Chirps from Center Ice

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

Playoff Preview? — Pens LOSE 2-1 (OT)

SYR          @          NOR

1                                              2

Depending on whether or not the Hartford Wolf Pack can catch the Northeast Division leading Crunch, Syracuse is probably going to win that division.

The Crunch have 82 ponts. Really depending on whether Hershey or Wilkes-Barre win the East Division and where they finish, what I am getting at here is that a Wilkes-Barre / Syracuse playoff series would be a fun one.

That was because despite a 2-1 overtime loss to the Crunch, this was a really defensive battle and a fun game to watch in retrospect. Adjust here and alter there and the Penguins can easily go seven games with this Crunch team.

Matt Murray vs. Kristers Gudlevskis.

Lines were…

Conor Sheary – Jayson Megna – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Kuhnhackl – Carter Rowney – Dominik Uher
Scott Wilson – Matia Marcantuoni – Bobby Farnham
Pierre Leblond – Adam Payerl – Josh Archibald

Brian Dumoulin – Taylor Chorney
Scott Harrington – Danny Syvret
Derrick Pouliot – Barry Goers

J-S Dea took warmups but was scratched. Nick D’Agostino was the only other healthy scratch. were the other healthy scratches. Injury wise, Nick Drazenovic, Reid McNeill and Bryan Rust are still, “week to week.”

First Period: Ended with the shots 10-10 and was an even period, but the Crunch opened with a large swath of offensive zone time, then it opened up considerably, then the Penguins took advantage. Seemed to me that the Penguisn were taking too many chances that weren’t paying off, including making too many passes. At one point, it was a 7-2 shot advantage for the Crunch. Wilkes-Barre nearly scored on the power play with a few good chances by Carter Rowney at the end of the period.

Second Period: Game was slowly into a defensive struggle when Syracuse’s Yanni Gourde scored from the slot to make it a 1-0 lead for the Crunch. What scant offense the Penguins did manage to generate, they did so in spurts. Syracuse enjoyed about 75% of the possession and offensive zone time, yet somehow, the shots were an even 17 all at the end of the period.

Third Period: Started really herky-jerky. At one point, the Crunch would win an offensive zone face-off, shoot and Matt Murray would make the save. This continued a couple times in a row. Pens needed something to break up the monotony of the lack of offense.

It came when Leblond went offsides entering the offensive zone but shot the puck anyway at Gudlevskis. Jake Dotchin took offense and started shoving Leblond before the linesmen stepped in. Refs put both Dotchin and Leblond into the penalty boxes which opened up four on four ice for both teams. Derrick Pouliot made a pass to Tom Kostopoulos….

[tweet https://twitter.com/nafsnep/status/579088073578844160]

…and the captain scored with three Syracuse players draped on him to tie the game at one a piece.

John Hynes at this point was shuffling up lines and was looking for anything to get a goal. Nothing came of it and it was off to…

Overtime: Penguins dominated the overtime period but it was the Crunch that scored when Jonathan Marchessault made a flip pass to Slater Koekkoek when the Crunch were three on one in three on three and Syracuse would take away the extra point.

Three Stars: 3) Matt Murray (27 saves on 29 shots) 2) Kristers Gudlevskis (27 saves on 28 shots) and 1) Slater Koekkoek (game winning overtime goal, even)

Around the Division: Hershey wins 3-2 in overtime in Portland. Binghamton beat Norfolk 4-3 at home. Lehigh Valley lost in Hartford, 3-2.

Standings: Hershey 85 — Penguins 79 — Lehigh Valley 65 — Binghamton 62 — Norfolk 54

Conference: 1) MCH (86) 2) HER (85) 3) SYR (82) 4) WBS (79) 5) PRO (77) 6) HFD (76) 7) POR (75) 8) SPR (73)

Penguins get help from Providence and Springfield losing in regulation. Magic number for playoffs will be 19. It was 22.

Wheeling Update: The Nailers won 2-1 in a shootout in Elmira.

SendToNews Highlights: Are here.

Penguins are at home tomorrow against the Binghamton Senators. Gameday setup hits the blog at 3 Saturday afternoon.

Let’s Go Pens!!!

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