I always go back to the last game that the Penguins played in an AHL city to bring the graphics over for my post game recaps. The last time the Pens were in Bridgeport was a 7-0 thrashing by Wilkes-Barre back on March 1 of this year. A game that they could do nothing wrong, made the game look easy, locked down the Sound Tigers and Matt Murray picked up another one of his billion shutouts he had last season.
Wilkes-Barre got blasted tonight by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers tonight 4-1. The game really wasn’t within reach by the Pens from the start and the Penguins played from behind all game. Bridgeport Sound Tigers goaltender Christopher Gibson looked spectacular, stopping 26 of 27 shots faced, but if you went back and looked at the game on an AHL Live archive or were at the game in person you would have saw that a good majority of the shots he saved were from the perimeter.
Gibson opposed Matt Murray, making his second start in as many days.
Scott Wilson – Kael Mouillierat – Conor Sheary
Dominik Simon – J-S Dea – Bryan Rust
Dominik Uher – Oskar Sundqvist – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Sestito – Matia Marcantuoni – Josh Archibald
Derrick Pouliot – Steve Oleksy
Reid McNeill – David Warsofsky
Niclas Andersen – Will O’Neill
Matt Murray – Tristan Jarry
Lineup Notes: Harrison Ruopp took warmups but was scratched. Carter Rowney was out for Matia Marcantuoni on the fourth line. Other scratches were Barry Goers and the injury scratch was Tyler Biggs.
First Period: Strong start by both teams with the slight edge in play to the Penguins. The Penguins fourth line of Sestito, Marcantuoni and Archibald seemed to be generating all the chances. Then, with the Penguins on a power play, David Warsofsky couldn’t corral a puck at the blue line, it got past him, and Bracken Kearns broke in unabated and put the Sound Tigers on the board with a shorthanded goal…
The Penguins had a second power play that they looked better on, but the chances were all one and done.
Shots were 11-10 Bridgeport after one. To this point, the Penguins allowed opponents a sum total of 52 shots in one and a third games (Providence had 41 on Friday) so I asked the question on Twitter when the last time you saw a Penguins team give up so many shots in so few games. I may have to go back and look some time this week and see how many cumulative shots the Penguins allowed opponents in a three-in-three weekend last year. It is just highly uncommon.
Second Period: Goals 1:01 apart in this period. First, Will O’Neill on a power play for the Penguins that put Wilkes-Barre on the board…
But soon after, Mike Halmo dropped a pass to Alan Quine who found Jesse Graham all in transition that put the Sound Tigers back ahead 2-1.
Christopher Gibson was becoming the story for his team in net for the Sound Tigers, making calm save after calm save, seemingly seeing and stopping everything. A save on a Josh Archibald deflection through bodies and traffic, a calm stop during sustained pressure by Wilkes-Barre. Penguins had a late power play but couldn’t score on it and Dominik Simon and J-S Dea couldn’t connect on a two-on-one.
Third Period: Penguins were continuing to press with stars like Conor Sheary and Bryan Rust trying to do too much to no avail. A summary of the period and a precursor to the fact that the Pens were not going to get back in the game came about halfway through when Penguins captain Tom Kostopoulos received a cross ice pass and waited out the Bridgeport goaltender Gibson but Gibson didn’t move and made the save anyway.
Time started to become the enemy of the Penguins. Finally Joe Whitney was gift wrapped this goal from this awful turnover by Bryan Rust…
For good measure the Sound Tigers would score on an empty net with Taylor Beck doing the honors.
Three Stars: 3) Jesse Graham (goal, +3) 2) Christopher Gibson 26 saves on 27 shots and 1) Bracken Kearns (goal, assist, +3)
Bryan Rust and David Warsofsky were -3 each. Just a bad night overall. Pens have a week now to work on things and tighten things up.
Around the Division: Syracuse spoils Lehigh Valley’s home opener by a score of 4-3…St. John’s does the same with Hartford 3-1 and Hershey’s explosive offense wasted no time in spoiling Springfield’s home opener by a score of 5-1. Some guy by the name of Chris Bourque scored his 500th career AHL point in the game. Portland and Providence were off.
The Pirates still have yet to play a game, so the standings look is moot for now. The Pens will be .500. Better than Hartford, Springfield and Lehigh Valley.
Conference look is gong to be moot this year also because playoffs are division based. There is a crossover effect, but we can get into that as the season wears on.
I don’t think they are doing SendToNews highlights this year because I went to look and all I found were Western Hockey League highlights. So I guess you are out of luck if you want to see them.
Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off tonight, they open their regular season Friday in Hampton Roads against the Norfolk Admirals.
I’ll update my charts for the blog Sunday and throw a link up here then. I’ll also tweet out a weekly auto-tweet Tuesday as in years past this year.
Pens will probably bus back either tonight or Sunday with a week of practice to prepare for Lehigh Valley before turning around to come back to Bridgeport next Sunday.
My Week 1 AHL Power Rankings will hit the blog Monday at 4, like in years past, so look for that as the next blog post here then.
Let’s Go Pens!