Depending on your point of view, this one went exactly the way you would have expected.
The Penguins, playing their third game in less than three days, go up 2-0 on Hershey but ultimately lose 3-2. Hershey did not play last night and were the more rested team at home.
Or, maybe there is a trend. The Bears played poorly in Syracuse on Friday, going up 1-0 on the Crunch then fishing five goals out of their nets. The Pens were up 2-0 after two goals by Jayson Megna and looked like they were cruising, despite the fact that they were being badly outplayed in the first period. It could have been a crushing blow to the Bears, but Hershey continued to surge as the Penguins faded.
Can the Penguins protect a lead? I think it may be too early to pin a finger on it.
Jeff Zatkoff vs. Philipp Grubauer
Scott Wilson – Andrew Ebbett – Jayson Megna
Adam Payerl – JS Dea – Bryan Rust
Conor Sheary – Carter Rowney – Josh Archibald
Pierre Leblond – Dom Uher – Bobby Farnham
Brian Dumoulin – Taylor Chorney
Scott Harrington – Philip Samuelsson
Reid McNeill – Derrick Pouliot
Jeff Zatkoff – Matt Murray
Adam Payerl was back in the lineup for Tom Kuhnhackl. Mike OBrien provided updates on the injured. Nick Drazenovic is still week to week with a lower body injury but could be upgraded to day to day this week by John Hynes. Anton Zlobin is week to week with a lower body injury, with no timetable on an upgrade.
First Period: Bears hemmed the Penguins in the zone for the better part of the first half of the period. The shots favored Hershey 7-1 at one point. Stan Galiev hit a post. The Penguins fourth line generated the most offense. Finally, Jayson Megna released this firecracker, which bounced off of Grubauer and off two posts and in. He picked a spot the size of a postage stamp. It was an impressive goal.
Second Period: Megna scored this goal on a breakaway when the teams were four-on-four. It was his third two-goal game in the month of November. J-S Dea took a delay of game penalty, one of his four minor penalties in the game, and the Bears scored to cut the deficit to one. You could feel the air slowly escaping the Wilkes-Barre balloon. Josh Archibald had an opportunity to re-establish the two goal lead but never actually shot the puck on the net, rather shooting about three feet wide of Grubauer.
Penguins had a power play that generated more shorthanded chances for the Bears than to the benefit of the Penguins. The Bears would score on another power play later when Connor Carrick leveled the game at two.
Then this skirmish involving Bobby Farnham. Farnham appears to leave his feet and hits Carrick, then fights Dane Byers. Farnham wasn’t assessed anything on that sequence other than the fight with Byers and Carrick was uninjured, so it will be interesting to see what, if anything comes down the line from the League as far as supplementary discipline. My take: Carrick was fine, Farnham has a history, no penalty on the play, so no suspension. But you cannot leave your feet when you throw a hit and you sure as hell can’t leave your feet when you throw a check if you have a history, so who knows what will happen with Farnham.
Chandler Stephenson was tripped on a breakaway and scored to make it 3-2 Bears. The Bears are two-for-two on penalty shots this season, both against the Penguins.
Third Period: Jeff Zatkoff did everything he could to keep the Penguins in the game, including this double stop on Dustin Gazley and Caleb Herbert.
Penguins had a power play. Dea hit the post and it looked like the puck crossed the line, but referee Kendrick Nicholson was on top of it and washed it out immediately and there was no follow up review.
More Zatkoff saves on a Bears power play, but the Pens would kill that and later, with Zatkoff pulled, were unable to find the equalizing goal.
Three Stars: Jayson Megna (two goals, +2) 2) Connor Carrick (goal, assist, even) and 1) Philippe Cornet (goal, -1)
Around the Division: There wasn’t any action. They all watched us.
Standings: Penguins 19 — Hershey 17 — Lehigh Valley 13 — Norfolk 12 — Binghamton 12
Conference: 1) BRI (21) 2) MCH (20) 3) WBS (19) 4) SYR (19) 5) SPR (19) 6) HFD (18) 7) ALB (18) 8 )WOR (17)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off.
SendToNews Highlights: Are here.
The Pens still lead the division by two points but Hershey has a pair of games in hand. Wilkes-Barre could really have opened up a lead and taken the games in hand equation out of the picture with another perfect weekend, but come on, nothing is easy with this team.
But for breaking news, my Week 6 Power Rankings hit the blog at 4 p.m. Monday. Check those out then.
Let’s Go Pens!