Rowney Receives Team MVP, Scores Only Goal in 3-1 Loss
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. - Before the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins' dropped the puck on their final home game of the season, Carter Rowney was awarded the team's MVP. He backed up that choice by scoring the team's only goal in a 3-1 loss to the Providence Bruins on Saturday night at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
Rowney and the Penguins put forth a dominant, 20-shot first period much to the delight of the fans in attendance, but ultimately the Bruins battled back to win a tightly contested Atlantic Division tussle.
"I thought our start was good," said Penguins head coach Clark Donatelli. "You could see that we came to play. Their goalie came up with some big saves keeping us at bay, but Casey (DeSmith) made some big stops for us in the first, too... All around, that was just a good hockey game."
Jake Guentzel set up Rowney for the game's first goal at 14:12 of the opening frame. Guenztel, an ATO rookie, recorded a point in back-to-back games for the first time in his AHL career.
The Bruins tied the game on their fourth power play of the evening when Alexander Khokhlachev floated a pass over the body of Steve Oleksy and onto the tape of Austin Czarnik who put it into the back of the Penguins' net at 15:50 of the second period.
It took a perfect play by the Bruins like Czarnik's equalizer to snap Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's perfect penalty kill streak against Providence's AHL-best power play.
"I don't think there was anything we could have done on that one," Donatelli said. "You have to give them credit. That was one heck of a play."
The Penguins had gone 28-for-28 on the season against the Bruins on the penalty kill prior to Czarnik's goal.
Khokhlachev and Czarnik combined once again for a go-ahead goal at 4:30 of the third period.
The Penguins pressed hard for a tying tally with the goalie pulled, but Frank Vatrano sealed the victory by scoring an empty net goal - his 35th goal in 35 AHL games - with only 0.2 seconds left in the contest.
Providence finished the game one-for-four on the power play, whereas Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was unable to convert on any of its six mad advantages scattered throughout the game.
Both goalies faced 31 shots, but Providence's Jeremy Smith made 30 saves to DeSmith's 29.
With the 3-1 loss, the Penguins guaranteed that they will face the Bruins in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs. However, the first must contend with the Hershey Bears at Giant Center in the season finale tomorrow afternoon. Puck drop between the Penguins and Bears is scheduled for 4:00 p.m.
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