I don’t want to say that the Penguins are back, yet. But this weekend is a step in a positive direction.
Wilkes-Barre is 7-1 in the regular season against the St. John’s IceCaps (where was this last June?) and dominated the weekend with a 4-1 win tonight.
Jeff Zatkoff vs. Peter Budaj
The lineup remained unchanged from last night.
First Period: Tom Grace used to coin the phrase, “it was OK if you like perfect.” That was the best way to describe the Wilkes-Barre / Penguin start of this game. They came out flying. Scott Wilson got his first goal of the game and his first professional goal and the first regulation lead for the Penguins in 2014-15. Wilson wheeled around a fallen Julian Melchiori and cut in and backhanded a shot past Budaj for a 1-0 Penguins lead.
Then, the Pens tacked on another when they cycled a puck down low. Tom Kostopoulos set up Jayson Megna in between the circles. Megna dished to an unmarked Nick Drazenovic who did not miss to give the Pens a 2-0 lead. It was two goals on four shots for Wilkes-Barre to this point.
The assault continued. I was listening to Brian Rogers tonight because of technical problems streaming the game from my iPad to my brothers Apple TV (sorry, Obie) and he said that Budaj was out there, “all alone” and it showed. The Pens did anything they wanted. They threw pucks on net, won face-offs, and looked great.
Second Period: The exact opposite of the first. St. John’s pressed the Pens into mistakes and the IceCaps capitalized. JC Lipon scores to make it 2-1 after the Penguins don’t clear. Head Coach John Hynes called time out afterwards to settle things down and slow the momentum, heading to the St. John’s side. Pens killed a late penalty and then needed to kill 1:59 of another one heading into the….
Third Period: The pendulum of momentum swung back to Wilkes-Barre’s side. It started with a nice 2-on-1 break shorthanded chance that Budaj stopped. Budaj was on point all night, really.
Tom Kuhnhackl crashed the net and Bryan Rust smacked home the rebound to extend the Pens lead back to two goals again.
Zack Torquato scored an empty netter with Budaj vacated.
Three Stars: 3) Brian Dumoulin (+3) 2) JC Lipon (goal, -1) 1) Nick Drazenovic (goal, +1)
Around the Division: Hershey wins in Springfield 4-1….Binghamton lost to Syracuse in Central New York 4-2…Lehigh Valley loses in their old stomping yard Glens Falls to the Adirondack Flames 4-2 and Manchester beats Norfolk 4-2.
Standings: Lehigh Valley 4 — Hershey 4 — Penguins 4 — Norfolk 4 — Binghamton 3
Conference: 1) WOR (6) 2) ALB (5) 3) LV (4) 4) SYR (5) 5) HFD 6) HER 7) MCH 8) WBS all have 4.
Wheeling Update: Nailers win their home opener 6-3. Eric Hartzell backed up. Carter Rowney had a goal and three assists and was named first star of the game.
SendToNews HIghlights: Are here.
Here is the postgame infographic from tonight’s game.
Pens fly out Sunday morning and head to Albany.
Let’s Go Pens!!!