Chirps from Center Ice

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

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You Get Zepp And Like It — Pens LOSE 4-1

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Earlier in the day today, the Phantoms recalled Jason Akeson (20-23-43) Mark Alt (1-6-7) and Olivier Lauridsen (3-3-6) were recalled by the Philadelphia Flyers for their afternoon game today. The trio of players were returned to the Phantoms in time for the game against the Penguins tonight. Only Akeson played of the three that did.

The Phantoms have lost four straight and are having all of the key elements of their team being taken away from them, were in for a doozy against Matt Murray and the high flying Penguins.

Or at least it seemed that way….

Wilkes-Barre lays an absolute egg tonight and loses 4-1. Despite outshooting the Phantoms 19-1 in the third period, couldn’t mount enough of a comeback and Rob Zepp and the Phantoms shut the door and take away the two points.

The Penguins need to play the same intense way that they play against the Hershey Bears when it comes to a team that they play 12 times a year, just like Hershey.

Matt Murray vs. Rob Zepp

The only lineup change from last night for Wilkes-Barre was Josh Archibald out and Pierre Leblond in. Adam Payerl bumped up to the second line from the fourth and Pierre Leblond took Payerl’s spot on the fourth line.

First Period: The Phantoms jumped the Penguins from the start. After a Dominik Uher and Brett Hextall fight at five seconds in, Lehigh Valley never looked back.

Scott Laughton scored on a power play with enforcer Zack Stortini in front causing a disturbance. 1:15 later, Jesper Pettersson scored from the high slot that made it 2-0.

With the Penguins in deep trouble and getting trucked by the Phantoms, John Hynes called his time out.

Things settled from there, including a Penguins power play that produced a few chances, but Wilkes-Barre would not score at all in this period.

Second Period: Needing a comeback, the Penguins just went through the motions and the Phantoms scored another goal, this time Steve Delisle on a shot that Murray just missed.

It was a while before the Penguins registered their first shot on goal in the period on Zepp. They finally got three on a late power play but were unable to score. Wilkes-Barre was outshot 10-3 in the period.

Third Period: Penguins pour on the pressure, get this goal from Andrew Ebbett….

…but nothing else. They had a power play late, but didn’t score on it and are now just 1 for 19 in their last 20 attempts.

Three Stars: 3) Jesper Pettersson (goal, +1) 2) Rob Zepp (33 saves on 34 shots) and 1) Scott Laughton (two goals, assist, +2)

Miscellaneous: First regulation loss for Matt Murray since a 5-0 loss to these Phantoms on January 31. Murray had been 11-0-1 prior to tonight’s game. And how about this gem from the VP of Communications for the AHL, Jason Chaimovitch…

Around the Division: Bears exact revenge against last nights loss to Manchester with a 6-2 win. Binghamton loses 4-1 at home to Bridgeport and Norfolk loses 3-1 at home to Albany.

Standings: Hershey 89 — Penguins 83 – Lehigh Valley 67 — Binghamton 64 — Norfolk 55

Conference: 1) MCH (92) 2) HER (89) 3) SYR (88) 4) WBS (83) 5) HFD (81) 6) PRO (81) 7) POR (80) 8) WOR (78)

Hartford and Providence both won their games tonight and are just two back of the Penguins for the four seed. All three teams mentioned in that last sentence are off Sunday. The Penguins and Wolf Pack have a game in hand on the Bruins.

Wheeling Update: The Nailers hosted the Reading Royals tonight. Box here.

SendToNews Highlights: Aren’t up yet. Not much to look at that you haven’t already seen in this blog recap.

The Week 25 AHL Power Rankings hit the blog at 4 Monday. Check them out then.

Let’s Go Pens!!!

No Need to Murray — Pens WIN 3-1

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You never buy into the myth that a game is won or lost in the first five minutes of any given game. For the Penguins, it seemed that way. Here is why.

In the first five minutes of tonight’s game, the Binghamton Senators got in behind the Penguins defense and nearly scored. Noted Penguin killer Shane Prince hit the post of the net that Matt Murray was guarding.

The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins settled in, getting two goals in the first period, and Matt Murray made 25 of 26 saves en route to a 3-1 Penguins win tonight. Another solid performance by Murray, who lost his shutout bid in the third period with 4:22 remaining.

Murray is 11-0-1 in his last twelve starts, by the way.

Murray opposed Scott Greenham.

Lines were…

Scott Wilson – Andrew Ebbett – Tom Kostopoulos
Bryan Rust – Jasyon Megna – Josh Archibald
Tom Kuhnhackl – Carter Rowney – Dominik Uher
Bobby Farnham – Matia Marcantuoni – Adam Payerl

Brian Dumoulin – Taylor Chorney
Scott Harrington – Danny Syvret
Nick D’Agostino – Harrison Ruopp

Matt Murray – Jeff Zatkoff

Alex Boak took warmups but was the healthy scratch along with J-S Dea and Pierre Leblond. Bryan Rust was back in the lineup for the first time since February 21.

First Period: If Binghamton scores on those two partial breakaways that I spoke of in the open then it’s a much, much different ballgame. Thankfully they did not and Murray was able to make 11 saves in the period. Meanwhile, Tom Kostopoulos created a turnover, passed to Scott Wilson who put it on net which trickled in past Greenham with Kostopoulos providing interference to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.

Then, with the Penguins about to go on the penalty kill, Andrew Ebbett wins a face-off and finds a streaking Jayson Megna exiting the zone. Megna turns on the jets and powers past the Binghamton defense and backhands one in past Greenham for a 2-0 lead. Only the third shorthanded goal scored by the Penguins this season.

Second Period: Penguins played a boring period. They were not about to let the explosive Binghamton offense start something that resembled a comeback. Matt Murray made some more saves, most memorable of the period a shoulder save that started a fight between Adam Payerl and Max McCormick.

Third Period: More saves by Murray, denying a quick developing two on one for Binghamton. Carter Rowney scores in a pile just as the Penguins power play expired to make it 3-0. At this time, it was all about whether or not Matt Murray would pick up his 11th shutout.

He wouldn’t. Freddy Claesson fired a shot that Max McCormick tipped in to put Binghamton on the board with 4:22 left. The B-Sens made it interesting late and Murray had to make some more key saves, but the home team would get no closer.

I do love this quote from Carter Rowney as told to Tom Venesky after the game…

Shows that while Murray may not pay much attention to shutouts and personal accolades, his teammates do.

Three Stars: 3) Scott Wilson (goal, even) 2) Jayson Megna (goal, +1) and 1) Matt Murray (25 saves on 26 shots)

The Penguins forechecking was ferocious tonight. I don’t know if the B-Sens are just in cruise control or what for the remainder of what is left of their season but the Penguins jumped on the B-Sens from about the face-off dots up to the blue line and caused many turnovers. One led to the first Penguins goal.

Around the Division: This is the last stand for the division. So far, so good. Hershey hosted the AHL leading Manchester Monarchs and were defeated 6-3. The Penguins need the Monarchs to win tomorrow, in regulation, and win in Allentown against the Phantoms which would pull them to within two points of the Bears. Elsewhere, Norfolk lost in overtime 4-3 to Albany and the Phantoms were idle.

Standings: Hershey 87 — Penguins 83 – Lehigh Valley 65 — Binghamton 64 — Norfolk 55

Conference: 1) MCH (92) 2) SYR (88) 3) HER (87) 4) WBS (83) 5) POR (80) 6) HFD (79) 7) PRO (79) 8) WOR (76)

Wheeling Update: The Nailers beat the Fort Wayne Komets by a score of 2-1. Eric Hartzell was in goal and stopped 35 of 36 and also picked up second star honors.

SendToNews Highlights: Are here.

Penguins travel to a rested Lehigh Valley Phantoms team that was idle tonight. Gameday for this will be up on the blog here at 3 p.m.

Let’s Go Pens!

Breaking Records — Pens WIN 3-0

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I had a feeling this morning that Matt Murray was going to start in goal this afternoon in Allentown and would probably, provided that the Penguins do what they need to both offensively and defensively, get another shutout. I had the feeling that he was due again.

Face it, the Phantoms have struggled this season on the ice. They probably aren’t making playoffs this season after this weekend’s performance, getting just one point out of a possible six. But, they give the Penguins fits matchup wise.

But the Penguins haven’t been good since sweeping Hershey last weekend and have only had a point in four games since. We all know that the Penguins are an extremely well coached team and John Hynes won’t sit by idle while his teams falls down the rungs of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

So couple the Phantoms recent struggles and the whip that is Hynes on the horse they call Penguins, and you get a Wilkes-Barre win, this time 3-0.

Matt Murray’s tenth shutout. He is 10-0-1 in his last 11 starts. He breaks another record that existed for a long, long time. This is Gordie Bell’s shutouts in a season for a rookie goaltender, a record that has stood since 1942-43. Just a remarkable display for the Penguins rookie goaltender.

Murray opposed Rob Zepp, who has given the Penguins fits himself.

Lines were…

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

Brian Dumoulin – Taylor Chorney
Derrick Pouliot – Scott Harrington
Danny Syvret – Nick D’Agostino

Matt Murray – Jeff Zatkoff

Conor Sheary and Barry Goers were out, so it was all hands on deck for the Penguins. No healthy scratches.

First Period: Not really much going in the first period. Phantoms had the first nine shots on goal before the Penguins began to store and come to life but there wasn’t any scoring.

Second Period: Penguins had a few power play opportunities, but were getting murdered in the face-off dot. Ever since Andrew Ebbett went up, they have struggled. The Penguins didn’t score on any power plays in the period, but Tom Kostopoulos, at the end of his shift, did this…

1:03 later, Bobby Farnham did this…

Phantoms tried to create chances, but Matt Murray was sharp.

Then, this happened….

Stortini was only given a 2:00 boarding minor. Farnham was fine. Stortini should have been ejected. The Penguins should send tape to the league. If that is any other player on the receiving end of that “hit” by Stortini, they are incapacitated. Stortini should have been ejected.

Matia Marcantuoni’s speed was on full display in this game. He used his speed to generate several chances.

Third Period: Boring period if you are a casual hockey fan that would be happening to watch. Penguins clamped down defensively and all Phantoms chances were one and done. Time dwindled and it became a question whether the Phantoms would squeak one past Murray and start a comeback. It didn’t happen. Murray made a big stop before on a Mark Alt redirect.

With the Phantoms net vacated, Scott Harrington backhanded a shot from his own blue line that went in that sealed the 3-0 win for the Penguins.

Three Stars: 3) Bobby Farnham (goal, +2) 2) Tom Kostopoulos (game winning goal, +2) and 1) Matt Murray (32 save shutout)

Don’t let the 18 shots that the Penguins had in the game concern you. They were looking to preserve the win in the third period and later to preserve the shutout for Murray.

Around the Division: Can’t figure this one out. Binghamton comes to Wilkes-Barre last night and hands the Penguins a 4-3 loss yet goes to Bridgeport, with Peter Mannino in net again, and lose 7-1. Bridgeport is the worst team in the Eastern Conference, by the way. Norfolk and Hershey were off.

Standings: Hershey 87 — Penguins 81 – Lehigh Valley 65 — Binghamton 64 — Norfolk 54

I am not calling the division race over yet. Wilkes-Barre won its game in hand on Hershey today. Had they lost, then I would have conceded to the Bears. Hershey still has to play the East’s best team in Manchester for a pair soon.

Conference: 1) MCH (90) 2) HER (87) 3) SYR (84) 4) WBS (81) 5) PRO (79) 6) HFD (77) 7) POR (76) 8) SPR (75)

Providence was up 2-0 on St. John’s today at home and lost 3-2. Bruins have a game in hand. Just something to watch. Hartford has a game in hand on Providence and two games on Wilkes-Barre, but the Pens and Wolf Pack play each other on April 1.

SendToNews Highlights: Are here.

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off.

The Week 24 AHL Power Rankings go up Monday at 4. Check them out then.

Saturday Night Slugfest — Pens LOSE 4-3

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There were no fights in this game, but this game was a slugfest between two rival teams. The Penguins came out on the short end of the game with a 4-3 loss.

They did a lot of things right in this game. But what they did wrong, cost them, and big.

Jeff Zatkoff vs. Peter Mannino.

Lines were essentially unchanged but for a late Conor Sheary scratch. He took warmups and was skating his usual top line position but was announced as a scratch. Must have been an injury, because he leads the team in points and you aren’t going to scratch a guy that leads in that category. J-S Dea took his spot in the lineup.

First Period: Penguins jump was noticeable, holding the B-Sens to without a shot for the first ten minutes of play. Really great to see.

Then out of no where, Mike Sdao scored through a screen that made it 1-0 Binghamton. Probably the second shot of the game.

Off the face-off, Troy Rutkowski high sticked Tom Kuhnhackl and drew blood. Penguins 4:00 power play. Off that face-off, Buddy Robinson scored to make it 2-0 Binghamton. That was the fourth shot on goal for the B-Sens in the period. Not good at all.

Penguins finally cashed on the power play though with Danny Syvret’s first as a Penguin.

Second Period: Penguins carried momentum into the second period and were rewarded with a goal in the first minute. Taylor Chorney put the puck on the pads of Mannino and Carter Rowney, who has been excellent of late, pushed it past Mannino and in for a tie game.

Game then hit a lull which I said at the time benefitted the B-Sens.

In the final minute though, Scott Wilson cashed on a rebound of a Tom Kostopoulos shot that made it 3-2 Penguins.

Third Period: I don’t know what it was. Whether the Penguins played tentative or what. Binghamton is a team that plays fast and loose and if you are not used top playing that style of hockey, you get burned. It happened to the Penguins. Max McCormick scored on a one timer that came out of nowhere that tied the game at three.

Barry Goers left the ice bloodied and holding his left arm as play was stopped so he could get off. He did not return.

Penguins had a few chances late on the power play to either take the lead or tie the game after a Shane Prince backhander of a fluttering pass to him that made it 4-3.

With Zatkoff pulled with over a minute to play, the Penguins never found the equalizer.

Three Stars: 3) Cole Schneider (assist, even) 2) Taylor Chorney (three assists, a career high, +2) and 1) Shane Prince (game winning goal, +1)

Around the Division: Bears win in overtime up in Portland by a score of 4-3. Hershey has 6 points in their last three games and are getting hot again. Lehigh Valley got thumped by Worcester 6-1 and Norfolk lost 4-3.

Standings: Hershey 87 — Penguins 79 – Lehigh Valley 65 — Binghamton 64 — Norfolk 54

Conference: 1) MCH (88) 2) HER (87) 3) SYR (82) 4) WBS (79) 5) PRO (79) 6) HFD (77) 7) POR (76) 8) SPR (75)

Wheeling Update: Nailers lost 2-1 in Elmira.

SendToNews Highlights: Aren’t up yet. If I remember Sunday morning I will look again.

Pens face-off against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms tomorrow at 5:05. Gameday for this at 1 here on the blog.

Let’s Go Pens!!

Playoff Preview? — Pens LOSE 2-1 (OT)

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Depending on whether or not the Hartford Wolf Pack can catch the Northeast Division leading Crunch, Syracuse is probably going to win that division.

The Crunch have 82 ponts. Really depending on whether Hershey or Wilkes-Barre win the East Division and where they finish, what I am getting at here is that a Wilkes-Barre / Syracuse playoff series would be a fun one.

That was because despite a 2-1 overtime loss to the Crunch, this was a really defensive battle and a fun game to watch in retrospect. Adjust here and alter there and the Penguins can easily go seven games with this Crunch team.

Matt Murray vs. Kristers Gudlevskis.

Lines were…

Conor Sheary – Jayson Megna – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Kuhnhackl – Carter Rowney – Dominik Uher
Scott Wilson – Matia Marcantuoni – Bobby Farnham
Pierre Leblond – Adam Payerl – Josh Archibald

Brian Dumoulin – Taylor Chorney
Scott Harrington – Danny Syvret
Derrick Pouliot – Barry Goers

J-S Dea took warmups but was scratched. Nick D’Agostino was the only other healthy scratch. were the other healthy scratches. Injury wise, Nick Drazenovic, Reid McNeill and Bryan Rust are still, “week to week.”

First Period: Ended with the shots 10-10 and was an even period, but the Crunch opened with a large swath of offensive zone time, then it opened up considerably, then the Penguins took advantage. Seemed to me that the Penguisn were taking too many chances that weren’t paying off, including making too many passes. At one point, it was a 7-2 shot advantage for the Crunch. Wilkes-Barre nearly scored on the power play with a few good chances by Carter Rowney at the end of the period.

Second Period: Game was slowly into a defensive struggle when Syracuse’s Yanni Gourde scored from the slot to make it a 1-0 lead for the Crunch. What scant offense the Penguins did manage to generate, they did so in spurts. Syracuse enjoyed about 75% of the possession and offensive zone time, yet somehow, the shots were an even 17 all at the end of the period.

Third Period: Started really herky-jerky. At one point, the Crunch would win an offensive zone face-off, shoot and Matt Murray would make the save. This continued a couple times in a row. Pens needed something to break up the monotony of the lack of offense.

It came when Leblond went offsides entering the offensive zone but shot the puck anyway at Gudlevskis. Jake Dotchin took offense and started shoving Leblond before the linesmen stepped in. Refs put both Dotchin and Leblond into the penalty boxes which opened up four on four ice for both teams. Derrick Pouliot made a pass to Tom Kostopoulos….

…and the captain scored with three Syracuse players draped on him to tie the game at one a piece.

John Hynes at this point was shuffling up lines and was looking for anything to get a goal. Nothing came of it and it was off to…

Overtime: Penguins dominated the overtime period but it was the Crunch that scored when Jonathan Marchessault made a flip pass to Slater Koekkoek when the Crunch were three on one in three on three and Syracuse would take away the extra point.

Three Stars: 3) Matt Murray (27 saves on 29 shots) 2) Kristers Gudlevskis (27 saves on 28 shots) and 1) Slater Koekkoek (game winning overtime goal, even)

Around the Division: Hershey wins 3-2 in overtime in Portland. Binghamton beat Norfolk 4-3 at home. Lehigh Valley lost in Hartford, 3-2.

Standings: Hershey 85 — Penguins 79 – Lehigh Valley 65 — Binghamton 62 — Norfolk 54

Conference: 1) MCH (86) 2) HER (85) 3) SYR (82) 4) WBS (79) 5) PRO (77) 6) HFD (76) 7) POR (75) 8) SPR (73)

Penguins get help from Providence and Springfield losing in regulation. Magic number for playoffs will be 19. It was 22.

Wheeling Update: The Nailers won 2-1 in a shootout in Elmira.

SendToNews Highlights: Are here.

Penguins are at home tomorrow against the Binghamton Senators. Gameday setup hits the blog at 3 Saturday afternoon.

Let’s Go Pens!!!

Hershey Hangover — Pens LOSE 5-2

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I could pick it up in warmups and it was enough for me to tweet this…

Hartford is in a battle with about five teams, the Penguins included, for a playoff berth. Coming into this weekend, the Wolf Pack were on a six game losing streak. They needed this weekend, a three game road trip, to turn things around and get back into the playoff discussion.

Across the hall, the Penguins are coming into just the second game of the weekend after cooling off their biggest rival in two straight games. The thought may have slipped into the Penguins minds of just go through the motions and things will happen.

Well, it didn’t work. As a matter of fact, it blew up in their faces.

A 5-2 whipping today at the hands of the Hartford Wolf Pack who all of a sudden have won three straight. Not only that, the Penguins were outshot by a total of 40-13. No, that’s not a misprint. Forty to thirteen were the shots on goal including 13-3 at the end of one and 31-10 at the end of two. The Penguins were steamrolled from the drop of the puck today and the Wolf Pack never looked back.

Jeff Zatkoff opposed Jeff Malcolm today. The reason the Penguins lost was not because of the play of their goaltender. It could have easily been 7-2 tonight without the play of Zatkoff.

One line up change for the Penguins, J-S Dea was out for Josh Archibald. Derrick Pouliot did not dress, despite being sent down yesterday in the Andrew Ebbett transaction.

First Period: Penguins weathered the early Hartford storm, got a power play out of it, didn’t score. Hartford got a power play and scored immediately. It was executed perfectly. Faceoff win. Pass to point. Cross ice pass to far dot. Pass in front for a tip in goal. Red lights and fist pounds.

The assault continued. Penguins were being freight trained. Mike Kostka flipped a shot on net that Zatkoff never saw. 2-0.

Second Period: The pushback that the Penguins wanted never came. Reason? Had to kill essentially three straight penalties. First was a Scott Wilson double minor for high sticking that they were successful on. The second was a Josh Archibald slash that Conor Allen scored on from the blue line. 3-0. Shots to this point were 24-4.

Scott Harrington had a terrible game. A turnover behind his own net resulted in a shot and then a rebound to the wrong guy. His name was Chris Bourque. 4-0.

Seventeen seconds later, Josh Archibald scored on a rebound that finally gave the Penguins some life. It was 4-1.

Third Period: Exact copy from the start of the second, but it was Hartford taking penalties. Jayson Megna finally cashed from the slot to make it 4-2 cut the lead in half. After that, there was nothing that even resembled an offensive shift for the Penguins even with the benefits of a few power plays. It seems like, when the Penguins are on the power play, they don’t know how to enter the offensive zone from the blue line. If you were at the game today and saw that late third period power play, you know what I am talking about.

With time dwindling down, Jeff Zatkoff was pulled and who else but ex-Bear Chris Bourque would hit the empty net, therefore sealing the win for his team and indirectly helping his old team an hour south of Wilkes-Barre in the Bears by keeping the three point cushion intact for Hershey.

Three Stars: 3) Jayson Megna (goal, -1) 2) Chris Bourque (two goals, +2) and 1) Conor Allen (goal, assist, even)

Around the Division: Norfolk lost in Providence 4-1. Hershey and Lehigh Valley were idle. Binghamton won a crazy one, 8-7 in overtime in Adirondack.

Standings: Hershey 81 — Penguins 78 – Lehigh Valley 65 — Binghamton 60 — Norfolk 52

Conference: 1) MCH (84) 2) HER (81) 3) SYR (80) 4) WBS (78) 5) PRO (77) 6) POR (74) 7) HFD (74) 8) SPR (73)

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were idle.

SendToNews Highlights: Are here. Nothing much to see.

Week 23 AHL Power Rankings will go live on the blog Monday at 4. Check them out then. Otherwise, the Penguins next game is this Friday up in Syracuse. Hershey plays Wednesday, in Worcester. That will bear watching.

Let’s Go Pens!

Megna The Most of the Opportunity — Pens WIN 3-1

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Andrew Ebbett was recalled to the Pittsburgh Penguins before the start of the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins game and that left Head Coach John Hynes with a decision to make.

Who was he going to insert on the top line with Conor Sheary and Tom Kostopoulos?

The answer was Jayson Megna. It was at the right one.

Fueled by a two point performance by Megna and a 26 save performance by Matt Murray, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins draw to within three points of the rival Hershey Bears with a 3-1 win Saturday night at home. The Penguins burn off their game in hand on the Bears tomorrow afternoon vs. the Hartford Wolf Pack.

Ebbett was recalled because Sidney Crosby got sick before the start of the Pittsburgh game this afternoon and Evgeni Malkin took a bump and left the game due to injury. The lines looked like this…

Conor Sheary – Jayson Megna – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Kuhnhackl – Carter Rowney – Dom Uher
Scott Wilson – J-S Dea – Adam Payerl
Pierre Leblond – Matia Marcantuoni – Bobby Farnham

Brian Dumoulin – Taylor Chorney
Scott Harrington – Barry Goers
Nick D’Agostino – Danny Syvret

Matt Murray – Jeff Zatkoff

First Period: Megna made his presence felt early with a goal at 1:48 to put the Penguins on the board early finishing a nice pass from Tom Kostopoulos on the backhand. Penguins continue with pressure with Carter Rowney nearly scoring off a Bears turnover. Teams would trade power plays. Late, Conor Sheary scored on a shot that beat Bears starting goaltender Philipp Grubauer short side to put the Penguins ahead 2-0.

Second Period: You knew that Hershey was going to make a push, it was just a matter of when. The answer came in the second period. The Bears badly outshot the Penguins and were finally rewarded with a goal from Mike Moore from the high slot that beat a screened Murray and in for a 2-1 Penguin lead. Wilkes-Barre didn’t have to wait long to establish a two goal lead again though. Matt Murray made a big save, then right back down the other end the third line of Tom Kuhnhackl made a pass to Carter Rowney who shot the puck, Grubauer never controlled the rebound and a trailing Dominik Uher deposited the rebound for a 3-1 lead.

Third Period: Grubauer kept his team in it early and often, making a save on a Rowney breakaway, but the Penguins played shutdown defense the whole period and didn’t give the Bears much. What they did get to Murray he stopped. Bears couldn’t get anything past Murray even with Grubauer vacated with about two minutes to play.

Three Stars: 3) Matt Murray (26 saves on 27 shots) 2) Conor Sheary (goal, +1) and 1) Jayson Megna (goal, assist, +1)

Quite the opportunity for Megna and a blessing in disguise for both he and Hynes. That top line of Kostopoulos, Ebbett and Sheary was one of the best but with Megna it looks equal if not better.

Around the Division: Binghamton hosted tomorrow’s competition, Hartford, and lost 4-3. Lehigh Valley was in Connecticut and won 4-2. Norfolk lost 2-0 to Portland up in Maine.

Standings: Hershey 81 — Penguins 78 – Lehigh Valley 65 — Binghamton 58 — Norfolk 52

Conference: 1) MCH (84) 2) HER (81) 3) SYR (78) 4) WBS (78) 5) PRO (75) 6) POR (74) 7) HFD (72) 8) SPR (71)

Wheeling Update: Wheeling lost 4-1 to the Elmira Jackals at home. Eric Hartzell started and took the loss, stopping 32 of 35 shots.

SendToNews HIghlights: Not up yet. I will look again and probably run in the morning edits.

Penguins burn off their game in hand on the Bears tomorrow with a 4:05 start against Hartford. A win would put the Penguins just a point back of the Bears, with the same amount of games to play. Gameday setup hits the blog at high noon Sunday.

Let’s Go Pens!

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