The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins woke up this morning with an opportunity to clinch their thirteenth straight berth to the Calder Cup Playoffs. They needed a win, with help.
That help never arrived because Albany beat BInghamton this afternoon, so it didn’t make a difference if the Penguins won or lost tonight, but there was still a game to be played.
The Penguins won this game 3-0 and there were a lot of things to discuss.
– 40th win for WBS, tying the AHL mark for most consecutive 40 win seasons (10)
– Eleventh shutout for Matt Murray, who leads the AHL in save percentage (.941) and goals against (1.55) this season.
– Magic number shrinks to two. Penguins can clinch Wednesday in Lehigh Valley.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms were depleted by call-ups and suspensions and skated a man short, but hung around for large portions of this game.
Matt Murray vs. Rob Zepp
One lineup change for the Penguins tonight. Adam Payerl was out for J-S Dea. Dea centered the third line and Matia Marcantuoni bumped down to center the fourth line.
First Period: Exact copy from the night before vs. Worcester, but the Penguins actually had Grade A scoring chances and capitalized. Scott WIlson had a pair this period.
The first came with him camped out at the slot. Tom Kostopoulos wheeled around the net, passes to Andrew Ebbett who passed it right to Wilson who zipped it past Zepp for the 1-0 lead. The Penguins were outshooting the Phantoms 10-5 and had a ton of time in the Phantoms zone.
Wilson got his second when Tom Kostopoulos forced a turnover in the neutral zone, threaded a pass in between the legs of a Phantoms defender to WIlson who roofed it on Zepp to make it 2-0.
Second Period: Penguins remained in control of the game and forced the Phantoms into icings. Whenever they had a lapse in defense, Murray was there, stopping a breakaway opportunity then later a 2-on-1. Teams traded power plays with neither team finding the back of the net and both goaltenders making big saves. The depleted Phantoms were hanging around though.
Third Period: Game was falling into a lull. The Penguins were gifted three consecutive power plays to open, but did not capitalize. Later Brian Dumoulin scored to add insurance to make it 3-0. Tom Kuhnhackl wheeled around the net and tried to center to Dominik Uher. Uher either missed the puck entirely or set a rolling pick on Zepp as the puck wen through his legs and to Dumoulin who wired it home to make it 3-0.
The Penguins were buzzing again. Danny Syvret rung one off the post with Tom Kuhnhackl screening Zepp. Phantoms applied late pressure but the Penguins and Murray closed the door.
Three Stars: 3) Tom Kostopoulos (two assists, +2) 2) Scott Wilson (two goals, +2) and 1) Matt Murray (21 save shutout)
Around the Division: Binghamton lost in Albany 4-1. That loss eliminated the B-Sens from playoff contention. Hershey shuts out Norfolk 2-0. Pheonix Copley still hasn’t lost in 2015 and the Bears have 10 team shutouts. The staff here thinks that is cute, Matt Murray says hi. 🙂
Standings: Hershey 94 — Penguins 87 — Lehigh Valley 69 — Binghamton 68 — Norfolk 57
Conference: 1) MCH (99) 2) HER (94) 3) SYR (89) 4) WBS 87 5) PRO (85) 6) HFD (85) 7) WOR (84) 8) POR (81)
Wheeling Update: Nailers lost 5-2 in Kalamazoo tonight.
SendToNews Highlights: Are not up yet, but the Pens will run a YouTube package most likely and if I remember to add it in here on another edit I will sometime during Easter Sunday.
Penguins are back on the ice Wednesday in Allentown against the Phnatoms with a chance to punch their ticket officially to their thirteenth appearance in the Calder Cup Playoffs. My Week 26 AHL Power Rankings will be up at their normal time, at 4 on Monday. Happy Easter everyone!!
Let’s Go Pens!!