game scoreless, Ouellet struck one minute
into the second.
Ross Lupaschuk took a shot from the top of the right faceoff circle,
leaving a rebound sitting in the crease. Dubielewicz stopped Tomas
Surovy's attempt at knocking in the rebound, but he couldn't keep
Ouellet from shuffling a second chance past him.
The Sound Tigers have been decimated by injuries at a staggering pace
lately and were missing nine players, including their top three
scorers, because they were hurt or sick Friday night.
Still, they found a way to knot the score 1-1 midway through the
Steve Regier popped open with the puck at the right hash mark and
whipped a shot on net. Marc-Andre Fleury had a chance to snap the
shot out of the air, but it eluded his glove and trickled over the
The tie lasted all of 64 seconds, however.
Beech won a faceoff to Alain Nasreddine at the right point in the
Sound Tigers zone. Nasreddine's shot was blocked in the slot, but
Murley picked up the loose puck with his back to the goal, wheeled
around and slung a shot along the ice and into the net.
Murley is heating up. He has a three-game goal-scoring streak in
progress and has 11 points in his last six games.
Ouellet struck again seven minutes into the third period, taking a
cross-crease pass from Murley and tapping it into an essentially
empty net to give the Penguins a 3-1 lead.
Colby Armstrong added a power-play goal later in the third on an
impressive individual effort, skating down the left wing, faking to
his forehand and beating Dubielewicz with a tricky backhand shot to
the short side.
Ouellet finished off his hat trick with 3.9 seconds left in the game,
scooping up a loose puck in the neutral zone and breaking Dubielewicz
five-hole on a breakaway.