Chirps from Center Ice

A fan blog about the AHL's Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins

Category Archives: Postgamer

Penguin Power! — Pens WIN 4-0

SYR        vs.        WBS

0                                             4

The Penguins are one win away from the second round after a 4-0 whitewash of the Syracuse Crunch. Matt Murray picked up a shutout with a 27 save performance, the Penguins struck for three times on the power play and the Syracuse Crunch have scored just one goal in the series as it shifts back to Syracuse for what can be a decisive Game 3 for the Penguins if they continue doing what they have been doing.

Penguins made one lineup change from the night before, swapping J-S Dea in for Matia Marcantuoni at fourth line center. Everything else was status quo. Matt Murray opposed Kristers Gudlevskis.

First Period: Penguins got to the power play quickly on a Carter Ashton slash. Yanni Gourde broke in unabated and Murray made a huge pad stop. Back the other way. Jayson Megna cashed for a rebound goal off of a Conor Sheary shot off of the back board which Andrew Ebbett corralled and chipped over to Megna for the power play tally.

Penguins would take two penalties after that but would kill them fairly easily. The period was dominated by power plays to either side. To this point, passes were being made and connecting but the finish wasn’t there. The Penguins finally would win the special teams battle with…

… A Carter Rowney redirect of a Josh Archibald offering that made it 2-0 on a power play and again with…

… A goal credited to Tom Kostopoulos as time expired that went in off of Luke Witkowski and in as the clock hit zero for a 3-0 Penguin lead.

Second Period: Syracuse outshot the Penguins 11-6 in the period and at times had Wilkes-Barre running around a bit. Crunch had the benefit of two power plays in the period but the Penguins were able to kill them.

Third Period: Penguins sat on the lead a bit, had better looks offensively compared to the second. Jayson Megna and Bobby Farnham had some great chances with Farnham’s coming on a breakaway. Wilkes-Barre adds another goal on a Kasperi Kapanen shot that banked in off of Crunch defenseman Joey Mormina’s stick and in. Mormina was back as Kapanen was sprung, Kasperi made a move and the momentum of that coupled with the poke check by Mormina pulled Gudlevskis out of position enough for the puck to trickle over the line and in.

Three Stars: 3) Carter Rowney (goal, even) 2) Jayson Megna (goal, even) and 1) Matt Murray (27 save shutout)

Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference: Manchester and Hershey tale 2-0 series leads against Portland and Worcester with 6-2 and 3-1 wins, respectively. Providence beats Hartford 2-1 in Game 2 which knots that series at 1-1.

Wheeling Update: Nailers lose 2-1 and need to win in Game 6 Tuesday in Toledo else their season is over.

Penguins may get the services of Taylor Chorney, Brian Dumoulin, Derrick Pouliot and Scott Wilson in time for Game 3. Watch Twitter and/or Facebook for that.

I’ll have the update of the postseason chart big board sometime Sunday afternoon / evening. I’ll tweet a link when I do.

Let’s Go Pens!!!

Clap Along…Because I’m Kappy! — Pens WIN 5-1

SYR        vs.        WBS

1                                             5

Maybe I should shut up and just buy into the hype. Maybe it’s just one game in fourteen more that the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins have to win, but Kasperi Kapanen’s two goals out of the three scored by the Penguins in 1:40 in the second period is enough to propel the Penguins to a 5-1 win and a 1-0 series lead. Game 2 tomorrow night in Wilkes-Barre.

I say that, because after his dazzling debut against Lehigh Valley a few weeks ago, one where he scored on his first shot on his second shift, Kapanen hasn’t done many things memorable since. He was scratched last weekend due to injury but maybe that was a godsend to step back and regroup and take things in on video and learn. Tonight he was spectacular.

The rest of the Penguins team wasn’t to shabby. Matt Murray made 22 saves on 23 shots to pick up his first postseason win. The Penguins played a disciplined game and beat a good Syracuse side that has not lost 10 of their last 11 games.

The aforementioned Matt Murray vs. Kristers Gudlevskis. Here’s a look at the lines….

Conor Sheary – Andrew Ebbett – Tom Kostopoulos
Josh Archibald – Jayson Megna – Kasperi Kapanen
Tom Kuhnhackl – Carter Rowney – Dominik Uher
Pierre Leblond – Matia Marcantuoni – Bobby Farnham

Scott Harrington – Barry Goers
Reid McNeill – Nick D’Agostino
Ryan Parent – Danny Syvret

Matt Murray – Jeff Zatkoff

Notes: Scott Harrington was re-assigned by Pittsburgh yesterday. Ryan Parent made his Penguins debut. Sean Escobedo took warmups but was scratched. Reid McNeill was back too.

First Period: I said in the Gameday setup that the first period was going to be crucial. You can’t if you are the Penguins give an opponent with a negative goal differential who lost 9 of their last 10 games any breathing room or life in Game 1 of a best of five series.

Well, halfway though, a feeling out process. Scoreless and each side had six shots. Crunch had a power play come and go.

Then the Penguins got what they were looking for. The goal to put them ahead.

Tom Kuhnhackl set up Dominik Uher from smack dab behind the net and Uher smashed it in to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead. Penguins I noticed, really ran at the Syracuse defensemen on the breakouts. Went right at them and caught them flat foot. Evidenced by a Conor Sheary two on one late. Sheary was waiting for a trailing Kostopoulous but took it himself and shot it right into the belly of Gudlevskis.

Second Period: Boom.

Kasperi Kapanen scored to make it 2-0 off of a Jayson Megna offensive face-off win. Kapanen corralled a puck around bodies and roofed it past Gudlevskis for a 2-0 Penguin lead.

Barry Goers cross ice to Carter Rowney perched on the far side low dot for a one timer and in for a 3-0 Penguins lead.

Penguins could smell the blood in the water. Rob Zettler used his time out to try and calm his Syracuse team down.

It didn’t work.

Barry Goers with a pass off the pads to the wrong man at the time, Kapanen, for a 4-0 Wilkes-Barre lead. Floodgates open. Rout on. That would end Gulevskis night and enter Adam Wilcox, all of two games prior of professional hockey experience.

It actually worked, because the Crunch finally settled, the Penguins fell into a lull that always happens at the euphoria of a multi-goal outburst at a given moment and the Crunch got on the board at fourteen minutes on the dot with a Matthew Peca crash of the net goal that slipped under the pads of Murray to make it 4-1.

Third Period: Syracuse controlled the opening eight minutes until a Slater Koekkoek hold that put the Penguins on a power play. The Crunch would kill it but Danny Syvret would score to make it a 5-1 game which basically iced it away. The Crunch would muck it up after every whistle, but the Penguins held on.

Three Stars: 3) Carter Rowney (goal, two assists, +3) 2) Dominik Uher (goal, assist, +2) and 1) Kasperi Kapenen (two goals, +1)

Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference: Hershey gets three goals on a 5:00 major power play late to ice the Worcester Sharks in Game 1 of that series by a score of 4-1. Game 2 goes tomorrow from Massachusetts. Hartford is up 1-0 in their series with Providence and Manchester is up 1-0 in theirs with Portland. Game 2’s all tomorrow there.

Wheeling Update: The Nailers lost 4-1 to the Toledo Walleye in Game 4 which ties that series at two games a piece. Eric Hartzell made 25 saves on 29 shots. Game 5 of that series is Saturday at 7:35.

By now you have heard that the Pittsburgh Penguins lost in overtime to the New York Rangers 2-1 in Game 5, essentially ending their season. I would expect that Taylor Chorney, Brian Dumoulin, Scott Wilson and Derrick Pouliot be reassigned to Coal Street most likely Sunday. Pouliot may take longer because he is recovering from injury. I wouldn’t rule out the Penguins just sending him home and him not coming here, to be honest. I’d be shocked if Chorney, Dumoulin and Wilson are re-assigned and in town for Saturday’s Game 2 vs. Syracuse. You have to give them time to get back to Pittsburgh with the rest of the team, decompress and go through the exit interview process. I would say that if Wilkes-Barre is going to get any help from Pittsburgh in the form of reinforcements, that it comes in time for Game 3 in Syracuse next Wednesday. Who knows.

Gameday for Game 2 vs. Syracuse hits the blog at 3 p.m. as the Pens look for the commanding 2-0 series lead.

Let’s Go Pens!

That Escobedo’d Quickly — Pens WIN 5-1

WBS       @       button_lv200

  5                                       1

If you follow the Penguins, even casually, you know that Head Coach John Hynes and Assistant Coach Alain NAsreddine are all about defense. The Penguins as a team, pride themselves on it.

Well, for the fourth time in five years, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins will have the best defense in all the American Hockey League.

And it was, interestingly enough, a defenseman, that stole the show today. Sean Escobedo had a career day today, scoring a goal and assisting on two others. The Penguins close out the regular season on a winning note, with a 5-1 win over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The Penguins now turn their attention to the Syracuse Crunch, and open up the Calder Cup Playoffs Friday night in Wilkes-Barre.

Jeff Zatkoff opposed Rob Zepp. Here was a look at the lines….

Conor Sheary – Jayson Megna – Josh Archibald
Tom Kuhnhackl – Carter Rowney – Dominik Uher
Bobby Farnham – J-S Dea – Adam Payerl
Pierre Leblond – Matia Marcantuoni

Nick D’Agostino – Barry Goers
Sean Escobedo – Alex Boak
Danny Syvret – Clark Seymour
Steven Shamanski

Jeff Zatkoff – Matt Murray

The Penguins gave Tom Kostopoulos and Andrew Ebbett the afternoon off and went 11 forwards and 7 defensemen.

Prior to the game, the Pens made official the signing of Ryan Parent. Parent is a veteran defenseman with a lot of experience and experience is what the Penguins need, especially on the back end with all of these ECHL guys playing defense. Parent is a great add.

First Period: The Penguins, with pretty much nothing to play for, probably wanted to get a quick lead and give the ECHL rich defense some run. It worked.

Penguins found themselves on a 5-on-3 power play. After a few cycles with nothing, John Hynes called his time out.

J-S Dea cleaned up this rebound….

… that made it 1-0.

Then Tom Kuhnhackl zipped this shot past Zepp as the 5-on-4 power play expired…

It was the first AHL assist for Sean Escobedo.

Pens would successfully kill two consecutive penalties.

Second Period: Bobby Farnham made it 3-0 with this nice side step and back hand off of the wall…

Sean Escobedo had his second assist of the day with that Farnham goal.

Phantoms got on the board with an Olivier Lauridsen shot that beat Zatkoff short side.

Penguins got a power play, but it came and went. Wilkes-Barre bottled up the neutral zone. Jason Akeson tried a shot through bodies that hit too many that deflected away.

Third Period: Escobedo would finish a perfect cross ice pass from Carter Rowney on this power play…

The Penguins continued to pile on the offensive pressure. Josh Archibald took a puck in the corner that drew two men to him. Jayson Megna picked up the loose puck and zipped one home for the 5-1 Penguin lead…

Penguins would have to kill an Adam Payerl double minor for high sticking and did so perfectly. At this point, with the game decided, it was all about not getting hurt and the Penguins came out of it unscathed.

Notes: Tom Kuhnhackl is 5-6-11 in his last nine games. What a surge to end the season by Kuhnhackl….The Penguins ended the season with a 45-24-3-4 record, good for 97 points. That is better than last year when they were 42-26-3-5 and 92 points and was a 6 seed.

Three Stars: 3) Oliver Lauridsen (goal, even) 2) Jeff Zatkoff (28 saves, 29 shots) 1) Sean Escobedo (goal, two assists, +1)

Around the Division: Everyone else was off.

Standings: Hershey 100 — Penguins 97 — Binghamton 76 — Lehigh Valley 74 — Norfolk 64

Conference: 1) MCH (109) 2) HER (100) 3) HFD (95) 4) WBS (97) 5) SYR (92) 6) PRO (91) 7) WOR (88) 8) POR (87)

Wheeling Update: The Nailers come home for Game 3 of the Kelly Cup Playoffs Wednesday with the series tied 1-1.

SendToNews Highlights: May be up later and I may link in then.

Content wise, busy week. Final AHL Power Rankings hit the blog tomorrow. Fourth Quarter Grades will go up at some point this week. Western Conference and Eastern Conference Previews and a Preview of the Syracuse series all coming this week.

Let’s Go Pens!!!

Too Close For Comfort — Pens WIN 5-4

NOR          vs.          WBS

4                                             5

That was dangerously close.

The Penguins, up 5-1 at one point and Jayson Megna scoring the first Penguins home hat trick since 2012, see Norfolk rattle off three straight goals and narrowly hang on to win 5-4 and lock up the four seed and a first round date with the Syracuse Crunch in Round 1 of the Calder Cup Playoffs. Here is a look at the schedule:

Friday 4/24
Saturday 4/25
Wednesday 4/29
Thursday 4/30
Saturday 5/2

Home games in bold. Penguins release here. All games in Wilkes-Barre start at 7:05. The games up in Syracuse start at 7.

Penguins still have a game left tomorrow in Lehigh Valley. Hynes told Tom that he doesn’t plan on resting many guys with the Penguins cemented in the four seed with nothing more to play for. We will see tomorrow.

Before we get ripping on the post game recap, the Norfolk Admirals played their final AHL game tonight.

Norfolk has been an up and down team from my memory. They have either been really really good (28 was in a row and a Calder Cup) or really really bad (this year) – they will play in the ECHL next year as an Edmonton Oilers / Bakersfield Condors affiliate. I have a lot of people that read the blog, shared the blog and linked to the blog. A lot of good people in Virginia. I think that the Admirals of the ECHL will be a force that will need to be reckoned with. Who knows, with all of this shuffling that goes on, maybe you see Norfolk back on the AHL landscape like you saw Winnipeg in 2015. Who knows. No one can take that Calder Cup away from the fans of the Norfolk Admirals. Fans in Wilkes-Barre would give you an eyeball for one. Be proud of what you accomplished and be happy that you still have hockey to watch on Hampton Roads.

Jeff Zatkoff vs. Ryan Faragher

Lines were…

Conor Sheary – Andrew Ebbett – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Kuhnhackl – Carter Rowney – Dominik Uher
Josh Archibald – Jayson Megna – J-S Dea
Pierre Leblond – Matia Marcantuoni – Bobby Farnham

Nick D’Agostino – Barry Goers
Danny Syvret – Steve Shamanski
Sean Escobedo – Alex Boak

Jeff Zatkoff – Matt Murray

Kasperi Kapanen took warmups and was scheduled to skate on the third line with Archibald and Megna but must have been injured because after the game, Hynes told the WBS media that he is day to day. Sean Escobedo was in for Clark Seymour.

Also a report out of St. Johns, Ryan Parent is on his way to Wilkes-Barre. Parent is a defenseman with over 100 NHL games, that was on a PTO with the St. John’s IceCaps. Stability for the Pens vs. dressing a bunch of ECHL guys.

First Period: Jayson Megna would score a power play goal early in front of Faragher that put the Penguins on the board early. The Pens needed this jump because of the clunker they laid last night vs. Albany.

The parade to the penalty box continued for the Admirals, yet they managed to outshoot the Penguins 11-10 in the period and tied the game on a Brandon Montour shot from the point that deflected off of a Penguins player and in for a tie game heading to the…

Second Period: Penguins were in trouble. The entire first four minutes were played in front of Jeff Zatkoff. He held the Admirals out of the net and this was your turning point.

Barry Goers blast at the top of the point. 2-1 Penguins.

Alex Boak breaks up a would be John Kurtz breakaway.

Jayson Megna cashes on a  power play goal. 3-1 Penguins.

At this point, with the Penguins defense and the way that Norfolk wasn’t converting, it was over, right?

Third Period: Wrong.

Tom Kuhnhackl finishes a Dominik Uher pass to make it 4-1. Megna gets hit hat trick that makes it 5-1. The rout is on. The Penguins are clinching home ice and everything is turning up roses….

LOL at you. These are the Cardiac Penguins.

Louis Leblanc roofs one over Zatkoff to make it 5-2 on a power play.

Mike Sgarbossa snakes through everyone and slips one past Zatkoff that makes it 5-3 on another Norfolk power play goal.

Time dwindling, Joe Cramarossa scores with Faragher pulled that makes it 5-4.

Time ultimately won and the Penguins held on for the win.

I bet John Hynes will not be happy with the way that the Penguins almost lost that game.

Three Stars: 3) Tom Kuhnhackl (goal, even) 2) Barry Goers (goal, +1) and 1) Jayson Megna (hat trick, +1)

Around the Division: Hershey wins 5-1 over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and get to 100 points….Binghamton shuts out Rochester 5-0.

Standings: Hershey 100 — Penguins 95 — Binghamton 76 — Lehigh Valley 74 — Norfolk 64

Conference: 1) MCH (109) 2) HER (100) 3) HFD (93) 4) WBS (95) 5) SYR (92) 6) PRO (89) 7) WOR (88) 8) SPR (86)

Wheeling Update: Nailers are all tied up at a game a piece 1-1 as the Toledo Walleye win 2-1 in overtime in Game 2 of the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Game 3 is in Wheeling on Wednesday.

SendToNews Highlights: YouTube instead:

Gameday for the regular season road finale against Lehigh Valley will be up at 1 p.m.

Let’s Go Pens!!!

The Devil You Say? — Pens LOSE 4-0

ALB          vs.          HER

4                                               0

I hate when I foreshadow bad things….

The Albany Devils are locked up in a playoff battle for the eighth and final seed in the Calder Cup Playoffs with three other teams. The Penguins, without key defensemen and some scorers, didn’t match the intensity that the Devils had and fell flat and lost by a score of 4-0 tonight.

Call it a matchup problem. Call it half of the usual defense corps either hurt or on recall to Pittsburgh. Just don’t call it Matt Murray’s fault.

Matt Murray was not named AHL MVP today. That honor went to Manchester’s Brian O’Neill. I can’t explain why a player that was named as a Second Team AHL All-Star was nominated as the league MVP, but the Texas Stars media contingent put it into words nicely. Check that out if you are so inclined.

Anyway, back to matters at hand. The Hershey Bears won 3-2 tonight over the Binghamton Senators and the Bears are the East Division Champions. It really never was or shouldn’t have been in doubt that the Bears were going to win the Division, the Penguins just made it interesting and really controlled their fate the entire time.

Matt Murray opposed Scott Clemmensen, who by rights was great when he needed to be.

Lines were…

Conor Sheary – Andrew Ebbett – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Kuhnhackl – Carter Rowney – Dominik Uher
Josh Archibald – Jayson Megna – Kasperi Kapanen
Pierre Leblond – Matia Marcantuoni – Bobby Farnham

Nick D’Agostino – Barry Goers
Danny Syvret – Alex Boak
Steven Shamanski – Clark Seymour

Matt Murray – Jeff Zatkoff

Remember those days when Barry Goers was the seventh defenseman? Those were the days.

First Period: Historical matchup problems against the Albany Devils coupled with a first period that had absolutely no flow whatsoever played right into the hands of the Devils, who got two goals in the period. The first by Stefan Matteau, swooping in on a puck unmarked to give the Devils a 1-0 lead and again by Joe Whitney, who was the beneficiary of a bad turnover in the neutral zone by the Penguins that made it 2-0.

Second Period: Came and went with no scoring that had better flow. Penguins had some chances but Clemmensen was up to task.

Third Period: Albany quickly made it 3-0 off of a set face-off play. Soon after, a puck banked in off of Murray and it was 4-0 and the rout was on. Penguins called time out after that, looked better, but were held off of the board. Teams traded the only power plays awarded all game late in the third but did not score and that was it.

Three Stars: 3) Stefan Matteau (goal, +2) 2) Darcy Zajac (goal, assist, +2) and 1) Scott Clemmensen (22 save shutout)

Around the Division: You already know about the Bears winning and congrats to them on the East Division Championship. Remarkable turnaround from last season, missing playoffs. Norfolk beat Lehigh Valley in their last ever AHL home game by a score of 4-2. Both teams with long bus rides back to Pennsylvania. Norfolk to Wilkes-Barre, Phantoms to Hershey. I’m guessing Hershey, with the division in hand and the 2 seed locked up, will dress a bunch of new guys against the Phantoms.

Standings: Hershey 98 — Penguins 93 — Lehigh Valley 74 — Binghamton 74 — Norfolk 64

Conference: 1) MCH (107) 2) HER (98) 3) HFD (93) 4) WBS (93) 5) SYR (92) 6) PRO (89) 7) WOR (88) 8) SPR (84)

Syracuse lost in overtime to Adirondack tonight and Worcester beat Providence. Worst that Wilkes-Barre can finish now is fifth. They can lock up the four seed with a win tomorrow and a Syracuse loss for sure. After that, well….I wish I was good at math.

Wheeling Update: The Nailers are off, but they beat the Toledo Walleye Thursday for a 1-0 series lead in that best of seven. Game 2 goes Saturday.

SendToNews Highlights: Aren’t up yet. I wonder if the Penguins will even bother.

Pens back at it against Norfolk tomorrow at 7. Gameday for that up Saturday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!!

Sweep the Poop Deck — Pens WIN 3-1

WBS            @            POR

 3                                                1

You can feel good about this game, I think. A 3-1 Wilkes-Barre win over a desperate Pirates team looking to solidify themselves as a playoff team. A sweep of the season series against the Pirates and more space between fifth place in the conference and inching closer to the Hershey Bears for the Division title.

The Penguins did this with the back up, Jeff Zatkoff and many changes to their lineup.

Boatloads of news pre-game. Scott Harrington and Brian Dumoulin were both recalled to Pittsburgh before the game today. The Penguins skated a defenseman short. Here is a look at the lines…

Andrew Ebbett – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Kuhnhackl – Carter Rowney – Dominik Uher
Bryan Rust – Jayson Megna – Kasperi Kapanen
Pierre Leblond – Matia Marcantuoni – Bobby Farnham and Josh Archibald

Danny Syvret – Clark Seymour
Nick D’Agostino – Alex Boak
Steven Shamanski

Jeff Zatkoff – Matt Murray

Conor Sheary was a scheduled scratch today. Obie said in pre-game that this was the plan, coming off of injury. He is expected back in the lineup Friday at home vs. Albany. Danny Federico took part in the warmups but was scratched. Other notable healthy scratches was Adam Payerl.

Zatkoff opposed Mike McKenna.

First Period: The question of what the Penguins would look like with their two of their best defensemen up in Pittsburgh was answered fairly quickly. The short term answer? OK.

The Penguins haven’t been known at all for their special teams work in wining them hockey games, but it was exactly that which helped them jump out to a two goal lead in the period.

With Bryan Rust in the box for a for a penalty, Josh Archibald read some miscommunication by Portland, stole it and zipped up the ice with a streaking Andrew Ebbett on a two on one, fed Ebbett who scored:

The Penguins then went to a power play, and off of a three on one, Scott Wilson scored this goal:

In the last minute, Bryan Rust was blasted from behind on this unpenalized play…

Second Period: Rust did not return to the ice with the team. Penguins kept things simple playing a defenseman and now a forward down with Rust injured. They were awarded four power plays in the period but unlike the first, were unable to cash on them. New guy Steven Shamanski was one of the players keeping things simple, hit the post. Jayson Megna was robbed twice by excellent saves by Mike McKenna, one on a power play and another on a nice give and go setup by Archibald.

Third Period: There were two tests that I think the Penguins passed with flying colors this period that won them the game. First, the Pirates got the jump on the Penguins to start the period and forced the Penguins into a penalty. They killed it easily.

Then Carter Rowney extended the Penguin lead with this nice blast that made it 3-0.

The second test that the Penguins passed was a full 5-on-3 penalty that refs Chmielewski and Brenk gift wrapped for the home team. Pirates head coach Ray Edawards elected to go with an extra attacker and pulled McKenna. The Penguins and Jeff Zatkoff weathered the storm. They killed it easily. Steve Shamanski hit the post on the empty net just as the penalties expired. McKenna went back in the net on the fly.

Justin Hodgeman scored in a flurry of bodies afterward that spoiled the would be shutout bid Zatkoff had going. They rode steady defense and stayed disciplined from there on out.

Three Stars: 3) Brendan Shinnimin (goal, even) 2) Jeff Zatkoff (29 saves on 30 shots) and 1) Andrew Ebbett (goal, assist, +1)

Around the Division: Everyone else had off.

Standings: Hershey 96 — Penguins 93 — Lehigh Valley 72 — Binghamton 72 — Norfolk 62

Conference: 1) MCH (105) 2) HER (96) 3) HFD (93) 4) WBS (93) 5) SYR (91) 6) PRO (89) 7) WOR (86) 8) POR (83)

Wheeling Update: The Nailers closed out their regular season in Canada with a 4-2 win over the Brampton Beast. Eric Hartzell stopped 31 of 33. The Nailers now prepare for the Toledo Walleye in the Kelly Cup Playoffs.

SendToNews Highlights: Are not up yet, I will look again later as I finish the Power Rankings.

Pens bus home tonight, will probably have off Monday and maybe Tuesday as they prepare to close out the regular season with home games against the Albany Devils and Norfolk Admirals before closing out the regular season in Allentown next Sunday.

The Power Rankings will hit the blog Monday at 4. The chart refresh will update probably before then. I tweet a link around 12:30 Tuesday.

Let’s Go Pens!!!

Third Line at the Right Time — Pens WIN 5-2

WBS            @            POR

 5                                                2

If you have been following the team carefully, you will already know that the third line of Kuhnhackl – Rowney and Uher has been the best line for the Penguins for quite some time. They came through again tonight.

A 5-2 win for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins, a 40 save performance for Matt Murray, a 5-1 St. John’s win over the Hershey Bears and the Penguins still have a boat load to play for.

The aforementioned Matt Murray vs. David Leggio.

Lines were…

Scott Wilson – Andrew Ebbett – Tom Kostopoulos
Conor Sheary – Jayson Megna – Kasperi Kapanen
Tom Kuhnhackl – Carter Rowney – Dominik Uher
Bobby Farnham – Matia Marcantuoni – Bryan Rust

Scott Harrington – Brian Dumoulin
Danny Syvret – Alex Boak
Nick D’Agostino – Clark Seymour

Matt Murray – Jeff Zatkoff

It was Conor Sheary’s first game back since March 20, he had missed 8 games prior. Bryan Rust was dropped to the fourth line to make room for Sheary. Pierre Leblond was shuffled out in all of this madness. Adam Payerl was the other healthy scratch along with Steven Shamanski, who took warmups.

First Period: I don’t know if it was the fact that the Penguins were off last night, riding a high that they clinched on Wednesday or what, because they were flattened by the Pirates from the jump. Outshot 15-6, Matt Murray really did a fine job of keeping the Penguins in it. Eric Selleck got a step on Scott Harrington and scored on Murray to make it 1-0 Pirates. It was the first goal scored by the Pirates on the Penguins in the season series. The Penguins shut out the Pirates in the two prior meetings. The assault continued, but Murray was to task with some puck luck also.

Second Period: That third line came alive…

Tom Kuhnhackl…

Then Carter Rowney…

First goal was a Rowney shot that went wide that Leggio didn’t corral and Kuhnhackl corralled in. The second goal Rowney tip of a Kuhnhackl blast.

Third Period: The Penguins scored three goals on just six shots in this period. Bobby Farnham got the party started with this nice goal off a Conor Sheary setup:

Alex Bolduc scored to make it 3-2. Murray was screened by a defenseman.

But again, Matt Murray came up huge, stopping 15 of 16 shots this period, and the Penguins pulled away.

Jayson Megna on a rebound of a Nick D’Agostino shot from the blue line…

Then Dominik Uher finished off this pass from Matia Marcantuoni to make it 5-2…

Time would run out for the Pirates and the Penguins would take it.

Three Stars: 3) Carter Rowney (goal, assist, +1) 2) Tom Kuhnhackl (goal, assist, +1) and 1) Matt Murray (40 saves on 42 shots)

Around the Division: As mentioned earlier, Hershey gets smoked by St. John’s 5-1…. Norfolk beats Lehigh Valley 3-2 and Binghamton beats Utica 3-2.

Standings: Hershey 96 — Penguins 91 — Lehigh Valley 72 — Binghamton 72 — Norfolk 62

Here is where it is getting weird. I conceded, weeks ago, the division to the Hershey Bears. Every time I do this, Wilkes-Barre inches closer to hope. Every time that happens, it slips. Anyway, if the Penguins win tomorrow, it’s a three point deficit with both teams having three games to play. Bears have two with Lehigh Valley and one with Binghamton left. After tomorrow, assuming the Penguins win Sunday, it’s Albany, Noroflk and Lehigh Valley. Anything can happen. Bears magic number for the Division is 4.

Conference: 1) MCH (103) 2) HER (96) 3) SYR (91) 4) WBS (91) 5) PRO (89) 6) HFD (89) 7) WOR (86) 8) POR (83)

Manchester sewed up the top spot in the East. Best that the Bears (or Penguins, with tons of help) can finish is the second seed. That means, you’ll want to avoid being seven eight. Syracuse is LOL right now and may not even win the division, but I’d favor who ever finishes sixth over Syracuse at three if it shakes out that way regardless.

Wheeling Update: Good on the Wheeling Nailers, decimated almost day by day by call-up from two affiliates, for punching their ticket to the Kelly Cup Playoffs with a 5-3 win in Elmira. Five different Nailers scored.

SendtoNews Highlights: Aren’t up yet and I don’t know if Portland puts them up quite frankly so my amateurish videos will need to do.

Rematch tomorrow at 3 vs. these same Pirates. Gameday for this will be up on the blog at 11.

Let’s Go Pens!!!


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