You never buy into the myth that a game is won or lost in the first five minutes of any given game. For the Penguins, it seemed that way. Here is why.
In the first five minutes of tonight’s game, the Binghamton Senators got in behind the Penguins defense and nearly scored. Noted Penguin killer Shane Prince hit the post of the net that Matt Murray was guarding.
The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins settled in, getting two goals in the first period, and Matt Murray made 25 of 26 saves en route to a 3-1 Penguins win tonight. Another solid performance by Murray, who lost his shutout bid in the third period with 4:22 remaining.
Murray is 11-0-1 in his last twelve starts, by the way.
Murray opposed Scott Greenham.
Scott Wilson – Andrew Ebbett – Tom Kostopoulos
Bryan Rust – Jasyon Megna – Josh Archibald
Tom Kuhnhackl – Carter Rowney – Dominik Uher
Bobby Farnham – Matia Marcantuoni – Adam Payerl
Brian Dumoulin – Taylor Chorney
Scott Harrington – Danny Syvret
Nick D’Agostino – Harrison Ruopp
Matt Murray – Jeff Zatkoff
Alex Boak took warmups but was the healthy scratch along with J-S Dea and Pierre Leblond. Bryan Rust was back in the lineup for the first time since February 21.
First Period: If Binghamton scores on those two partial breakaways that I spoke of in the open then it’s a much, much different ballgame. Thankfully they did not and Murray was able to make 11 saves in the period. Meanwhile, Tom Kostopoulos created a turnover, passed to Scott Wilson who put it on net which trickled in past Greenham with Kostopoulos providing interference to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.
Then, with the Penguins about to go on the penalty kill, Andrew Ebbett wins a face-off and finds a streaking Jayson Megna exiting the zone. Megna turns on the jets and powers past the Binghamton defense and backhands one in past Greenham for a 2-0 lead. Only the third shorthanded goal scored by the Penguins this season.
Second Period: Penguins played a boring period. They were not about to let the explosive Binghamton offense start something that resembled a comeback. Matt Murray made some more saves, most memorable of the period a shoulder save that started a fight between Adam Payerl and Max McCormick.
Third Period: More saves by Murray, denying a quick developing two on one for Binghamton. Carter Rowney scores in a pile just as the Penguins power play expired to make it 3-0. At this time, it was all about whether or not Matt Murray would pick up his 11th shutout.
He wouldn’t. Freddy Claesson fired a shot that Max McCormick tipped in to put Binghamton on the board with 4:22 left. The B-Sens made it interesting late and Murray had to make some more key saves, but the home team would get no closer.
I do love this quote from Carter Rowney as told to Tom Venesky after the game…
Shows that while Murray may not pay much attention to shutouts and personal accolades, his teammates do.
Three Stars: 3) Scott Wilson (goal, even) 2) Jayson Megna (goal, +1) and 1) Matt Murray (25 saves on 26 shots)
The Penguins forechecking was ferocious tonight. I don’t know if the B-Sens are just in cruise control or what for the remainder of what is left of their season but the Penguins jumped on the B-Sens from about the face-off dots up to the blue line and caused many turnovers. One led to the first Penguins goal.
Around the Division: This is the last stand for the division. So far, so good. Hershey hosted the AHL leading Manchester Monarchs and were defeated 6-3. The Penguins need the Monarchs to win tomorrow, in regulation, and win in Allentown against the Phantoms which would pull them to within two points of the Bears. Elsewhere, Norfolk lost in overtime 4-3 to Albany and the Phantoms were idle.
Standings: Hershey 87 — Penguins 83 — Lehigh Valley 65 — Binghamton 64 — Norfolk 55
Conference: 1) MCH (92) 2) SYR (88) 3) HER (87) 4) WBS (83) 5) POR (80) 6) HFD (79) 7) PRO (79) 8) WOR (76)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers beat the Fort Wayne Komets by a score of 2-1. Eric Hartzell was in goal and stopped 35 of 36 and also picked up second star honors.
SendToNews Highlights: Are here.
Penguins travel to a rested Lehigh Valley Phantoms team that was idle tonight. Gameday for this will be up on the blog here at 3 p.m.
Let’s Go Pens!