The Worcester Sharks took on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for a two game home series and split the games. The Sharks are still battling for a playoff spot and could have used two wins, but will settle for the two points from winning the first game of the match-up. The teams in the Eastern Conference are bunched so close that one or two points can make all the difference.
On Wednesday, the Sharks took on the Penguins for their second meeting of the season, the first in Worcester. In the first meeting, the Penguins kept the Sharks from scoring and the Sharks did not want that to happen again. The first period seemed to go on forever as the referees called seven penalties between the two teams. Despite the penalties, the period ended scoreless. The Sharks would start the second period on the powerplay.
It only Marek Viedensky sixteen seconds in the second period to get a puck behind Penguins goalie Jeff Zatkoff. The Sharks had struggled scoring on the powerplay at home but that would not be the case in this game. Later that period, Daniil Tarasov also added a powerplay strike for his ninth goal of the year. Once again, Tarasov proved that he had an eye for the puck and knew what to do when he got it. But, the powerplay goals did not end there. Recent addition to the blue line, Adam Comrie, notched a powerplay goal in the third period with a rocket of a shot from the point. Veteran forward Bracken Kearns also scored two goals in the third, one of which came on the powerplay. The Sharks went 4-for-8 with the man advantage to seal a 5-1 victory over the Penguins.
Comrie’s goal was his first as a Shark as he also notched three assists for four points on the night. He has proven to be a good addition to the Sharks defense and is not afraid to take shots. Kearns notched his team leading 16th and 17th goals of the season, providing a much needed veteran presence. It was a good win for the Sharks and it appeared they would not need to make a lot of changes going into the game Friday.
The Friday night match up between the Worcester Sharks and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins came around and it was clear that the Penguins showed up for the two points. In this game, the powerplay would work in the favor of the Penguins instead of the Sharks.
The Penguins went up 3-0 by the beginning of the second, with goals coming from Dylan Reese and Chad Kolarik, both on the powerplay, and Paul Thompson. But just fourteen seconds after Thompson beat Sharks goalie Harri Sateri, Yanni Gourde scored his 8th goal of the season for the Sharks. He had recently spent time in the ECHL and has wasted no timing proving his slump that got him sent down is over. But shortly after Gourde cut the Penguins lead to 3-1, there was a lot of pushing and shoving around the Penguins goal and James Livingston had to leave the game. He had been cut across the cheek, but would return to the game at the end of that same period.
The teams would go to their locker rooms with the Penguins up 4-1 after a goal from Riley Holzapfel. A couple minutes into the third period, Livingston scored his sixth goal of the season, showing he had not been hurt that badly and trying to spark the Sharks for a comeback. Jon Matsumoto added a goal with about five minutes to go in the game, making the score just 4-3 in favor of the Penguins. But, despite a late effort that was as close as it get. The Sharks had a bit of good fortune when, towards the end of the game, the Penguins got called for two penalties. It was a 6 on 3 chance for the Sharks with fifty second left as the Sharks opted to pull Sateri. But they could not convert and gave up an empty net goal. Daniil Tarasov got called for a penalty, sending the face-off back the Sharks end. They opted to take the face-off with Sateri still pulled from the net and the Penguins capitalized with ten seconds left to win 5-3.
The Worcester Sharks have a rare Saturday and Sunday off from games and will be back at it next weekend with a three-in-three weekend. Goaltender Harri Sateri has now played the last four games with Alex Stalock still recalled to San Jose to act as backup while Thomas Greiss is unable to play. The Sharks also went both games against the Penguins without a fighting major. With both Saturday and Sunday off, the Sharks will have games in hand on the teams they are trying to overcome for a playoff spot and will hopefully turn those games into points.