So this Penguins / Phantoms rivalry is going to be a great one. I’ve been following this team for the better part of five years and haven’t witnessed a regular season game that had such high tension and drama. If there were instant classics in the AHL for games in October, this game, a 2-1 Penguins overtime thriller, certainly would take the cake.
The Phantoms spoiled the party for the Penguins in their home opener two and a half weeks ago. The Penguins dealt the Phantoms their first loss on home ice tonight. J-S Dea had the game winner in overtime.
Matt Murray opposed Rob Zepp tonight. Murray is a rookie appearing in just his fifth pro start. You couldn’t tell tonight. Murray played like a seasoned veteran and kept the Penguins in the game all night long. Murray stopped 42 of 43 shots.
The Penguins may be dealing with more injuries as Reid McNeill left the game blocking a shot on the penalty kill and Derrick Pouliot left the game later when he was checked and tumbled into the boards. It looked almost like a whiplash of sorts.
Wilkes-Barre was 9-for-9 on the penalty kill including several Phantoms 5-on-3s that referees Mike Mullen and David Banfield handed out like Halloween candy.
Lehigh Valley was without its top three defensemen on recall to Philadelphia. Brandon Manning, Mark Alt and Shayne Gotisbehere to name two.
The Penguins scored on a five on three when Derrick Pouliot twirled around in the slot to a wide open Andrew Ebbett who pushed the puck across to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead in the first.
Murray made what was probably the banner save of the night diving across to deny Scott Laughton on a 2-on-1 in the first period.
Then with about five minutes left in the second period, Zack Stortini tied the game at one a piece with a trailing roof shot on Murray as part of a 2-on-1.
The third period felt like it was spent entirely on the penalty kill as the the Penguins were whistled for three infractions. They managed to kill them all with relative ease. What did get to Murray was stopped without much trouble, as Murray didn’t allow many rebounds.
Overtime didn’t stop the penalties. The Phantoms didn’t score on theirs thanks to more big time saves by Murray. The Pens did on theirs after a John Hynes time out.
J-S Dea ended it off of a face off play that came immediately after the timeout.
Three stars were 3) Rob Zepp (30 of 32 saves) 2) Matt Murray (42 of 43 saves) and 1) Zack Stortini (goal, +1)
Binghamton lost to Utica 3-2 in regulation. Hershey and Norfolk were off.
Wilkes-Barre heads to Norfolk Thursday. Hynes did not have an update on the conditions of McNeill and Pouliot after the game and Jayson Megna was recalled to Pittsburgh Thursday morning.
Here are the highlights from last night’s game…
Let’s Go Pens!