You can feel good about this game, I think. A 3-1 Wilkes-Barre win over a desperate Pirates team looking to solidify themselves as a playoff team. A sweep of the season series against the Pirates and more space between fifth place in the conference and inching closer to the Hershey Bears for the Division title.
The Penguins did this with the back up, Jeff Zatkoff and many changes to their lineup.
Boatloads of news pre-game. Scott Harrington and Brian Dumoulin were both recalled to Pittsburgh before the game today. The Penguins skated a defenseman short. Here is a look at the lines…
Andrew Ebbett – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Kuhnhackl – Carter Rowney – Dominik Uher
Bryan Rust – Jayson Megna – Kasperi Kapanen
Pierre Leblond – Matia Marcantuoni – Bobby Farnham and Josh Archibald
Danny Syvret – Clark Seymour
Nick D’Agostino – Alex Boak
Jeff Zatkoff – Matt Murray
Conor Sheary was a scheduled scratch today. Obie said in pre-game that this was the plan, coming off of injury. He is expected back in the lineup Friday at home vs. Albany. Danny Federico took part in the warmups but was scratched. Other notable healthy scratches was Adam Payerl.
Zatkoff opposed Mike McKenna.
First Period: The question of what the Penguins would look like with their two of their best defensemen up in Pittsburgh was answered fairly quickly. The short term answer? OK.
The Penguins haven’t been known at all for their special teams work in wining them hockey games, but it was exactly that which helped them jump out to a two goal lead in the period.
With Bryan Rust in the box for a for a penalty, Josh Archibald read some miscommunication by Portland, stole it and zipped up the ice with a streaking Andrew Ebbett on a two on one, fed Ebbett who scored:
The Penguins then went to a power play, and off of a three on one, Scott Wilson scored this goal:
In the last minute, Bryan Rust was blasted from behind on this unpenalized play…
Second Period: Rust did not return to the ice with the team. Penguins kept things simple playing a defenseman and now a forward down with Rust injured. They were awarded four power plays in the period but unlike the first, were unable to cash on them. New guy Steven Shamanski was one of the players keeping things simple, hit the post. Jayson Megna was robbed twice by excellent saves by Mike McKenna, one on a power play and another on a nice give and go setup by Archibald.
Third Period: There were two tests that I think the Penguins passed with flying colors this period that won them the game. First, the Pirates got the jump on the Penguins to start the period and forced the Penguins into a penalty. They killed it easily.
Then Carter Rowney extended the Penguin lead with this nice blast that made it 3-0.
The second test that the Penguins passed was a full 5-on-3 penalty that refs Chmielewski and Brenk gift wrapped for the home team. Pirates head coach Ray Edawards elected to go with an extra attacker and pulled McKenna. The Penguins and Jeff Zatkoff weathered the storm. They killed it easily. Steve Shamanski hit the post on the empty net just as the penalties expired. McKenna went back in the net on the fly.
Justin Hodgeman scored in a flurry of bodies afterward that spoiled the would be shutout bid Zatkoff had going. They rode steady defense and stayed disciplined from there on out.
Three Stars: 3) Brendan Shinnimin (goal, even) 2) Jeff Zatkoff (29 saves on 30 shots) and 1) Andrew Ebbett (goal, assist, +1)
Around the Division: Everyone else had off.
Standings: Hershey 96 — Penguins 93 — Lehigh Valley 72 — Binghamton 72 — Norfolk 62
Conference: 1) MCH (105) 2) HER (96) 3) HFD (93) 4) WBS (93) 5) SYR (91) 6) PRO (89) 7) WOR (86) 8) POR (83)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers closed out their regular season in Canada with a 4-2 win over the Brampton Beast. Eric Hartzell stopped 31 of 33. The Nailers now prepare for the Toledo Walleye in the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
SendToNews Highlights: Are not up yet, I will look again later as I finish the Power Rankings.
Pens bus home tonight, will probably have off Monday and maybe Tuesday as they prepare to close out the regular season with home games against the Albany Devils and Norfolk Admirals before closing out the regular season in Allentown next Sunday.
The Power Rankings will hit the blog Monday at 4. The chart refresh will update probably before then. I tweet a link around 12:30 Tuesday.
Let’s Go Pens!!!