Wade Flaherty returned to the scene of his finest hour and once again disappointed the Wilkes-Barre faithful.
Flaherty made 27 saves, barely missing out on his league-leading fourth shutout of the season, to lead Manitoba to a 3-1 victory over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Friday evening, finally handing the Penguins their first regulation loss of the season after 23 games and a 20-0-2-1 start.
Two years ago, Flaherty won the Jack Butterfield Trophy as the MVP of the 2004 Calder Cup Playoffs as he backstopped Milwaukee to the championship in a four-game sweep over Wilkes-Barre. The decisive Game 4 was played at the Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza.
Manitoba led for nearly the entire evening, as Craig Darby scored on a power play 1:59 into the game. Defenseman Tomas Mojzis scored on another man advantage in the final minute of the first period, and Jimmy Roy added a shorthanded tally in the second.
The Penguins, who were averaging better than four goals per game on the year, avoided the shutout when Konstantin Koltsov scored with 17 seconds left. Dany Sabourin made 18 saves in the loss.
Elsewhere on Friday:
Hershey closed to within five points of the Penguins in the East Division as Tomas Fleischmann scored on a shorthanded penalty shot and added two assists for the Bears in a 6-4 win at Binghamton… Adam Hauser stopped 34 shots as Manchester took over sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division with a 3-1 win over Portland… Travis Roche and Braydon Coburn scored in the final 81 seconds of regulation to cap a furious rally as Chicago swiped a 6-5 decision from Peoria… Carl Corazzini scored twice for Norfolk in a 5-2 win over Bridgeport… Stefan Ruzicka led the offense with two goals and an assist in Philadelphia’s 6-1 rout of Albany… Roman Voloshenko scored twice and Kirby Law recorded four points (1g, 3a) as Houston spoiled Ryan Miller’s first conditioning start with a 5-2 win over Rochester… Tom Cavanagh and Steve Bernier picked up a goal and an assist each and Nolan Schaefer made 32 saves in his AHL return as Cleveland defeated Toronto, 5-2… Colin Forbes scored twice and ex-Bruin Keith Aucoin registered three assists to lead Lowell to a 3-2 win over Providence… Nigel Dawes scored on both of his shootout attempts and Ty Conklin, in his first action since Nov. 3, made 34 saves to lead Hartford over Springfield, 4-3… Brian Boucher made 34 saves for San Antonio in a 2-1 road win over Iowa, the Rampage’s second win in nine tries away from home this year (and second in Des Moines)… Francis Lemieux scored midway through the third period and Andrei Kostitsyn and James Sanford converted in the shootout to give Hamilton a 2-1 win over Syracuse, ending a five-game winless streak… Darren Haydar tallied two goals and an assist to lead Milwaukee past Grand Rapids, 5-2.