Braden Holtby earns the night off, and Dany Sabourin – who hadn’t started a game since December 7, also at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton – jumps in with a 26-save effort in a 4-1 HERSHEY victory.
Coach Mark French talked to me about execution yesterday, and the fact that the BEARS did well on one side of the coin (defense) but not the other side. Tonight, the defense was nearly perfect once again. That does not seem to be the issue. One can tell that the new defensive system is working. Offensively, if you want to observe the fact that the BEARS only fashioned 19 shots on goal and still continue to struggle getting such shots on net, be my guest. I agree with you. It is indeed still a problem. But the BEARS are generating QUALITY shots lately, and are capitalizing on many of them.
Garrett Mitchell freed himself up at the right goal post to backhand a Zach Hamill pass behind Jeff Zatkoff, opening the scoring at nearly the same time he did on Wednesday. Quality shot #1 goes in.
Steve Oleksy jumps into a three-on-two rush with Mitchell and Taffe, collects a perfect Taffe drop pass, and rips a wrist shot over Zatkoff’s blocker from between the hash marks for his first goal with HERSHEY. Quality shot goes in.
Mathieu Beaudoin sets up Boyd Kane for a backdoor tap-in into an empty net but Kane just missed it to the right. Kane recovers, feeds Evan Barlow who in turn finds Beaudoin uncovered at the left post. Slam dunk, quality shot goes in.
Kane then converts a pass from Mattias Sjogren with a snap shot under the crossbar from the right circle behind backup goaltender Brad Thiessen. Quality shot goes in.
Four goals on 19 shots = 21% shooting success. That, my friends, is NOT bad. Not to mention it destroys save percentages of opposing goaltenders.
Speaking of goaltenders – Dany Sabourin deserved one of the stars of the game tonight. He saw the puck so well through traffic, made several saves without allowing a rebound, and calmed his team down in front of him. He came within one shot of helping the BEARS post back-to-back shutouts.
Sabourin evened his record at 4-4-0 with the win… and his last three wins have all come against the Penguins (12/27. 12/7 and 10/28).
The BEARS, who came into tonight’s game ranked third in goals against per game, have held their opponent to one goal or less in six of their last seven games.
And to wrap things up on a happy bus ride back home, the BEARS are winners of six in a row on the road – the longest active road win streak in the AHL.
Albany comes to town for the BEARS’ final game of 2012 on Saturday. Let’s fill GIANT Center and help the boys wrap up what has been a great month on a winning note!
Tonight’s box score is available here.
See you Saturday fans! GO BEARS!!!