I’d be more upset about this one, a 6-5 overtime loss for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins to the Charlotte Checkers if it was anyone else in the division.
Charlotte is 12-3. They are a great team, there is no getting past that. The Penguins had them down 4-1 tonight and the Checkers slowly but surely mounted yet another Mohegan Sun Arena comeback and won the game in overtime.
If the opponent is a .500 opponent or a last place team, you put teams like that away for good when you are up 4-1. The Penguins tried to do that tonight to the Checkers but there was too much time on the clock and too many good players on the Charlotte team.
Anthony Peters opposed Alex Nedeljkovic.
Lineup Notes: Jimmy Hayes returned, replaced Anthony Angello who goes top line, who replaced Tobias Lindberg who goes fourth line and bumps Ryan Horvat out of the lineup. Defense was unchanged.
Garrett Wilson was reassigned by the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier in the day but was at morning skate in Ottawa this morning and didn’t make it in time.
First Period: Aleksi Saarela scored on a rebound of a shot by Trevor Carrick that put the Checkers on the board first…
Penguins would get a power play and score on it when Adam Johnson scored from the point that tied the game for the Penguins.
Less than a minute later, Stefan Elliott throws a harmless shot at Nedeljkovic that goes in and it’s all of a sudden 2-1.
Thomas DiPauli would find space while Charlotte’s fourth line was out and he scored to make it 3-1.
That ended Nedeljkovic’s night, enter Callum Booth.
Now here is the thing about this move. It wasn’t an indictment on Nedeljkovic’s play as much as hit was a slap in the mouth to the players that played in front of him by head coach Mike Vellucci. Nedeljkovic is Charlotte’s iron horse. He plays in virtually every game for them and wins. Booth had a 1-1 record coming into tonight and was a virtual unknown.
Second Period: Adam Johnson scored to make it 4-1 early in the period.
Charlotte then got two bang bang goals from Cliff Pu and Martin Necas and it was uh oh time for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins.
(initial call was for McKeown, but was changed to Pu)
Callum Booth had a save on Jarrett Burton that totally changed the complexion of the game at the time.
Charlotte, pressing and hammering each shift for a goal, get a ten bell, highlight reel save from their backup goalie to preserve the one goal deficit. That ignited Charlotte.
Third Period: Long time readers of the blog will sometime see me use the term, “not playing to win, playing not to lose” from time to time. That was definitely what the Penguins were doing when the third period started.
Checkers get first five shots on goal, finally break through when Dan Renouf unleashes a shot from the point that ties the game for the Checkers.
Charlotte wasn’t done.
Six seconds into a Tobias Lindberg hold, Greg McKegg scored to make it 5-4 Checkers.
The Penguins mustered only three shots on goal to this point, and were losing.
But then Anthony Angello did this…
That basically got the Penguins at least a point, because Charlotte never got enough of a look in regulation to win it outright.
Overtime: Wilkes-Barre never possessed the puck in overtime and Aleksi Saarela scored to win it for the Checkers.
The Good: The Penguins had the best team in the league in a 4-1 hole.
The Bad: That hole? The Penguins let the best team out of said hole and they couldn’t hold onto a lead and lost in overtime,
Around the Division: Bridgeport beats Belleville and sweeps the weekend, they win 2-1…Hartford thumps a listless Utica club 6-3…Hershey splits the weekend series with Cleveland and lose 5-2…Providence beats Rochester 3-2 in overtime…Springfield clips Lehigh Valley 3-2.
Standings: Charlotte 27 — Bridgeport 24 — Springfield 20 — Lehigh Valley 20 — Penguins 19 — Hartford 17 — Hershey 17 — Providence 14
Wheeling Update: The Nailers win 4-1 in South Carolina, beating the Stingrays 4-1. Kevin Spinozzi figured into every goal, scoring one and assisting on three others.
Pens are off until after Thanksgiving, when they travel up to Springfield Friday. Remember my Power Rankings post will be here on Wednesday. If there are any news or notes in between I will fill them in here.
Let’s Go Pens!