I had a feeling this morning that Matt Murray was going to start in goal this afternoon in Allentown and would probably, provided that the Penguins do what they need to both offensively and defensively, get another shutout. I had the feeling that he was due again.
Face it, the Phantoms have struggled this season on the ice. They probably aren’t making playoffs this season after this weekend’s performance, getting just one point out of a possible six. But, they give the Penguins fits matchup wise.
But the Penguins haven’t been good since sweeping Hershey last weekend and have only had a point in four games since. We all know that the Penguins are an extremely well coached team and John Hynes won’t sit by idle while his teams falls down the rungs of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
So couple the Phantoms recent struggles and the whip that is Hynes on the horse they call Penguins, and you get a Wilkes-Barre win, this time 3-0.
Matt Murray’s tenth shutout. He is 10-0-1 in his last 11 starts. He breaks another record that existed for a long, long time. This is Gordie Bell’s shutouts in a season for a rookie goaltender, a record that has stood since 1942-43. Just a remarkable display for the Penguins rookie goaltender.
Murray opposed Rob Zepp, who has given the Penguins fits himself.
Scott Wilson – Jayson Megna – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Kuhnhackl – Carter Rowney – Dominik Uher
Bobby Farnham – Matia Marcantuoni – Josh Archibald
Pierre Leblond – J-S Dea – Adam Payerl
Brian Dumoulin – Taylor Chorney
Derrick Pouliot – Scott Harrington
Danny Syvret – Nick D’Agostino
Matt Murray – Jeff Zatkoff
Conor Sheary and Barry Goers were out, so it was all hands on deck for the Penguins. No healthy scratches.
First Period: Not really much going in the first period. Phantoms had the first nine shots on goal before the Penguins began to store and come to life but there wasn’t any scoring.
Second Period: Penguins had a few power play opportunities, but were getting murdered in the face-off dot. Ever since Andrew Ebbett went up, they have struggled. The Penguins didn’t score on any power plays in the period, but Tom Kostopoulos, at the end of his shift, did this…
1:03 later, Bobby Farnham did this…
Phantoms tried to create chances, but Matt Murray was sharp.
Then, this happened….
Stortini was only given a 2:00 boarding minor. Farnham was fine. Stortini should have been ejected. The Penguins should send tape to the league. If that is any other player on the receiving end of that “hit” by Stortini, they are incapacitated. Stortini should have been ejected.
Matia Marcantuoni’s speed was on full display in this game. He used his speed to generate several chances.
Third Period: Boring period if you are a casual hockey fan that would be happening to watch. Penguins clamped down defensively and all Phantoms chances were one and done. Time dwindled and it became a question whether the Phantoms would squeak one past Murray and start a comeback. It didn’t happen. Murray made a big stop before on a Mark Alt redirect.
With the Phantoms net vacated, Scott Harrington backhanded a shot from his own blue line that went in that sealed the 3-0 win for the Penguins.
Three Stars: 3) Bobby Farnham (goal, +2) 2) Tom Kostopoulos (game winning goal, +2) and 1) Matt Murray (32 save shutout)
Don’t let the 18 shots that the Penguins had in the game concern you. They were looking to preserve the win in the third period and later to preserve the shutout for Murray.
Around the Division: Can’t figure this one out. Binghamton comes to Wilkes-Barre last night and hands the Penguins a 4-3 loss yet goes to Bridgeport, with Peter Mannino in net again, and lose 7-1. Bridgeport is the worst team in the Eastern Conference, by the way. Norfolk and Hershey were off.
Standings: Hershey 87 — Penguins 81 — Lehigh Valley 65 — Binghamton 64 — Norfolk 54
I am not calling the division race over yet. Wilkes-Barre won its game in hand on Hershey today. Had they lost, then I would have conceded to the Bears. Hershey still has to play the East’s best team in Manchester for a pair soon.
Conference: 1) MCH (90) 2) HER (87) 3) SYR (84) 4) WBS (81) 5) PRO (79) 6) HFD (77) 7) POR (76) 8) SPR (75)
Providence was up 2-0 on St. John’s today at home and lost 3-2. Bruins have a game in hand. Just something to watch. Hartford has a game in hand on Providence and two games on Wilkes-Barre, but the Pens and Wolf Pack play each other on April 1.
SendToNews Highlights: Are here.
Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off.
The Week 24 AHL Power Rankings go up Monday at 4. Check them out then.