Chirps from Center Ice

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

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.

GAMEDAY: @ Lehigh Valley 3/22

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Away Game: 32

AHL Game: 961

Who: Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Where: PPL Center

When: 5:05 p.m.

Media Kit

Lats Game: Last night at home vs. Binghamton, the Pens lost 4-3. Taylor Chorney had three assists, a career high for the Penguins defenseman. For Lehigh Valley, they were in Worcester last night and lost 6-1. Brandon Manning had the only goal for the Phantoms in the loss.

Last Meeting: February 14 in Wilkes-Barre, the Penguins lost 5-4 in a shootout. Brian Dumoulin had two assists and was named second star of the game.

Record: For WBS: 36-21-3-4 (79 pts., 2nd place East Division) — For LV: 29-26-6-1 (65 pts., 3rd place East Division)

Why you should care: Penguins are cold right now. They look to get hot again against a struggling Phantoms team that matches up really well against them. Wilkes-Barre almost needs to win this game in hand that they have on the Bears if they have any hopes of catching the Bears for the division lead.

Referee(s): Trevor Hanson

Linesmen: Ryan Knapp / Scott Pomento

Twitter: @WBSPenguins and @WBSGameDay / @LVPhantoms

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins / /LehighValleyPhantoms

Instagram: wbspenguins / lehighvalleyphantoms

Beat Writers: @CVBombulie and @TLTomVenesky / @gblockus

Broadcasters: WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS / For Lehigh Valley: Bob Rotruck @BobRotruck

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep

Radio: For WBS: WILK Newsradio / For Lehigh Valley: Fox 1470

Television: AHL Live

Other Game to Watch: I like Hartford at Albany. The Wolf Pack are a playoff team looking to make a run while the Devils are on the outside looking in.

Next Five Games: @ BNG 3/27, @ LV 3/28, HFD 4/1, WOR 4/3, LV 4/4

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!!

RAPID RECAP – Pens LOSE 4-3

Another quick rapid recap for you on thisSaturday night. 

A stinker. 4-3 Pens loss. Pens did a lot of things right, out shooting the B-Sens 36-23. What they got wrong, they fished out of their nets. 

Pens had a 3-2 lead going into the third period when Binghamton got two goals off crazy plays. A quick one timer by Max McCormick through a screen and later Shane Prince backhander on a fluttering puck that he fluttered past Zatkoff and in for a 4-3 lead. 

Pens had the majority of the power plays but only scored on one of them and were scored on shorthanded.

Lineup change late saw Conor Sheary a late scratch. Obie speculated as to an injury. Sheary took warmups. Other personnel news saw Barry Goers leave the game with an injury, possibly arm related. 

Full recaps of things to come in a bit. 

GAMEDAY: vs. Binghamton 3/21

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Home Game: 33

AHL Game: 955

Who: Binghamton Senators

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 7:05 p.m.

Media Kit

Last Game: Last night in Syracuse, the Pens lost 2-1 in overtime. Tom Kostopoulos had the only goal for the Penguins in the loss. For Binghamton, the B-Sens hosted Norfolk last night and won 4-3. Shane Prince scored two goals for the home team in the win.

Last Meeting: February 11 in Wilkes-Barre, the Penguins won 4-1. Dominik Uher had a big night, with two goals, an assist and a +3 in the win.

Record: For WBS: 36-20-3-4 (79 pts., 2nd place East Division) — For BNG: 27-28-7-1 (62 pts., 5th place East Division)

Why you should care: Penguins seem like they have some kind of nasty funk around them, having lost two games now to teams in Hartford and Syracuse that they should have won if they put the same effort together against Hershey. Binghamton isn’t going to make playoffs this year and the Penguins are in the thick of it with Hershey for the divisional race, so the B-Sens could be the cure that ail Wilkes-Barre.

Referee(s): Jonathan Alarie / Nic Leduc

Linesmen: Bob Goodman / Jud Ritter

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay / @BSens_Hockey

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /binghamtonsenators

Instagram: wbspenguins / bsens_hockey

Beat Writers: @CVBombulie / @TLTomVenesky // @PSBMatt

Broadcasters: For WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS / For BNG: Grady Whittenburg @BSensRadio

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep

Radio: For WBS: WILK NewsRadio / For Binghamton: Oldies 96.9

Television: AHL Live and MyNetork TV in Wilkes-Barre as well as Pittsburgh.

Promotion(s): Garden Flag

Other Game to Watch: Every team in the AHL hits the ice today. The game that piques my interest is Lehigh Valley in Worcester. Two teams battling for a playoff berth, currently outside looking in. The Penguins battle the Phantoms tomorrow in Allentown.

Next Five Games: @ LV 3/22, @ BNG 3/27, @ LV 3/28, HFD 4/1, WOR 4/3

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!!!

GAMEDAY: @ Syracuse 3/20

Away Game: 31

AHL Game: 938

Who: Syracuse Crunch

Where: Onondaga County War Memorial Arena

When: 7:00 p.m.

Media Kit

Last Game: Sunday at home against Hartford, the Penguins lost 5-2. Josh Archibald and Jayson Megna scored goals in the loss. For Syracuse, the Crunch were in Bridgeport on Sunday and won 2-0. Kristers Gudlevskis had a 29 save shutout.

Last Meeting: January 10 in Syracuse, the Penguins lost 4-3. Jayson Megna had two goals in the losing effort.

Record: For WBS: 36-20-2-4 (78 pts., 2nd place East Division) — For SYR: 36-17-8-0 (80 pts., 1st place Northeast Division)

Why you should care: Important games for both teams tonight. Penguins want to shake off the bad performance Sunday against Hartford. Syracuse wants to stay ahead of the charging Wolf Pack and has its own push for the playoffs as well. Expect an even, competitive matchup.

Referee(s): Cameron Voss / Nic Leduc

Linesmen: Tim Kotyra / Fraser McIntyre

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay / @SyracuseCrunch

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /syracusecrunch

Instagram: wbspenguins / officialsyracusecrunch

Beat Writers: @CVBombulie / @TLTomVenesky // @syrhockey

Broadcasters: For WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS / For SYR: Dan D’Uva @Dan_DUva

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep / @Allovimo

Radio: For WBS: WILK NewsRadio / For Syracuse: ESPN Radio Central New York

Television: AHL Live

Other Game to Watch: The Bears are in Portland for the first of two this weekend. Portland has won seven straight and has points in its last eight games.

Next Five Games: BNG 3/21, @ LV 3/22, @ BNG 3/27, @ LV 3/28, HFD 4/1

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