I can’t for the life of me remember if I have use that headline once before here. If I have, I apologize.
Anyway, I have been blogging up this team long enough to see a game like this one coming. Let’s look at the elements….
— You have a Penguins team rolling, winning four straight games, coming off of a 5-0 laugher in Springfield last night.
— A goaltender in Matt Murray who has been hot as of late, and leads the AHL in goals against average coming into tonight’s action.
— A Lehigh Valley team that had its heads kicked in the night before at home against Hershey and the night prior against Albany.
— Andrew Ebbett down from Pittsburgh this afternoon after being re-assigned. Ebbett was a key contributor to the Penguins ending the then six game losing streak against St. John’s about ten days ago.
— You find yourself up 2-0 at home on a Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd of 8,217 people 10:23 into the first period on a game that is being locally televised, also.
You are going to roll, right?
Wrong. Instead, the Phantoms respond with six straight goals, chase Matt Murray in the process and win 6-2. The game devolved late in the third period with fights and misconducts being passed around like a hot potato at a summer camp. Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond is facing at least a one game suspension, picking up and instigator penalty in the final five minutes of the third period.
Penguins went up quickly on the Phantoms with a Scott Wilson power move to the net on Lehigh Valley starting goaltender Robb Zepp at 6:24 of the first. Tom Kuhnhackl tacked on a power play goal off of a Bryan Rust shot that Zepp left a big rebound on.
Wilkes-Barre was cruising. Then they got complacent.
— Andrew Gordon made it a 2-1 game at 12:30 of the first with a dart of a shot while the Penguins were just going through the motions.
— Adam Comrie scored a power play goal at 15:47 to tie the game at two on a snipe of a shot that Murray could have saved.
Second period saw Jesper Pettersson score to make it 3-2. This chased Murray from the net, enter Jeff Zatkoff who was healthy enough to at least back up tonight. The Penguins didn’t allow any more shots the rest of the way, threw everything but the kitchen sink at Zepp the rest of the way, 16 shots total, but couldn’t get anything past.
There was a point in the game when the Penguins were down one where they clearly put the puck past Zepp but ref Keith Kaval ruled incidental contact on Zepp and washed out the goal. I thought that this was the turning point in the game. A 3-3 tie is a lot better than working and working and coming up empty and then getting scored on again and again.
In the third period, the Phantoms wasted no time.
Taylor Leier scored :20 in on the first actual shot that Zatkoff sees and you could feel the game getting out of hand.
Nick Cousins buries a juicy rebound left by Zatkoff for a 5-2 Phantoms lead on a power play goal at 3:53.
Jason Akeson on what must have been a blown assignment because he had all day to make a move and dance into the top of the circles and let go a shot with no traffic in front for a 6-2 Lehigh Valley lead.
Head Coach John Hynes took his timeout after that. Didn’t matter. Game ended up with fights and lots of guys getting tossed on 10 minute misconducts. I thought the pairing of Kaval / Tim Mayer did good as far as assessing 10 minute misconducts to anyone who stepped out of line with the game being well decided between two divisional rivals.
J-S Dea, Matia Marcantuoni, Eric Hartzell, Josh Archibald and Adam Payerl were the healthy scratches tonight. Hartzell will likely get shipped to Wheeling sooner rather than later. Derrick Pouliot was called up to Pittsburgh prior to the game for the injured Christian Ehrhoff.
Three Stars: 3) Andrew Gordon (goal, assist, +2) 2) Nick Cousins (goal, two assists, +2) and 1) Taylor Leier (goal, two assists, +2)
Around the Division: Hershey loses in a shootout to Syracuse 3-2. Followed that one on Twitter and it sounded like an instant classic. Crunch were up 2-0, Bears claw back with a goal late in the second and tie it in the third…..Norfolk beats Binghamton in overtime 2-1.
Standings: Hershey 54 — Penguins 52 — Lehigh Valley 47 — Norfolk 41 — Binghamton 40
Conference: 1) SYR (61) 2) MCH (60) 3) HER (54) 4) HFD (57) 5) SPR (56) 6) POR (53) 7) ALB (53) 8) WBS (52)
Wheeling Update: Nailers lose 4-3 to Kalamazoo. Derek Army had a goal and an assist in the loss.
SendToNews Highlights: Not up yet. Doubt the Pens will offer YouTube. Doubt you’d click through to see them anyway on SendToNews. Let’s move on…
Bears host the Admirals tomorrow and burn off one of three games in hand on the Penguins. Wilkes-Barre is in action Tuesday against Springfield. My Power Rankings will hit the blog Monday at 4 p.m.
Let’s Go Pens!