Chirps from Center Ice

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

Hartford Scare — Pens WIN 5-4 (OT)

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If the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins would have lost this game today in Hartford, you would get no argument from me if you said to me that their playoff chances are done like dinner.

If the way that the Penguins would have lost this particular game, I would be the one telling you that here in this opening.

After going up 4-1 to start the third, Hartford ties it to force overtime, but Adam Johnson scores in the extra session to give the Penguins a 5-4 overtime win and a much needed two points in Connecticut this afternoon.

The Penguins may still not make playoffs, but this afternoon’s game didn’t close the door entirely. Faint hope remains.

John Muse opposed Dustin Tokarski.

Lines were…

Lineup Notes: Blake Siebenhaler made his Penguins debut on the third defensive pairing with Chris Summers, replacing Macoy Erkamps.

First Period: The Penguins put up a ton of shots at Dustin Tokarski, but couldn’t score. Then, the Wolf Pack put their first shot on goal at Muse and it goes in. Vinni Letteri threw a seemingly harmless backhander at Muse and it found daylight and squeaked in near post.

Later, Ryan Haggerty got credit on a deflected puck which fluttered past Tokarski to even the game at one. Penguins had the only power play of the period and didn’t capitalize.

No GIFs of the goals today. Sorry.

Second Period: Penguins added three goals in the period. Adam Johnson put a shot on Dustin Tokarski and Sam Lafferty was there to collect the rebound and put it in to make it 2-1.

Then the Penguins made it 3-1 when Chris Summers scored his first of the season when a puck squeaked through Tokarski.

Hartford picked up the pace a bit, putting a few pucks on Muse and even were the benefactors of two power plays, but Muse closed the door on all of the chances.

Joseph Blandisi deflected a Zach Trotman shot that made it 4-1.

Brandon Halverson replaced Dustin Tokarski in net.

Man, I miss those GIFs.

Third Period: When Ethan Prow turned a puck over to Steven Fogarty to make it a 4-2, game, I felt that it was a bad omen.

When Peter Holland scored to make it 4-3 when the Penguins flew the defensive zone, I knew it was a matter of when, not if.

Jimmy Hayes took a trip at 9:51 and Sean Day let one rip six seconds later for a power play goal for the Wolf Pack and a tie game.

What an implosion. Hartford is a last place team!

Wilkes-Barre continued to play fast and loose. Some of the exit passes were lazy and blind. Then Blake Siebenhaler turned a puck over to Peter Holland but Johnny Muse was there to make the cool glove save. I don’t think its was a matter of playing not to lose, as much as Hartford just going for the kill at the hop at the start of the third, knowing that they couldn’t win the game with one shot, but methodically eating the elephant one bite at a time, if I can use a metaphor.

Overtime: Blog story is absent of visuals and I apologize, but I Periscoped it for you here.

That is Adam Johnson with the goal. If you don’t want to sit through the whole thing, Coal Street was good on getting the GIF of the game winning shot up on Twitter quickly:

The Good: Getting out to a three goal lead.

The Bad: Blowing said three goal lead.

Turning Point: There were a few which are crumbled up in a ball here in my mom’s basement. The glove save by Muse on Holland to preserve the tie to get it to overtime get an honorable mention, but let’s go with Adam Johnson’s game winning shot.

Three Stars: 

Around the Division: Charlotte loses to Bridgeport 7-3. Checkers are sputtering, but they won Friday and Saturday….Springfield beats Providence 5-1. Hershey beats Lehigh Valley 4-3 to tie a franchise record with a. point in 15 straight games.

Standings: Charlotte 75 — Bridgeport 67 — Hershey 61 — Providence 61 — Lehigh Valley 60 — Penguins 57 — Springfield 54 — Hartford 50

Wheeling Update: Nailers take down the Fort Wayne Komets in Indiana 6-5 in a shootout this afternoon. Alec Butcher had a goal and two assists and scored the shootout winners for the Nailers.

In the evening update, I didn’t see any video highlights from Hartford or Wilkes-Barre’s accounts.

Pens are back in action Friday at home against Hershey. News as it comes this week.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ Hartford 2/17

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Who: Hartford Wolf Pack

Where: XL Center

When: 3:00 p.m.

Last Game: Last night against Utica, the Pens lost in overtime 3-2. Ryan Haggerty had a power play goal in the final minute of regulation which got the Penguins to overtime. For the Wolf Pack, they were in Bridgeport last night and also lost in overtime. Ryan Lindgren had two assists.

Last Meeting: November 10 in Hartford, the Pens won 4-1. Thomas DIPauli had a goal and two assists and Teddy Blueger had a goal and an assist as well. Anthony Peters stopped 31 of 32 in net for the Pens. Tim Getting scored the only goal for the Wolf Pack in the loss.

Record: For WBS: 24-21-5-2 (55 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division) // For HFD: 21-25-4-3 (49 pts., 8th place Atlantic Division)

Referees: Mathieu Menniti / Alex Normandin

Linesmen: Kyle Richetelle / Nick Briganti

Why You Should Care: Pens simply have to get two points in regulation or overtime today in Hartford by any means necessary to remain in contention in the Atlantic. It is that simple.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

Watch: AHLTV is new and improved and a lot cheaper.

Other Game to Watch: Hershey and Lehigh Valley conclude their weekend home and home this afternoon in Allentown. Best outcome from a Penguin perspective remains a split, since both teams are at or near fourth place.

Next Five Games: vs. HER 2/22, vs. RFD 2/24, @ PRO 3/1, @ HFD 3/2, vs. LV 3/6

No Firepower — Pens LOSE 3-2 (OT)

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Another microcosm of the season as the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins and Utica Comets play to a first period deadlock, then Utica scores in the final minute of the second and again in the opening stages of the third before the Penguins bounce back and score two to tie, with the the tying goal coming in the final minute of regulation. Cam Darcy’s goal in overtime seals it for Utica, and the Penguins fall 3-2.

I don’t think there was anything special that the Comets did that the Penguins didn’t. Everyone had to work for a goal tonight. They went like this:

— A tired group of Penguins gets caught on the ice when linesman Luke Murray rules that Joseph Blandisi did not beat out an icing call, thus trapping Wilkes-Barre out late. Wacey Hamilton wins a face-off back to Brendan Woods and the Comets go up at 19:24 of the second period.

— Vincent Arseneau puts home a juicy rebound left by Tristan Jarry off a shot initially stopped from the point and it’s 2-0 Utica at 2:15 of the third period.

— J-S Dea wins a face-off back to Sam Miletic and the Pens get on the board at 5:46.

— Ryan Haggerty sweeps the tying goal across the line on a power play in the final minute of the game at 19:17 with Tristan Jarry pulled for the extra attacker.

Nifty passing sees Cam Darcy get free and he scores on Jarry in overtime to give the Comets the extra point.

Is it a game where a player like Teddy Blueger would have had an impact? I think so, but he’s up in Pittsburgh and you have to play the cards you’re dealt.

Utica only had 23 shots tonight. The Penguins had 37. I think it was a mixture of lack of a true finisher and the fact that Utica rolled out future hall of famer Michael Leighton in goal. Leighton stopped 35 of 37 and some of his saves were highlight reel. If the Comets are looking for a hero, they found them in Michael Leighton. He down right stole the game for the Comets tonight.

The Penguins are running out of time in looking to be serious contenders in the playoff race. Yes, it’s February, but if you start March ten points back, it’s a tough hole to dig out of and you are looking at three other games on the scoreboard looking for things to break your way.

Gap is now four points to fifth place Hershey and five to fourth place Lehigh Valley. The Phantoms played Friday while the Pens and Bears were off. They won in overtime to Bridgeport at home. Saturday, they played the Bears in Hershey and lost in a shootout. That’s bad for the Pens for a lot of reasons. First, don’t give points to both teams on Friday when both teams are playoff teams right now. Second, don’t give points to both teams when both teams you are pursuing for what is most likely to be the final playoff spot in the Atlantic.

Lineup was the same they used in Hershey Wednesday. John Muse backed up. I don’t know what is going on in that regard. Anthony Peters I do not think is hurt, but that whole situation with him this year has been a jumbled mess on top of a much bigger jumbled mess called the 2018-19 Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins.

The Good? The good was coming back from two in the third period to manufacture at least a point.

The Bad? The bad was Utica not really interested in putting a ton of shots on net and the Penguins just throwing everything they could at Leighton that the Comets net minder turned away easily. I didn’t see a ton of traffic in front of him and his night was pretty easy from where I sat.

Turning point was the blown icing call. The Pens were looking for something to happen, good or bad, and something bad ended up happening. They got a point, but they never recovered.

That’s basically it. More Sunday after Hartford. Gameday setup hits the blog Sunday at 11.

RAPID RECAP: Pens LOSE 3-2 (OT)

Close contest with Utica tonight. Bit of a goaltenders duel. Penguins go down in the second late on a blown icing call, then 2-0 in the third before clawing back to score in the final minute of regulation only to lose in overtime. 3-2 the final.

One point isn’t going to cut it for a sixth place team. Full piece in a bit.

GAMEDAY: vs. Utica 2/16

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Who: Utica Comets

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 7:05 p.m.

Last Game: Wednesday in Hershey, the Pens took a 2-1 lead into the third period but were bested by the Bears 4-3 in a shootout loss. Ryan Haggerty had a goal and an assist in the loss. For Utica, the Comets hosted the Laval Rocket on Wednesday and won 4-1. Ex-Penguin Michael Leighton stopped 20 of 21 shots to pick up the win.

Record: For WBS: 24-21-4-2 (54 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division) // For UTI: 27-19-4-2 (60 pts., 3rd place North Division)

Referees: Tim Mayer / Peter Schlittenhardt

Linesmen: Matt McNulty / Luke Murray

Why You Should Care: Pens need wins but don’t expect Utica to come in and just give it to them. The Comets are fight to hold on to their playoff spot in a very competitive North Division and are pushing for first place. Both teams are well rested having not played tonight, so it should be a very good, competitive hockey game tonight in front of a packed audience.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

Watch: AHLTV is new and improved and a lot cheaper.

Promotion(s): METLIFE PRESENTS MILITARY APPRECIATION NIGHT — Help us pay tribute to the men and women who keep our country safe.  There will be military displays courtesy of the Tobyhanna Army Depot, and the Penguins will be wearing their special camouflage jerseys, which will be auctioned off during the game.*

Tonight is also the Penguins blanket giveaway for season ticket members. Don’t forget your vouchers!

Other Game to Watch: Hershey and Lehigh Valley start their mini two game series tonight in Hershey. Best outcome from a Penguin perspective is a split, since both teams are at or near fourth place.

Next Five Games: @ HFD 2/17, vs. HER 2/22, vs. RFD 2/24, @ PRO 3/1, @ HFD 3/2

* – Promotion information provided from wbspenguins.com/promo-schedule

AHL Power Rankings: Week 19

Well, for the first time in some time, the Charlotte Checkers are no where to be located in this weeks edition of the Chirps from Center Ice AHL Power Rankings Top Five.

For that matter, the San Jose Barracuda are no where to be located as well.

That is because a trio of teams have usurped those two mainstays, with a few more teams just outside the top five in the top ten ready to join them.

Bakersfield, Hershey and Providence are the teams to beat right now. Good luck, cause no one has had any success in beating these teams of late.

Grand Rapids and Rochester lead their respective divisions and round out the top five, but are being hotly pursued for the spots.

After the Americans, jump in to see where everyone else ended up this week if you didn’t link in direct.

1

Last Week: SJ 1 @ BAK 3, SD 1 @ BAK 7, STK 1 @ BAK 4
At this point it’s just not fair. 13 wins in a row for Bakersfield and they are winning these games in decisive fashion. No reason to think that the Condors slow down this week against Ontario.

+1

This Week: @ ONT 2/15, vs. ONT 2/16
Record: 29-15-2-1

2

Last Week: CHA 2 @ HER 3 (SO), CHA 1 @ HER 2, WBS 3 @ HER 4 (SO)
We seriously considered giving Hershey the number one spot, but Bakersfield ekes out the Bears for the number one spot. This week. Big series with Lehigh Valley.

+1

This Week: vs. LV 2/16, @ LV 2/17
Record: 27-20-0-3

3

Last Week: BRI 1 @ PRO 2, PRO 2 @ BRI 4, SYR 0 @ PRO 4
12 game point streak ended Saturday in Bridgeport, but Providence trounced a rested Syracuse team coming in Sunday. This Bruins team is for real.

+3

This Week: vs. TOR 2/15, vs. CHA 2/16, vs. SPR 2/17
Record: 26-17-6-1

4

Last Week: WBS 1 @ GR 4, CHI 4 @ GR 1
On winning and losing ends of 4-1 decisions this weekend. San Antonio drops in this weekend, no easy task.

+3

This Week: vs. SA 2/15, vs. SA 2/16, vs. RFD 2/20
Record: 28-16-3-4

5

Last Week: SPR 1 @ RCH 7, RCH 2 @ UTI 5, RCH 2 @ CLE 5
Is the lead that the Amerks have on the North Division starting to slip? Home and home with the Crunch are going to shed some light on the question.

n/a

This Week: vs. SYR 2/15, @ SYR 2/16, vs. BNG 2/17, vs. CLE 2/20
Record: 29-15-3-2

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Shootout in the Chocolate Factory — Pens LOSE 4-3 (SO)

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In an important game for both teams currently sitting out of a playoff spot in a midweek in February, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins stood toe to toe with the Hershey Bears.

Ever the championship opponent that they are, the Hershey Bears stood right back.

Bears take this one in a shootout. If I didn’t write these road games on the fly after the intermissions, I would just start at the third period and go from there.

Ah, hell, let’s do it anyway.

After the Penguins took a 2-1 lead into the second intermission, the Hershey Bears faced a deficit in the third period and only one time before after trailing after two periods.

Tristan Jarry goes out to play a puck, and with visions of Mike Sgarbossa scoring on an empty net the last time Tristan Jarry tried that move in this rink, the Pens caught a small break and avoided the embarrassment of having a goal scored in a wide open net with the goaltender nowhere to be located but still on the ice.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg. The Penguins chased, panicked, took a penalty and on the delayed call Tyler Lewington scored to tie the game.

The Penguins responded immediately with Ryan Haggerty throwing a puck at the net trying to find teammate Ryan Scarfo for a back door tap in goal. Only the puck hit the skate of Brian Pinho and deflected into his own net to give the Penguins the lead.

Adam Johnson was not able to score on a penalty shot where he was slashed by Lewington. That would have made it 4-2 and would have changed the entire complexion of the game.

Later, Haggerty, who ended up having a very eventful period, was tagged for a very soft tripping call out of a face-off that put the Penguins on the penalty kill. Jayson Megna, playing in his 400th professional game, would score a power play goal for Hershey on a double deflection on an Aaron Ness shot from the point that made it 3-3.

That forced overtime, where Adam Johnson hit the post. Sam Miletic and Zach Trotman ran into each other. No one would score but it was end to end action.

Riley Barber and Nathan Walker would score in the shootout. Sam Miletic and Jimmy Hayes would not. Penguins lose 4-3.

Tristan Jarry opposed Vitek Vanecek.

Lines were…

Lineup Notes: Anthony Angello slid to fourth line center, Jimmy Hayes went back in for Linus Ölund on the fourth line and Macoy Erkamps went in for Tim Erixon on defense. John Muse backed up Tristan Jarry. The Penguins reassigned Cam Brown and Kevin Spinozzi on Tuesday. Thomas DiPauli is still week to week and Jeff Taylor is upgraded to day to day. I saw picture of him on the Pens social media of him practicing in a red no contact sweater.

First Period: Jarry was called into duty quickly, stopping Mike Sgarbossa in the games opening sequences.

Vitek Vanecek responded with a nice stop on a deflection by Jimmy Hayes.

Hershey would get on the board first with a goal by Nathan Walker from the top of the slot.

That goal snapped the Penguins to attention because they took the period over from there. They scored on their only power play of the period with this goal by Kevin Czuczman that tied the game at one.

Jarrett Burton may have deflected the puck in front there. They Penguins won a puck battle and kept the puck in.

I counted just two shots on goal on Jarry after Walker’s goal. The Penguins had a stranglehold on possession an outshot the Bears 14-4 heading into the…

Second Period: Period remained a closely contested affair. Pens had two power plays but didn’t capitalize. Hershey had some better looks in the period but Tristan Jarry turned them all away.

Jimmy Hayes had a breakaway in the first period but couldn’t score. He found himself on another in the second and would have been chased down had he tried to advance closer towards the goal so he did this instead:

If you can’t beat them with speed, use an old school windmill type slap shot goal and blow away the opposing goaltender to give your team a lead on the road against an opponent that hasn’t lost in regulation in over a month. Superb goal.

Third Period: Gave it to you in the lede.

Overtime: I Periscope these when I am not at the games. Here is the entire overtime and shootout for you if you want to sit through 10 plus minutes of camera shake. One day I’ll get a professional setup and just put an iPad on a table and position it towards the TV and walk away. Today wasn’t the day.

The Good: As mentioned in the open, the Penguins stood toe to toe with a division rival in a tightly contested affair.

The Bad: I don’t think anything was figured out here. It’s going to be a very interesting finish.

Turning Point: Adam Johnson’s miss on the penalty shot in the third period would have given Wilkes-Barre a two goal lead with 9:57 to play. Instead, the referees get Haggerty for an awful tripping call and Hershey ties it on the ensuing power play.

Three Stars: 

Around the Division: Hartford beats Toronto 3-2. Everyone else was off.

Standings: Charlotte 71 — Bridgeport 62 — Providence 59 — Lehigh Valley 57 — Hershey 57 — Penguins 54 — Springfield 52 — Hartford 48

Wheeling Update: Cam Brown and Kevin Spinozzi with an immediate impact in their returns, scoring in a 5-2 win over Reading.

Video Highlights: 

Pens are off Friday; check out the Week 19 AHL Power Rankings Thursday.

Let’s Go Pens!