Andrew Ebbett was recalled to the Pittsburgh Penguins before the start of the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins game and that left Head Coach John Hynes with a decision to make.
Who was he going to insert on the top line with Conor Sheary and Tom Kostopoulos?
The answer was Jayson Megna. It was at the right one.
Fueled by a two point performance by Megna and a 26 save performance by Matt Murray, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins draw to within three points of the rival Hershey Bears with a 3-1 win Saturday night at home. The Penguins burn off their game in hand on the Bears tomorrow afternoon vs. the Hartford Wolf Pack.
Ebbett was recalled because Sidney Crosby got sick before the start of the Pittsburgh game this afternoon and Evgeni Malkin took a bump and left the game due to injury. The lines looked like this…
Conor Sheary – Jayson Megna – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Kuhnhackl – Carter Rowney – Dom Uher
Scott Wilson – J-S Dea – Adam Payerl
Pierre Leblond – Matia Marcantuoni – Bobby Farnham
Brian Dumoulin – Taylor Chorney
Scott Harrington – Barry Goers
Nick D’Agostino – Danny Syvret
Matt Murray – Jeff Zatkoff
First Period: Megna made his presence felt early with a goal at 1:48 to put the Penguins on the board early finishing a nice pass from Tom Kostopoulos on the backhand. Penguins continue with pressure with Carter Rowney nearly scoring off a Bears turnover. Teams would trade power plays. Late, Conor Sheary scored on a shot that beat Bears starting goaltender Philipp Grubauer short side to put the Penguins ahead 2-0.
Second Period: You knew that Hershey was going to make a push, it was just a matter of when. The answer came in the second period. The Bears badly outshot the Penguins and were finally rewarded with a goal from Mike Moore from the high slot that beat a screened Murray and in for a 2-1 Penguin lead. Wilkes-Barre didn’t have to wait long to establish a two goal lead again though. Matt Murray made a big save, then right back down the other end the third line of Tom Kuhnhackl made a pass to Carter Rowney who shot the puck, Grubauer never controlled the rebound and a trailing Dominik Uher deposited the rebound for a 3-1 lead.
Third Period: Grubauer kept his team in it early and often, making a save on a Rowney breakaway, but the Penguins played shutdown defense the whole period and didn’t give the Bears much. What they did get to Murray he stopped. Bears couldn’t get anything past Murray even with Grubauer vacated with about two minutes to play.
Three Stars: 3) Matt Murray (26 saves on 27 shots) 2) Conor Sheary (goal, +1) and 1) Jayson Megna (goal, assist, +1)
Quite the opportunity for Megna and a blessing in disguise for both he and Hynes. That top line of Kostopoulos, Ebbett and Sheary was one of the best but with Megna it looks equal if not better.
Around the Division: Binghamton hosted tomorrow’s competition, Hartford, and lost 4-3. Lehigh Valley was in Connecticut and won 4-2. Norfolk lost 2-0 to Portland up in Maine.
Standings: Hershey 81 — Penguins 78 — Lehigh Valley 65 — Binghamton 58 — Norfolk 52
Conference: 1) MCH (84) 2) HER (81) 3) SYR (78) 4) WBS (78) 5) PRO (75) 6) POR (74) 7) HFD (72) 8) SPR (71)
Wheeling Update: Wheeling lost 4-1 to the Elmira Jackals at home. Eric Hartzell started and took the loss, stopping 32 of 35 shots.
SendToNews HIghlights: Not up yet. I will look again and probably run in the morning edits.
Penguins burn off their game in hand on the Bears tomorrow with a 4:05 start against Hartford. A win would put the Penguins just a point back of the Bears, with the same amount of games to play. Gameday setup hits the blog at high noon Sunday.
Let’s Go Pens!