Chirps from Center Ice

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

Winning Wednesdays — Pens WIN 5-1

   button_stj200       vs.       WBS

 1                                       5

It had to end sometime. It did tonight. Penguins win 5-1 against a good St. John’s team that plays better than its last-in-the-Atlantic-Division record indicates.

Goals from the veteran leader, Tom Kostopoulos, two from rookie Conor Sheary, one from Bobby Farnham, on a breakaway of all things. 25 saves by Matt Murray and the Penguins are back to their winning ways.

Before the game, a bunch of news items were announced. First, Bobby Farnham and Derrick Pouliot switched places. Eric Hartzell was recalled to Wilkes-Barre in place of Jeff Zatkoff who was hurt in practice Tuesday. Also, the AHL announced starters for the AHL All-Star Classic to be played in Utica on this coming Monday. Both Tom Kostopoulos and Derrick Pouliot were named starters. There hasn’t yet been an announcement or a final decision on whether Jeff Zatkoff will participate in the events or if a replacement will be named. If I am the Penguins and Zatkoff, I call Springfield and tell them to look for a replacement and let Zatkoff have the time off. Who knows what will happen.

I wrote that last paragraph this afternoon so I didn’t have to throw the links in at 10:30 on a work night, but Tom Venesky from The Times-Leader tweeted after the game that Zatkoff is out till after All-Stars. Jonathan also had more here. I stand by what I crossed out, Zatkoff shouldn’t play. Let someone equally deserving and healthy go to Utica.

Matt Murray vs. Connor Hellebuyck

Taking the veteran option on handwriting out the lines tonight, as I have to get up for my big boy job Thursday morning. So here are Mike O’Brien’s tweets of the line rushes…

[tweet https://twitter.com/MikeOBrienWBS/status/558043646629380099]

[tweet https://twitter.com/MikeOBrienWBS/status/558043928541147136]

With Jeff Zatkoff and Bryan Rust injured and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond serving the first of his three game suspension, the Penguins has no healthy scratches.

First Period: Penguins killed an early penalty, then Nick Drazenovic won an offensive zone faceoff to Tom Kostopoulos who blasted it past Hellebuyuk and in for a 1-0 Penguins lead.

Moments later, Bobby Farnham scored on a breakaway. I wish I had a Vine of this, I am sure that Coal Street will have that as part of the highlight package. Farnham picked up the puck at center ice and zipped down the ice and put the puck over Hellebuyuk’s glove and in.

Penguins must have gotten the message. Jump on them. Finish your chances. The shots were 12-5 Wilkes-Barre.

Second Period: Penguins manufactured a goal out of thin air. Literally. Drazenovic passed it straight to Sheary who put the puck past Hellebuyuk and in for a 3-0 lead. This was a play that didn’t look like it was going to develop into anything and Sheary got the goal.

After that, St. John’s picked it up. To this point, the IceCaps had just 6 shots on goal. They began to pepper Murray and forced him into some rapid fire saves from all angles. Late, with Nic Blanchard in the penalty box for an elbowing call, the IceCaps quickly transitioned into a two on one rush and Keaton Ellerby scored a shorthanded goal against the Penguins, the second allowed this season by Wilkes-Barre.

Third Period: Felt at the time that the next goal, whenever it was scored, would be a huge goal. Penguins got a power play and the IceCaps turned it over tight to Conor Sheary who wasted no time and scored to make it 4-1 Wilkes-Barre. Penguins clamped down from there, time melted off and Scott Wilson tacked on an empty net goal to put it away for the Penguins.

Three Stars: 3) Bobby Farnham (goal, +1) 2) Tom Kostopoulos (goal, assist, +1) and 1) Conor Sheary (two goals, even)

Around the Division: The Bears keep it three ahead of the Penguins with a 7-2 drubbing of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in Allentown….Josh Manson’s goal at 7:00 of overtime (don’t know how that’s possible) give the Norfolk Admirals a 3-2 overtime win over the Charlotte Checkers at Scope tonight. The Penguins travel there tomorrow. Binghamton was off.

Standings: Hershey 49 — Penguins 46 — Lehigh Valley 43 — Binghamton 38 — Norfolk 36

Conference: 1) MCH (57) 2) SPR (56) 3) HER (49) 4) SYR (53) 5) HFD (51) 6) WOR (47) 7) POR (47) 8) ALB (46) 9) WBS (46)

Penguins still are out of a playoff spot as virtually everyone ahead of them won a game or got points.

Wheeling Update: The Nailers are off on the All-Star break for the ECHL.

SendToNews Highlights: YouTube instead….

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZYSC9KcmI4]

Pens travel to Norfolk tomorrow for the 7:30 start Friday against the Admirals. Unless there is anything major Thursday, expect the next blog update to be your Friday Gameday setup against the Admirals at 3:30 p.m.

Let’s Go Pens!

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