There is a lot about this Springfield Falcons team that makes you go, “wow” – some examples:
–> Top 5 in both penalty kill (4th) and power play (5th) coming into tonight.
–> Not a single player on the roster a minus in +/-.
–> Five players with 10 or more points. Comparatively, the Penguins have none.
–> Team with the fewest goals allowed (17) coming into tonight.
–> Have a goaltender in Curtis McElhinney which leads the AHL in shutouts, and many other statistical categories.
Someone forgot to tell Beau Bennett.
Riding two goals from the rookie, the Pens hold on and defeat the Springfield Falcons 2-1 tonight dealing the Falcons just their second loss of the season in regulation. It may be too early in the season to call this a “statement game” but by all senses of the word, it was. The Penguins played a solid 60 minutes of hockey this evening and they won the game.
Jeff Zatkoff vs. Curtis McElhinney – Keven Veilleux made his debut, Brian Strait was
benched scratched for this game.
First Period: By all accounts, the Penguins won this game in the first 15:40 of the period, as they did not allow the Falcons a shot on goal until then, meanwhile taking 11 or 12 of their own. It was a forechecking and puck possession clinic by the Penguins. They worked a full line change while in the Falcons offensive zone. Rookie Dominik Uher just grinded opponents, forechecking any Falcon player with the puck and driving them backwards. The Penguins did not score this period, but “worked the game backwards” it seemed by not allowing Springfield to do basically anything.
Second Period: Falcons, as you would expect, come out flying. Robert Bortuzzo takes an interference call. In the ensuing power play, Springfield registers five shots on goal. Later. Riley Holzapfel finds Beau Bennett camped out on the far dot and fires a long pass to him he deposits very quickly into the net behind McElhinney. Just a laser beam shot. More buzzing by Springfield. Penguins do not bat an eyelash. Again, Beau Bennett corrals a bouncing puck and scores his second of the night to make it 2-0.
About this period: According to the Falcons, this was the first game all year an opposing player has scored two goals in a game vs. the Falcons and Curtis McElhinney’s shutout streak ended at 166:40.
Third Period: This tweet sums up the period:
(replace “put” with out – I often misspell words when tweeting a game on my iPhone)
And this one, but with a few other players too, but this one stuck out:
Rinse and repeat all period. Falcons took 11 shots this frame and finally got one with 1:47 to go when Nick Holden fired a shot from just below the blueline that Tomas Kubalik deflected.
Falcons, with McElhinney pulled, never got the equalizer.
Three Stars: 3) Jeff Zatkoff (25 saves on 26 shots) 2) Riley Holzapfel (two assists, +2) and 1) Beau Bennett (two goals, +2)
Keven Veilleux looked okay in his first game back and fought Dalton Prout in the first period and earned a takedown.
The Penguins are over .500 for the first time all season.
Around the Division: They all watched us.
Standings: Syracuse 16 — Norfolk 14 — Penguins 14 — Binghamton 12 — Hershey 11
Conference: 1) SPR (18) 2) SYR (16) 3) WOR (16) 4) BRI (16) 5) MCH (15) 6) NOR (14) 7) WBS (14) 8) BNG (12)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off tonight.
SendtoNews Highlights: Are here. This is a new thing that I am incorporating, so the video highlights may be uploaded later.
Penguins back at it Friday when they welcome the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Gameday for that will be up here on the blog Friday afternoon at 3 p.m.