Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Postgamer

Thrown Back on Throw Back Night — Pens LOSE 5-3

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Tonight felt a lot like the early years of the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins existence.

– Home black jerseys in livery not seen in these parts in 15 years.
– Sellout crowd.
– Hated, long time rival in the Philadelphia Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
– Fights and penalties. 60 minutes in total.
– Controversy with the officiating and questionable calls.
– The opponent walking away with the two points.

A 5-3 loss, the Penguins third in a row and six of the last seven for an all of a sudden slumping Penguins team that is without it’s number one goaltender due to injury (Matt Murray) and number one defenseman due to call up (Derrick Pouliot)

The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins once robust lead in the Atlantic Division has been trimmed to mere percentage points now by none other than the other big time rival in this state, the Hershey Bears. The Bears have not lost in regulation in ten games.

Lots of things to get to in this one.

Tristan Jarry opposed Anthony Stolarz

Lines were…

Scott Wilson – Kael Mouillierat – Conor Sheary
Ty Loney – Carter Rowney – J-S Dea
Josh Archibald – Oskar Sundqvist – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Sestito – Matia Marcantuoni – John McCarron

Reid McNeill – Steve Oleksy
Niclas Andersen – Clark Seymour
Tim Erixon – Will O’Neill

Tristan Jarry – Brian Foster

Lineup Notes: John McCarron was in for Dominik Uher who was out with injury. J-S Dea is now the only Penguins player to appear in every game this season. Defenseman Ryan Parent skated the extra man in warmups. Josh Archibald replaced Uher on the third line and McCarron took Archibald’s spot on the fourth.

Before the game John Slaney became the fourth member of the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins Hall of Fame Class. He was inducted into the Class by original members Kevin Blaum and Dennis Bonvie:

First Period: Penguins jump ahead on a Will O’Neill power play goal with Tom Kostopoulos screening in front of Stolarz that made it 1-0 Penguins. Pens think they score again but have the goal taken away by referee Olivier Gouin as he either new the whistle or had the intent to while Kostopoulos was whacking away on Stolarz as the puck squirted through. A back and forth period saw the Pens ahead 1-0 with the shots being 12-11 Phantoms.

Second Period: Phantoms cashed on a carryover power play on fresh ice that tied the game. Taylor Leier got the last deflection on an Andrew MacDonald blast from the point that made it 1-1.

Then, after a Lehigh Valley power play had just expired, Colin McDonald scored to make it 2-1. What happened here was Tristan Jarry made a diving, poking save on an Andrew MacDonald attempt that got him out of position. With McDonald right in front with time and space, Jarry had no chance. It was a goal I’m sure he would want back, but the Penguins needed to dig out of a 2-1 hole.

Things didn’t get any easier as Chris Conner stole a puck at center ice, put a deke on a Penguins defender and scored an NHL caliber roof job on Jarry that made it 3-1.

That was your turning point.

It was your turning point because the Penguins would get on tilt (a poker term for playing on the edge after being dealt a bad hand) and it would see J-S Dea tangled up with a Phantoms player, Dea giving words to the Phantoms bench coming off, slowly, while play was going on in his end. Linesman Bill Lyons sees all of this and correctly whistles the idling Dea for too many men.

Now every whistle and stoppage was escalated. Reid McNeill and Maxim Lamarche engaged in a fight that McNeill easily won via uppercut. Anything to spark an all of a sudden lifeless Penguins team. It worked. Scott Wilson cashed on a big rebound left by Stolarz on the power play and it was a one goal game again.

Then the play and sequence which will get talked about at the water cooler Monday.

Pavel Padakin scores his first goal of the season while Tristan Jarry has a Phantoms player laying on top of him. With Jarry prone on the ice and the puck in the net, there is no way that referee Gouin is going to allow the goal to stand, right?

Wrong.

After brief consultation with Linesman Lyons and Luke Murray, the goal was allowed to stand. Apparently, Gouin ruled that a Tom Sestito pushed Tyrell Goulbourne on top of Jarry, thus not allowing Jarry to play his position but the goal standing anyway because Sestito pushed Goulbourne into Jarry.

I thought the call sucked. If it was reversed, I would openly say that the Penguins got away with one. I think at the very least there needs to be some moderation of the rules that either takes both players off the ice like you see with hooking and diving plays or just a penalty to the player that puts the opposing player on the goaltender thereby not allowing the goaltender to play his position.

I was mad on Twitter about it, but I have seen it happen before where goals like that are allowed to stand. It’s a terrible sequence to be on if you are the team that is getting scored on.

Anyway.

Third Period: Scott Wilson brought the Penguins to within one when he received a pass from Conor Sheary that hit his skate and kicked to his stick and in the net.

With time dwindling, the Penguins never found the equalizer. Josh Archibald had all the time and space in the world but fired wide late. With Tristan Jarry vacated Colin McDonald hit an empty net at center ice that salted the game away.

Three Stars: 3) Chris Conner (goal, assist, +2) 2) Scott Wilson (two goals, -2) 1) Andrew MacDonald (three assists, +2)

Two point nights for Wilson, Sheary (two assists) Kael Mouillierat (two assists) and Will O’Neill (goal, assist)

Around the Division: Bridgeport beats Albany 4-1. The Sound Tigers have now won four in a row…Hartford beats St. John’s 4-1…Hershey beats Syracuse 5-1 and Springfield beats Portland 6-2. Providence was off.

Worth noting that with the win tonight the Lehigh Valley Phantoms have now won five games in a row.

Standings: Penguins (.682 percentage points) — Hershey (.620) — Portland (.616) — Providence (.557) — Bridgeport (.544) — Hartford (.533) — Lehigh Valley (.511) — Springfield (.443)

Wheeling Update: Elmira beats Wheeling in a shootout 4-3. Paul Cianfrini had two goals.

Pens now are at the All-Star break and will report next Thursday for practice before getting on a bus bound for Springfield, Massachusetts for next Friday’s game against the Springfield Falcons.

As for me, the Week 17 AHL Power Rankings will be up here on the blog Sunday at 3 p.m., the big board chart refresh will be up sometime soon and I am heading to Syracuse for AHL All-Stars as a fan. I’ll have a bunch of stuff on the Twitter side and probably the blog so keep it locked here on the blog this weekend.

Let’s Go Pens!

Bardreau You Don’t — Pens LOSE 4-3 (OT)

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I won’t blame you if you put this game in on cruise control heading into the third period of tonight’s game.

The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins were up 2-0 and in complete control of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms heading into the third period at PPL Center, a place where the Penguins have had much success in the past two seasons.

But hold on. You still need to play a full 60 minutes. The Penguins didn’t and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms played their best period of the game, maybe the season against the Penguins and come all the way back and win 4-3 in overtime.

The Phantoms now have won four games in a row.

It was Tristan Jarry vs. Jason LaBarbera

Lines were…

Scott Wilson – Kael Mouillierat – Conor Sheary
Ty Loney – Carter Rowney – J-S Dea
Dominik Uher – Oskar Sundqvist – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Sestito – Matia Marcantuoni – Josh Archibald

Reid McNeill – Steve Oleksy
Will O’Neill – Clark Seymour
Tim Erixon – Niclas Andersen

Tristan Jarry – Brian Foster

Lineup Notes: Brian Foster backed up, John McCarron skated the extra in warmups which meant that neither Sahir Gill nor Dominik Simon took warmups tonight. Harrison Ruopp was sent back to Wheeling. Mike O’Brien on the pre game show offered little that you don’t already know if you read a paper this morning or happened to check out Seth’s blog or mine yesterday. Barry Goers is close to playing again and so too a healthy Ryan Parent. I’d expect that he may see a game this weekend just given the fact that Coal Street shipped Ruopp to Wheeling earlier today.

First Period: The Penguins are just a better team when they have Conor Sheary and Scott Wilson in the lineup. It was their line that generated the most offense early on in the period. Penguins would get carryover power play time late in the period when Tom Kostopoulos cashed to make it 1-0 Penguins….

Feels like a while since the Penguins scored the first goal of the game, doesn’t it?

The period overall was the best that Wilkes-Barre played in twenty minutes then they did all sixty minutes in Wednesday’s game against Hartford.

Second Period: The penalty killing by the Pens would be the story of the period. An early kill, then Tom Sestito hit Josh Archibald with a pass and Archibald doubled the Penguins lead…

They then had to kill a Steve Oleksy delay of game. Then Tristan Jarry made a big save to keep the Phantoms off the board…

Because he is always in position, he downright looks mechanical. Tristan Jarry is flat out fun to watch play goal, folks.

Penguins had to then kill 1:47 of Lehigh Valley 5-on-3 but Lehigh Valley never registered a shot on Jarry and the Penguins and their top rated road penalty killing easily killed it.

Third Period: Pens were rolling coming into the third period until they weren’t. The Phantoms outshot the Penguins 17-9 in the period and started to chip away.

– A Davis Drewiske shot from the blue line snuck through at 5:55 when the Penguins were scrambling in their zone. It was a precursor of things to come.
– Dominik Uher left the game with an apparent upper body injury. Obie said that Uher went in for a hit on Colin McDonald and missed and went straight into the boards and was followed into the Pens locker room by the medical staff holding his left shoulder.
– Cole Bardreau tied the game when he was left unmarked at the top of Jarry’s crease.
– The Penguins top line of Sheary, Mouillierat and Wilson were the only line that generated anything that looked like offense from a Wilkes-Barre perspective.
– You know that you are in trouble and things aren’t going your way in the third period of a tie game when your captain takes a boneheaded penalty like Tom Kostopoulos took at 14:55 of the third (a slash) – Chris Conner re-directs a puck off of the stick of Tristan Jarry and in to make it a 3-2 lead for the Phantoms.

Full on implosion by the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins. But then, :26 later…

Will O’Neill with the shot that Sheary redirects and Mouillierat cleans up and it’s a tie game again. The top line for the Pens comes through.

Nothing was solved in regulation so it was onto…

Overtime: Chances on both ends, but the Penguins give up a puck in their own zone on the three on three, Clark Seymour falls down which leads to a three on two rush by the Phantoms. Nick Cousins takes the shot, Tristan Jarry makes the initial save but the puck pops up on him, he tries to bat the puck clear standing up, misses, and Cole Bardreau puts it by him for the game winner.

As luck would have it, the Pens had the Phantoms hemmed in. Chris Conner was on the ice but playing without a stick as it broke on him. LaBarbera made a few pad saves to keep it tied then the Phantoms took it the other way and won the game.

Three Stars: 3) Kael Mouillierat (goal, assist, even) 2) Chris Conner (goal assist, even) and 1) Cole Bardreau (two goals including the game winner, +3)

Around the Division: Portland beats St. John’s 4-2…Hershey battles back from a 2-0 hole and beats Syracuse 5-3…Providence crushes Springfield 8-1 and Bridgeport ends the Hartford Wolf Packs eight game winning streak beating the Pack in Hartford by a score of 4-1.

Standings: Penguins (.698 percentage points) — Portland (.631) — Hershey (.611) — Providence (.557) — Bridgeport (.534) — Hartford (.523) — Lehigh Valley (.500) — Springfield (.430)

The Penguins once insurmountable lead in the division is paper thin now over the likes of Portland, Hershey and Providence. The P-Bruins are off for the All-Star break. The Pirates travel to last place Springfield and the Bears play host to the Syracuse Crunch Saturday.

Wheeling Update: The Nailers won 4-1 in Elmira tonight and it was Head Coach Dave Gove’s first road win as coach of the Nailers.

Pens will host the Phantoms for the back end of the home and home series tomorrow in front of what is likely to be a sellout crowd. Gameday setup will be at 3 p.m. tomorrow here on the blog.

Let’s Go Pens!

Smacked by the Pack — Pens LOSE 3-1

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Missing their top two scorers tonight, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins dropped this game by a score of 3-1. Here are the quick hits…

– For large parts of this game, the Penguins were the better side. Hartford came in winners of seven straight.

– Matt Murray has lost his third straight game, after winning seven straight.

– Penguins gave up another shorthanded goal tonight.

– The Penguins lost their fourth game in five games.

Matt Murray vs. Magnus Hellberg.

Lines were…

Josh Archibald – Kael Mouillierat – Dominik Simon
Sahir Gill – Carter Rowney – J-S Dea
Dom Uher – Oskar Sundqvist – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Sestito – Matia Marcantuoni – John McCarron

Reid McNeill – Steve Oleksy
Will O’Neill – Clark Seymour
Tim Erixon – Niclas Andersen

Matt Murray – Tristan Jarry

Lineup Notes: John McCarron, recalled from Wheeling Wednesday morning, was in for Ty Loney. Tim Erixon returned from injury, replacing Harrison Ruopp. Erixon last played January 8. The top two scorers I mentioned earlier, Scott Wilson and Conor Sheary, were sent down from Pittsburgh earlier in the day but were not in the lineup.

First Period: Snoozy start for both teams. Hartford carried the edge in play. Neither team scored on their only power play of the period but it was Hartford striking shorthanded when ex-Penguin Jayson Megna capitalized on a Penguin turnover by the bench. He skated in unabated and roofed a backhander over a sprawling Murray. It was the seventh time this season that he Penguins allowed a shorthanded goal this season.

Second Period: Penguins were a much improved side to start and were able to clamp down on the Wolf Pack and got a goal from Niclas Andersen to tie the game at one. He hopped on a loose puck in the slot and wristed it top corner to bring it level once again.

The Penguins came in waves and had a pair of chances to jump ahead. Kael Mouillierat with a Grade A chance in the slot then Sahir Gill broke in but Hellberg was able to make the save.

Third Period: Adam Tambellini jumped on a puck that the Penguins couldn’t clear and wired a shot past Murray to put the Wolf Pack ahead 2-1. Hartford was starting to make a bit of a push in the period for more goals but Murray and the Penguins defense kept it just a one goal lead.

Then the Penguins came alive and started getting some chances. Big pressure by the Penguins but Hellberg was on point and maintained the lead for his side.

With Murray pulled in the final minute and a half, the Penguins were unable to find the equalizer and Hartford tacked on an empty netter.

Three Stars: 3) Niclss Andersen (goal, +1) 2) Magnus Hellberg (27 saves on 28 shots) and 1) Adam Tambellini (game winning goal, +1)

Mike O’Brien said on postgame that Dominik Simon was not seen on the ice after the Tambellini goal. He wasn’t on the bench, so it’s something to watch, especially with Simon going to All-Stars this weekend.

Around the Division: Portland wins 4-1 at home against St. John’s…Hershey loses up in Albany 3-2 in overtime…Bridgeport beats Springfield 1-0 and Lehigh Valley beats Binghamton 6-3.

Standings: Penguins (.702 percentage points) — Portland (.622) — Hershey (.602) — Providence (.547) — Hartford (.535) — Bridgeport (.523) — Lehigh Valley (.489) — Springfield (.440)

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off today.

Here’s the Coal Street infographic….

Pens travel to Allentown Friday for the start of a home and home against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms before breaking for All-Stars this weekend. But for big time news, look for the next blog post to come Friday at 3 for the Gameday setup against the Phantoms.

Let’s Go Pens!

Road Woes — Pens LOSE 5-2

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The Penguins will probably be thankful that they will be able to get in their own beds and stay there for a while. A six game road trip ends in a loss to the Providence Bruins Sunday afternoon by a score of 5-2.

I can’t put my finger on this one other than the fact that the Pens were gassed at the tail end of a three in three having to drive into the remnants of a blizzard after last night’s 5-0 whitewash of Portland. The Pirates are a better team than the Providence Bruins when you look at the standings, but both teams are really good. The Penguins rarely get blown out of games, so to say that it was just being gassed from a ton of bus time these past two weeks is a probable result.

The Bruins, no slouches, were 6-0-3 in their last nine games coming into today’s matchup against the Penguins.

Matt Murray vs. Malcolm Subban.

Lines were…

Josh Archibald – Kael Mouillierat – Dominik Simon
Sahir Gill – Carter Rowney – J-S Dea
Dominik Uher – Oskar Sundqvist – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Sestito – Matia Marcantuoni – Ty Loney

Reid McNeill – Steve Oleksy
Will O’Neill – Clark Seymour
Niclas Andersen – Harrison Ruopp

Matt Murray – Tristan Jarry

Lineup Notes: Obie was up front and said that the reason Scott Wilson was held out of the game today was to protect him from injury against the need for his services in Pittsburgh. Wilson has not been officially recalled and Pittsburgh does not play until Tuesday against New Jersey.

First Period: The Providence Bruins came into the game today with the AHL’s top ranked power play, so giving them two chances at the man advantage early on was probably not in Clark Donatelli’s game plan. The Penguins, however, were able to kill the penalties by the P-Bruins.

Matt Murray had a big save on Noel Acciari during the period…

Apologies for the blur.

Penguins started to come alive with chances at and in front of Subban but then Reid McNeill tried to chip a puck out of his zone which was read perfectly by Frank Vatrano who wasted no time in going short side on Murray to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.

Second Period: Weird period. Back and forth she went with goals then a stoppage due to glass breakage.

J-S Dea quickly tied the game at 1:30 of the period on this nice shot…

:50 later, Harrison Ruopp and Nic Andersen got crossed up and Colby Cave broke in and Colton Hargrove broke the tie and scored on the rebound.

1:31 after that, Josh Archibald floated in and picked a corner and the Penguins were even again…

Later, Matia Marcantuoni blew a tire in his own end which led to an odd man rush the other way which saw Andrew Cherniwchan make it 3-2 Bruins. It was the first time in seven games that Matt Murray allowed a goal beyond the first period.

The period ended prematurely when Shair Gill broke a pane of glass.

The teams headed to the locker room and added the remaining 5:43 on the clock to the…

Third Period: Technically still in the second period, the Bruins tacked on two quick goals. Anton Blidh led a rush up the ice and Colby Cave put the rebound in for a 4-2 lead.

Then the Bruins added a backbreaker when they scored shorthanded. Brandon DeFazio led a two on one with Austin Czarnik and Czarnik cashed to seemingly put the game out of reach for the Penguins as it was 5-2.

The Penguins had been outshot 14-3 since the score was 2-2.

The Penguins were unable to get anything going on the tail end of a three in three and the last of a six game road trip and Providence shut things down after that.

Three Stars: 3) Tommy Cross (+4) 2) Andrew Cherniwchan (goal, +1) 1) Colby Cave (goal, assist, +2)

Tom Sestito was a -4 today. Eech.

Around the Division: The only game in the division was Hartford, extending their winning streak to seven in a row with a 4-1 win at home against Portland.

Standings: Penguins (.720 percentage points) — Portland (.613) — Hershey (.607) — Providence (.547) — Hartford (.524) — Bridgeport (.512) — Lehigh Valley (.464) — Springfield (.439)

Wheeling Update: The Nailers game against Brampton was postponed due to snow.

Pens will bus home and we will await word on the status of Scott Wilson. My charts will update sometime later tonight and then the Week 16 AHL Power Rankings will hit the blog at their usual 4 p.m. slot Monday.

Let’s Go Pens!

Streak Stoppers — Pens WIN 5-0

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Here’s the deal tonight, a 5-0 Wilkes-Barre win that ended a bunch of streaks for the Portland Pirates.

– The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins ended the Portland Pirates six game win streak.
– Mike McKenna’s thirteen game win streak is over.
– The Penguins struck three times on the power play.
– Tristan Jarry picked up his third shutout of the season for his 11th win of the season.

Last night, the Penguins power play could not come alive for them in a tight game and it cost them. Tonight? The Penguins power play struck twice, back to back in the first period and this spring boarded the Penguins to the win tonight.

Tristan Jarry opposed Mike McKenna.

Lines were…

Scott Wilson – Kael Mouillierat – Dominik Simon
Sahir Gill – Carter Rowney – J-S Dea
Dominik Uher – Oskar Sundqvist – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Sestito -Matia Marcantuoni – Josh Archibald

Reid McNeill – Steve Oleksy
Will O’Neill – Clark Seymour
Niclas Andersen – Harrison Ruopp

Tristan Jarry – Matt Murray

Lineup Notes: Matia Marcantuoni was in for Ty Loney…top line was unchanged…Sahir Gill replaced Josh Archibald on the second line, Archibald was dropped down to the fourth line.

First Period: The open of the game felt like a chess match. Then the Pirates went on the power play and nearly scored. The best sequence the Pirates had was Rocco Grimaldi blasting out of his own zone down the far wall, passing to Shane Harper for a shot but Jarry was there to make the save. Then the Penguins went on the power play and scored when Kael Mouillierat, with the patience of a saint, stickhandled around McKenna’s net and found Scott Wilson in the high slot for a shot and a goal that put the Penguins up 1-0.

Two milestones with this goal. First, Scott Wilson was the first AHL player to 20 goals on the season and with an assist on the Wilson Goal, Will O’Neill collected his 100th AHL point.

John McFarland put an elbow into Steve Oleksy and the Penguin went straight back to the power play. This week in practice, Clark Donatelli had Tom Sestito out on the power play unit this week to put the big bodied Sestito out in front of the net. The plan worked. Clark Seymour wound up and took a shot, Tom Sestito had a tip-in goal that put the Pens up 2-0.

Penguins nearly cashed a third time as they had :44 of five-on-three time, but the Pirates third ranked penalty kill was able to not allow the Penguins to triple or quadruple the lead.

Second Period: Pens had to kill 1:01 of a five on three of their own and did so. Then Tom Sestito found Josh Archibald for this long breakaway and the puck slid across the line and in which made it 3-0 Penguins.

First two point game for Tom Sestito since January 14, 2012.

J-S Dea was snakebit by McKenna twice in the period with a big glove save on one high slot on one sequence then again on a one timer from Carter Rowney left all alone in front.

Tristan Jarry was great again in the period, making this memorable stop on Portalnd bearing down trying to muscle one past him.

The Penguins scored three or more power play goals in a game for the third time this season.

Third Period: What Dea wasn’t able to get in goals he was able to create in turnovers. He stripped Brett Regner trying to exit and Carter Rowney pounced on it and dished to Sahir Gill who scored to make it 4-0…

The Penguins made it 3-for-6 on the power play when Will O’Neill took the shot and Tom Kostopoulos tipped it in for a 5-0 Penguin lead.

It was the tenth time that the Penguins have scored five goals or more this season.

Jarry stopped all 10 Portland shots sent his way in the period picked up his 11th win of the season.

Three Stars: 3) Will O’Neill (two assists, +1) 2) Tom Sestito (goal, assist, +1) 1) Tristan Jarry (34 save shutout)

Around the Division: Hershey, Lehigh Valley, Hartford and Bridgeport were all snowed out tonight. Springfield beat Providence in overtime 5-4.

Standings: Penguins (.738 percentage points) — Portland (.628) — Hershey (.607) — Providence (.536) — Hartford (.512) — Bridgeport (.512) — Lehigh Valley (.464) — Springfield (.439)

Wheeling Update: Nailers lose 4-1 to Kalamazoo. Sunday’s game with the Brampton Beast was postponed due to snow and was rescheduled to March 8.

Pens bus to Providence tonight for a 3 p.m. start against the Bruins Sunday. Gameday for that will hit the blog Sunday at 11.

Let’s Go Pens!

McKenna-o More Than One — Pens LOSE 2-1

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You probably don’t hear as much about the Portland Pirates as much as you do about the Lehigh Valley Phantoms or the Hershey Bears.

But this team is a divisional rival and the last opponent the Penguins have yet to play this season on the matrix. They are a damn good team as noted in my blog post from early Friday.

The Pirates beat the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins by a score of 2-1 tonight, and could not score more than one goal against veteran Mike McKenna who is playing probably the best hockey of his career. McKenna won his thirteenth straight game and had not allowed more than one goal in now five straight starts.

So the first place Penguins run into a hot team in second place and an even hotter goaltender. Looking at the stats in the newspapers tomorrow, the Penguins went 0-for-3 on the power play and you could say that this cost them the game, but they were a better team at even strength and couldn’t beat McKenna more than once, firing 39 shots at the Portland netminder.

Matt Murray vs. Mike McKenna.

Lines were…

Scott Wilson – Kael Mouillierat – Dominik Simon
Josh Archibald – Carter Rowney – J-S Dea
Dominik Uher – Oskar Sundqvist – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Sestito – Sahir Gill – Ty Loney

Reid McNeill – Steve Oleksy
Will O’Neill – Clark Seymour
Niclas Andersen – Harrison Ruopp

Matt Murray – Tristan Jarry

Lineup Notes: Sundqvist was back in the lineup from illness for the first time since January 8 … Matia Marcantuoni, Brian Foster and Ryan Parent were the healthy scratches while Tim Erixon, Tyler Biggs and Barry Goers were the injury scratches.

First Period: Brett Regner won a board battle with Josh Archibald, floated to the high slot and backhanded a shot at Murray that Brett Olson tipped in for a 1-0 Pirates lead at just 1:57 into the period. The Penguins tried the same thing with Tom Kostopoulos the other way, but McKenna held the Penguins at bay. McKenna looked shaky to start, but settled in for the period.

Wade Megan scored on a seemingly harmless, low angle shot that he fired through a tight window that doubled the Pirates lead. The Penguins seemed to carry the play, but you would never get anyone to buy that statement from you looking at the scoreboard.

Second Period: Clark Seymour made it a one goal game with a blast from the point…

Assists to Will O’Neill and Dominik Uher, who drew the delayed penalty that Seymour scored on. That was Clark’s third goal in nine games with the Penguins and extended Uher’s little point streak to 4-2-6 in his last seven games.

Pens had two consecutive power plays but could not score on either. They continued to roll with chance after chance at McKenna but were unable to solve the Pirates goaltender, who had only allowed just one goal in his last four starts.

Third Period: Wilkes-Barre started the period on a power play but were unable to cash in on the man advantage and were 0-for-3 on the night. Pens then needed to kill a Scott Wilson high sticking penalty and did. Portland nearly made it 3-1 but Murray made this weird save off of a carom of the wall…

Seth mined a gem during the game which was that Murray hasn’t allowed a second or third period goal in his last six, now seven, games.

Pens did all they could, outshooting Portland 12-7 and 39-29 overall, but were not able to solve McKenna at all after nearly getting to him in the first period and finally getting to him in the second.

Three Stars: 3) Matt Murray (27 saves on 29 shots) 2) Wade Megan (goal, +1) and 1) Mike McKenna (38 saves on 39 shots)

Ice Chips: Just the second time all season that Matt Murray lost two games in a row. Also, the first time that the Pirates beat the Penguins in three years. The Pirates power play goal streak was snapped, Portland had scored at least one goal on the man advantage in five straight games coming into tonight but were 0-for-2 Friday.

Around the Division: Well, the Bears got four players back from injury and recall and pounded Binghamton tonight 4-0. They are off now as their game with Lehigh Valley Saturday was postponed to Monday….Providence beats Springfield 4-1, Frank Vatrano had two goals to continue his torrent pace here at the AHL level after his reassignment from Boston…Lehigh Valley, Hartford and Bridgeport were off.

Standings: Penguins (.731 percentage points) — Portland (.645) — Hershey (.607) — Providence (.537) — Hartford (.512) — Bridgeport (.512) — Lehigh Valley (.464) — Springfield (.425)

Wheeling Update: Nailers win in overtime 2-1 over the Kalamazoo Wings, Andrew Cerretani scored the game winner. Casey DeSmith picked up the win.

Pens are back at it again in Portland at the same time, 7 pm, up in Maine. Gameday will hit the blog Saturday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

Crunched, Again — Pens LOSE 4-2

SYR          @          NOR

2                                              4

The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins had won seven straight games coming into Saturday night in Syracuse and were the toast of the Atlantic Division and held the current longest winning streak in the American Hockey League.

No one in a Syracuse Crunch jersey was impressed or cared enough to notice.

Playing from behind didn’t seem to matter midweek in St. John’s but it finally caught up to the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins on Saturday as they lose 4-2 in Syracuse against the Crunch. The last team to beat the Penguins before the streak beat them again. Thankfully for the Penguins, this is the last regular season meeting between the two teams.

Matt Murray vs. Adam Wilcox

Lines were…

Scott Wilson – Kael Mouillierat – Dominik Simon
Josh Archibald – Carter Rowney – J-S Dea
Dominik Uher – Sahir Gill – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Sestito – Matia Marcantuoni – Ty Loney

Derrick Pouliot – Steve Oleksy
Reid McNeill – Niclas Andersen
Will O’Neill – Harrison Ruopp

Matt Murray – Tristan Jarry

Lineup Notes: Conor Sheary was recalled to Pittsburgh Friday in the wake of the Nick Bonino injury….Dominik Simon jumped up to the top line wing spot in place of Sheary….Dea took Simon’s spot on the second line wing….Matia Marcantuoni centered Loney and Sestito on the fourth line. On defense, Ruopp was in for Clark Seymour. No Oskar Sundqvist again who was with the team but technically a healthy scratch.

First Period: Physical period. Nearly every stoppage led to pushing and shoving. The Penguins found themselves on a double minor penalty kill when Derrick Pouliot was called for hooking, didn’t like the call from referee Keith Kaval, and was assessed an unsportsmanlike penalty for disputing the call. The Crunch scored twice on both ends of the power play and were up 2-0. Adam Erne scored his third goal of the season against the Penguins with a tip-in then Tye McGinn then stuffed the second Crunch goal past the pad of Murray that doubled the Crunch lead.

Here are the goals, that occurred :49 apart…

Penguins got one back when Steve Oleksy lowered the boom on Philippe Paradis with a big hit. Dominik Simon picked up the puck, dished to Josh Archibald who zipped the puck past Wilcox and in which brought the Penguins to within one…

Then in the final minute, Kael Mouillierat tried to force a pass deep into the Penguins offensive zone which caught the Penguins defensive corps deep and the Crunch capitalized.

Matt Peca set up Mike Blunden on the two on one and the Crunch were able to bring a two goal lead into the…

Second Period: Wilkes-Barre took three penalties in the period and trailing by two goals is never a recipe to mount a comeback. However, the Penguins were able to generate a lot of shorthanded chances and actually outshot the Crunch 10-6 in the period despite being on the penalty kill three separate times in the period. No scoring in the period, but the trailing Penguins started to pick the pace up on the Crunch heading into the…

Third Period: J-S Dea cashed on a Carter Rowney shot and a rebound that brought the Penguins within one on the power play…

The Penguins were on the come seemingly all period, but Wilcox was more than up to the challenge, in this instance stoning Sahir Gill in close then later robbing Kael Mouillierat on a Penguin power play. But the penalties and undisciplined play by the Penguins handcuffed them, as they kept taking penalties.

With Murray off, Wilcox continued to make big stops on Penguins furious rushes and chances. Wilkes-Barre weren’t able to find the equalizer and Tanner Richard hit an empty net to seal it.

Three Stars: 3) Mike Blunden (goal, assist, +2) 2) Matthew Peca (assist, +1) and 1) Adam Wilcox (25 saves on 27 shots)

Around the Division: Hershey beats Springfield in a shootout 4-3….Portland continues their tear and sweep Bridgeport at home 3-1 tonight and Hartford beat Lehigh Valley 2-1. Providence was off.

Standings: Penguins (.750 percentage points) — Portland (.625) — Hershey (.600) — Providence (.526) — Bridgeport (.526) — Hartford (.487) — Lehigh Valley (.451) — Springfield (.421)

Wheeling Update: Nailers fall 4-3 to the Toledo Walleye in Ohio tonight. Anton Zlobin had a goal and an assist and was a +1 and extended his point streak to 7 games.

Pens now have a week to regroup and prepare themselves for what is brewing as a big, big test in Portland against the second place Pirates next Friday and Saturday.

I’ll have my big board chart refresh on the blog sometime Sunday afternoon and the Week 15 AHL Power Rankings on a special time on Martin Luther King Day, at noon Monday. Check them out then.

Let’s Go Pens!

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