Chirps from Center Ice

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

Bird Flu – Pens LOSE 4-2


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Didn’t realize that this was it this season with the Springfield Thunderbirds schedule wise this season. They only play four times this season and this was game number four.

Good thing, too. Because Springfield is on a heater, winning their seventh straight with a 4-2 Friday night win over the visiting Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins, who are heading in the opposite direction.

The Penguins didn’t play poorly, per se, getting goals from Colin Swoyer and All-Star Alex Nylander. They just made mistakes against a team you can’t make mistakes against right now and that’s Springfield. It’s a perfect storm team because in games there are going to be power play opportunities and Springfield just goes to work and cashes on them.

Wilkes-Barre is in a funk, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before and something they will eventually work their way out of.

Here’s how they lined up…

Lineup Notes: Ty Smith is hurt, seemingly after getting rocked Wednesday and Filip Hållander is ill. Colin Swoyer and Lukas Svejkovsky, returning from injury, drew in.

First Period: Will Bitten laid a hit on Chris Ortiz that separated the Penguins defender from the puck and in the odd man rush dropped to Keenan Washkurak who scored to put the Thunderbirds on the board just four minutes in.

With :03 on a later Springfield power play, Matthew Highmore scores a between the legs goal to make it 2-0 Springfield.

But the Penguins respond right before the end of the period when Colin Swoyer nabs his first AHL goal.

I don’t know how you get ‘Sauce’ out fo Swoyer…

Second Period: Penguins first shot of the period doesn’t come until 11:08 was played in the period. Then Martin Frk shot a puck so hard (he is known to do this) that I didn’t see it go in nor thought it went in but it did and it was 3-1 Springfield on yet another power play goal.

Nothing went for either team late navigating through more power play troubles.

Third Period: Alex Nylander scored off the hop and you thought they had the jump they needed to get going again.

But the Thunderbirds held the Penguins at bay, and the time started to run out and with that the desperation grew. With Taylor Gauthier pulled for the extra attacker and the scheme drawn up after a Penguins time out, Wilkes-Barre never found the equalizer they were looking for and Springfield found another one with an empty net tally via Matthew Peca.

Three Stars: 3) Brady Lyle (two assists) 2) Martin Frk (goal) 1) Matthew Peca (goal, two assists)

The Good: Not much. They struggle on the penalty kill as others have mentioned to me and tonight it cost them.

The Bad: Giving up an eight point swing to a team they will be battling for a playoff spot isn’t a prime position to be in quite frankly.

Turning Point: The Martin Frk power play goal came so fast that the Penguins didn’t know what hit them. Apropos for the evening.

Around the Division: Hershey beats Bridgeport 4-1 to snap their mini skid….Hartford beats Utica 4-3….Charlotte slips past Syracuse 5-4 in overtime….Providence cools off a surging Lehigh Valley team 4-2 to stay in step with Hershey in pursuit of the division lead.

Standings: Hershey 63 – Providence 61 – Charlotte 52 – Springfield 49 – Lehigh Valley 47 – Bridgeport, the Penguins and Wolf Park 45.

Wheeling Update: Nailers bested at home by the Iowa Heartlanders 2-1.

Video Highlights: May be a morning edit depending on if I want to walk in the morning.

Meetup with Hartford before the All-Star break Saturday night. More then.

Let’s Go Pens!

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile — Pens LOSE 3-2


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Brady Lyle’s two goals propels the Springfield Thunderbirds Wednesday night but it was Matthew Peca’s power play goal late that get the visiting Springfield Thunderbirds a 3-2 win over the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins Wednesday night.

It’s a rough loss because of how tight things are in the division with a lump of teams and this is the first of nine straight against division foes. But, there’s plenty of time (for now) to make up ground.

Here’s how they lined up. 

Lineup Notes: As the tweet indicates, Filip Hållander, Jonathan Gruden and Dustin Tokarski were all back from either injury (Hållander) or reassignment (Tokarski, Gruden)

First Period: Didn’t take long, Penguins got on the board first courtesy of a Mitch Reinke shot that Corey Andonovski deflected in for a goal just 2:18 into the game. 

Penguins clamped down on Springfield and it was working, the Thunderbirds had just two shots through the first ten or so minutes but worked their way out of it and managed to get closer and more opportunities. 

Second Period: Penguins had the games first two power plays then started giving away power plays to the visitors. On their third such offering, Brady Lyle fired a dart through a screen for a goal. 

Such foreshadowing. 

Penguins couldn’t get a power play to go their way, so at least referees Rob Hennessey and Matt Menniti were calling it down the middle. 

Third Period: Matt Kessel was given a 5:00 major and a game misconduct for a violent cross check on Ty Smith, who left the game briefly but later returned. During the major, Brady Lyle scored at four on four for his second of the game but a minute later or so Alex Nylander, named as a replacement for Xavier Ouellet in Laval at All Stars this weekend, scored to give what seemed like a feckless Penguins attack the kick in the pants it needed to tie the game at two. This came during the 5:00 major. 

The last thing you wanted to see was a silly Penguins penalty. 

:54 later and Matthew Peca roofs one in while in a scrum for his first of the season at a big time and the Thunderbirds lead 3-2. 

But with Tokarski pulled for the extra attacker, the Penguins wouldn’t find the equalizer. 

Three Stars: 3) Alex Nylander 2) Matthew Peca 1) Brady Lyle

The Good: It’s been a hell of a couple days and it’s good to break away and head to a hockey game for the needed distractions of the everyday regardless of the result. I’ll get back to the Weekend Previews hopefully next week. 

The Bad: Too many penalties and too much carelessness. You’re out of a playoff spot. You can’t take silly penalties and be silly with the puck. 

Turning Point: The Peca goal was the dagger in a razor thin contest. 

Around the Division: Providence beats Hartford 4-2 to make up ground on Hershey who lost to Lehigh Valley 5-2.

Standings: Hershey 61 – Providence 59 – Charlotte 50 – Lehigh Valley and Springfield 47 – Bridgeport and the Penguins 45 – Hartford 43

Wheeling Update: Nailers were off. 

Video Highlights: AHL VideoCenter will probably have ‘em. I have a nephew to beat in a video game. 

Let’s go Pens!

Two U’s, Two Points — Pens WIN 3-1


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This one felt like a playoff game.

A pair of goal from Valtteri Puustinen boost the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins to a 3-1 win over the Bridgeport Islanders on Saturday night.

It did feel like a playoff game and at some point, if they flirt at or near the cut line, all of them will be. Good to get a solid win in front of a packed house on a Saturday as we head into February. Let’s roll.

Here’s how they lined up:

Lineup Notes: One of these days I will tell you about this week I just had. Today ain’t one of those days.

First Period: Puustinen fires a near dot one timer past Jakub Skarek to put the Penguins on the board at 8:54 via a power play.

Special teams was dog 🤬 last night so it was good to see them going on the first one of the night.

Bridgeport didn’t score on their power play in the period.

Second Period: Cole Bardreau ties the game on a boffo goal and misplay by Taylor Gauthier puts the Islanders on the board at 4:32.

Why bite on something like that and put yourself out of position like that?

Ty Glover responds with his best shift in a while, keeping a puck in and then picking off an Islander and then ripping a shot for an unassisted goal to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead.

Good to see that fourth line produce for a goal.

Third Period: Penguins kept it simple, took just one penalty they navigated through fine and time starting melting away on the Islanders, who pulled Skarek and later the Penguins found Puustinen who scored his second on the empty net.

Three Stars: 3) Valtteri Puustinen (two goals) 2) Ty Glover (goal) 1) Taylor Gauthier (28 saves)

The Good: Total team effort. They got good goaltending, depth scoring and one of their better players got himself a pair.

The Bad: Boy, say what you want, goaltending is a big question mark right now. Some of what you saw tonight was insulated, big time.

Turning Point: Glover’s goal was huge.

Around the Division: Charlotte beats Rochester 5-3…Syracuse throttles Hartford 7-3…Providence subjugates Utica 5-1…Hershey stomps Lehigh Valley 7-3…Springfield beats Belleville 6-1.

Standings: Hershey 61 – Providence 57 – Charlotte 50 – Lehigh Valley 45 – Penguins 45 – Springfield 45 – Bridgeport and Hartford 43

Wheeling Update: Nailers beat Kansas City 6-2. Adam Smith, fresh from his AHL duties with the Penguins, with a goal and two assists.

Video Highlights: 

Back at it Wednesday against Springfield. Likely that I get a Weekend Preview out at you cats before then.

Let’s Go Pens!

Danger Zone? — Pens LOSE 4-2


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They are in a slump.

Other teams in the division, specifically the ones close to the Pens, aren’t.

Apologies to those who look forward to the Weekend Preview. For reason I won’t get into, I never had time for it this week. It’s been a hell of a week.

Anyway, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins lose this one in Allentown 4-2 on Friday and have lost two straight and are a paltry 4-6 in their last ten.

I can’t put my finger on it. They are dealing with a lot of call-ups but are getting some bodies in the form of Ty Smith and Taylor Fedun back. They could use some forward help.

Here’s how they lined up:

Lineup Notes: Ty Smith was back. Tommy Nappier was recalled from Wheeling earlier in the day but didn’t dress. Alex Nylander was named as Xavier Ouellet’s replacement at the All-Star Classic in a few weeks.

First Period: At even strength? They were great. On the penalty kill? They sucked. They went 0/2 and were down 2-0 after the period.

Tyson Foerster scored the first goal then Cal O’Reilly scored the second goal.

The Penguins had a power play and, get this, Lehigh Valley who was the team with one less player had more shots during the 2:00 time frame.

So yeah, one of those periods.

Second Period: No better. Ronnie Attard is a beneficiary of the Phantoms playing the role of the Harlem Globetrollers to the Penguins defenders playing the Washington Generals, slams home a shot for a 3-0 Phantoms lead.

Less than 90 seconds later, that may Foerster again doubles up his goal tally for the night with a goal that mercifully ended Filip Lindberg’s night. Enter Taylor Gauthier.

Pens shut down the shots after that but they were on the power play two times in the period but failed to cash out for a goal.

Third Period: They got two goals from their two best players on the ice all game in Tyler Sikura and Corey Andonovski to make things interesting.

It wasn’t that interesting as they would not get closer. They did pull Gauthier for the extra man and heated up, but couldn’t get a third. Had a feeling that if they would have got a third, they woulda got the fourth.

If if’s and but’s were candy and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas.

Three Stars: 3) Sam Ersson (34 saves) 2) Olle Lycksell (three assists) 1) Tyson Foerster

The Good: Nice to see that some of the players played a full 60 tonight.

The Bad: You can’t send 9 guys to Wheeling.

Turning Point: Attard’s goal was way too easy and a blueprint for how easy it was for the Phantoms and how tough it was for the Penguins.

Around the Division: Hartford beats Providence 2-1 in overtime….Charlotte doubles up Rochester 4-2…Springfield beats Belleville 5-1.

Standings: Hershey 59 – Providence 55 – Charlotte 48 – Lehigh Valley 45 – then a four way tie for last with the Penguins, Springfield, Bridgeport and Hartford with 43 points.

Wheeling Update: Nailers are outing Kansas City taking on the Mavericks. That box is here.

Video Highlights: I may be able to work an edit in the morning, hopefully.

More tomorrow after Bridgeport.

Let’s Go Pens!

American Power – Pens LOSE 3-2


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More conventional game tonight for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins, who lose 3-2 on Wednesday after being up 2-0.

It’s concerning, because the Amerks were coming in on a 0-3-1-0 streak and if there was a game on the schedule this week you were hoping they could win going away, it was this one.

Rochester gets two in the second and then a power play goal in the third to snap their losing streak and pick up their eighth straight win over the Penguins.

Here’s how they lined up:

Rochester didn’t post lines.

Lineup Notes: As the graphic says, it was Chris Ortiz in for Adam Smith. Dustin Tokarski was recalled earlier in the day, Ty Smith was returned to Wilkes-Barre ion the transaction.

First Period: Pens waste no time getting a power play goal, something they could have used about 24 hours prior in Utica, to go up 1-0 via Alexander Nylander.

Rochester responded with a goal which was brought back on account of a high stick via replay, so it stayed 1-0 Wilkes-Barre who continued to carry the play.

Penguins double up when Sam Houde continues his hot streak by getting himself a goal.

That goal seemed to wake up the Americans a bit, but Lindberg kept any threats quiet.

Second Period: That thing I said about waking up the Americans a paragraph up was foreshadowing, because Rochester started to pour it on.

An early goal from Lawrence Pilut cut the deficit to one.

About six minutes later Jeremy Davies finds the back of the net and the game is tied.

Davies with the patience of Job, gets a nice goal.

Was really a quiet period for Rochester, who just methodically ate away at the deficit to tie the game heading into the…

Third Period: An iffy Jack St. Ivany slash put Rochester on the first power play of the period for either team and Vinnie Hinostroza scores to give the home team a lead.

The Penguins couldn’t muster the equalizer and with time running out on them, took two penalties.

Three Stars: 3) Lukas Rousek (two assists) 2) Jeremy Davies (goal) Vinnie Hinostroza (goal)

The Good: Didn’t seem like they had any problems scoring early and often in the first period.

The Bad: The first period was their best period and sadly, they were average or below after that.

Turning Point: The second penalty they took late, a Raivis Ansons hold at 16:50 was all she wrote. They were desperately chasing the game and it cost them.

Around the Division: Hershey pounds Lehigh Valley 5-2…Bridgeport gets a much needed win over Hartford 6-2 and Charlotte blanks Utica 4-0.

Standings: Hershey 59 – Providence 54 – Charlotte 46 – Lehigh Valley, Penguins and Bridgeport 43 – Springfield and Hartford 41

Wheeling Update: Nailers were off.

Video HIghlights: probably won’t be able to work an edit in. Been a hell of a week. AHL Video Center is your best bet.

Back at it Friday inn Allentown.

Let’s Go Pens!

Steamed Hams – Pens LOSE 5-1

Just going with a quick one tonight, recapping a game which was delayed 99 days after a power outage halted play between the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins and the Utica Comets.

Penguins lose 5-1. They resumed on a power play, failed to score, Utica scores with .9 left to play to go up two, and when you take a herky jerky game in a herky jerky circumstance, once it runs downhill, it is tough to stop.

Here’s how they lined up:

No one else played in the division, so the Pens are still on the same points, 43, and are fifth in the division behind Lehigh Valley.

They are back in action Wednesday for a more conventional game against the Rochester Americans. More then.

Let’s Go Pens!

On an Island – Pens WIN 3-2


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Looked shaky there for a bit, but they hold on for a 3-2 lead in Bridgeport Saturday night and only allow the Islander, who were chasing the game down a goal in the third period, to just two shots.

They get 22 saves from Dustin Tokarski, fresh off NHL duty and are pointed in the right direction again.

Perhaps, just maybe, they turned the corner with the display they put on in the second half of the game Saturday.

Here’s how they lined up:

Bridgeport didn’t post lines.

Lineup Notes: Lukas Svejkovsky is day to day with a lower body injury after leaving the second period Friday…Taylor Fedun, fresh off re-assignment from Pittsburgh was inserted back and replaced Chris Ortiz…Brooklyn Kalmikov made his AHL debut, replaced Jamie Devane (essentially) … Josh Maniscalco played at forward, commonly a defenseman.

First Period: Pens killed a Bridgeport early power play then on their second attempt finally got one to go courtesy of Sam Houde.

Then Alex Nylander took a neat pass from Drake Caggiula for a goal at even strength that put the Pens up 2-0 exactly one minute later.

Off ice guys took away the assist. It reads Nylander from Caggiula and Nathan Légaré at 16:51.

Pens were rolling down hill but hit a stop sign in the form of a Samuel Bolduc shot that cut the home teams deficit to one.

Second Period: Samuel Bolduc scores his second of the contest to tie the game when his shot goes off Tokarski, then the post, then off Colin Swoyer and in.

Bridgeport takes three penalties in the period but it’s Drake Caggiula scoring with under two minutes to play to give the Penguins the lead for good.

Third Period: Jakub Skarek took over for Cory Schneider in the third period. Penguins get a big save from Dustin Tokarski in the rare work that he daw in the period.

Pens navigate through a Raivis Ansons interference penalty cleanly and then with Skarek pulled for the extra man, Bridgeport is not able to locate the equalizer.

Three Stars: 3) Alex Nylander (goal, assist) 2) Samuel Bolduc (two goals) 1) Drake Caggiula (goal, assist)

The Good: Maybe they turned a corner with that effort and display in second half of the game.

The Bad: How much of it was Bridgeport’s woes though as a team? The Islanders may not be the measuring stick you are after to call this a turnaround.

Turning Point: Caggiula’s goal that gets them the lead for good gets it here.

Around the Division: Charlotte blows out Cleveland 9-0…Hartford beats Rochester 4-1…Springfield slips past Grand Rapids 3-2 in overtime…Hershey beats Belleville 4-2. Providence was off.

Standings: Hershey 57 – Providence 53 – Charlotte 44 – Penguins 43 – Lehigh Valley 43 – Springfield and Bridgeport 41 – Hartford 39

Wheeling Update: Nailers lose in Kalamazoo 3-2 in overtime.

Video Highlights: Probably best to seek them at the AHL VideoCenter.

Back at it Tuesday for the makeup game with Utica then Wednesday for a full game in Rochester.

Let’s Go Pens!