I wonder if Springfield Falcons fans dread playing the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins in recent years. Here’s why…
Tonight, a 38 save shutout performance, his first of the season, as the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins roll to a 5-0 victory tonight in Central Massachusetts.
Murray opposed Louis Domingue.
Scott Wilson – J-S Dea – Conor Sheary
Tom Kuhnhackl – Carter Rowney – Dominik Simon
Dominik Uher – Oskar Sundqvist – Tom Kostopoulos
Josh Archibald – Matia Marcantuoni – Tom Sestito
Derrick Pouliot – Steve Oleksy
Reid McNeill – David Warsofsky
Will O’Neill – Tim Erixon
Matt Murray – Tristan Jarry
Lineup Notes: Niclas Andersen was out for the newly demoted Tim Erixon, who was re-assigned by Pittsburgh this week. J-S Dea jumped into the spot vacated by the suspended Kael Mouillierat, serving the first of his two games. Tom Kuhnhackl moved up to the second line left wing with Carter Rowney and Dominik Simon. Barry Goers and Tyler Biggs are still hurt.
First Period: This period had everything but a goal. Sustained pressure by both teams, end to end action and 28 total shots by both teams. Penguins went 0-for-3 on a power play that never really threatened. The Falcons matched the Penguins intensity and outshot Wilkes-Barre 17-11.
Second Period: In a game which was settling into a defensive battle, the team that takes advantage of the opponents mistakes usually, if not always, comes out on top. For the the Penguins, the power play has been clicking really well of late, so much so that it is tops in all the AHL.
It worked to their advantage twice in the period. First, it was Derrick Pouliot on this nice shot from the high slot…
The other, Tom Kostopoulos’ 350th point in a Penguin sweater on a tip in front from a Scott Wilson shot from the high right circle…
In what was a defensive battle that ended in a draw in the first period with neither team scoring, the second period was a special teams battle with the Penguins scoring twice and the Falcons coming up empty twice in between the Wilkes-Barre power play goals.
One note from the period, Tom Sestito left the game at some point, I think it was in the first period, and did not return.
Third Period: Springfield never pressured Wilkes-Barre to the point of really testing Murray, became desperate as time melted away and the Penguins scored two empty net goals. The first was Scott Wilson, the second was Matia Marcantuoni.
For good measure, the Penguins tacked on another goal, this time with Domingue in the net. Dominik Simon got a piece of this Tim Erixon blast…
The game was much closer than the score line would indicate, especially in the first period where Springfield came out guns blazing. The Falcons are under a new affiliation with Arizona and are still looking for their first win of the season, so there are growing pains involved in the process.
Three Stars: 3) Tom Kostopoulos (goal, assist, even) 2) Derrick Pouliot (goal, two assists, +1) and 1) Matt Murray (38 save shutout)
Nice breakout game for Pouliot, hitting the scoresheet three times. Have said for a while that his pedigree is something that Wilkes-Barre must use to the fullest, because he is not going to be an AHLer for very much longer.
Around the Division: Portland scored four unanswered at home and beat Albany 4-2, those two will race to the Capital District and rematch tomorrow in New York…Hartford slipped past Syracuse 4-3…Hershey bested Utica in New York in their first matchup since the Utica Devils were a thing by a score 1-0. Hershey’s home opener is tomorrow against Hartford…Providence beat a banged up Lehigh Valley side by a score of 5-3. Bridgeport was the only Atlantic Division team off tonight. The Sound Tigers are in Newfoundland and take on the IceCaps Saturday.
Standings: Bridgeport (.833 percentage points) — Penguins (.800) — Hartford (.800) — Portland (.750) — Providence (.500) — Hershey (.500) — Lehigh Valley (.250) — Springfield (.000)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off tonight and host the Brampton Beast at WesBanco Arena in the home opener for Wheeling Saturday night.
SendToNews Highlights: I may check in the morning, but doubt they will go up.
Penguins and Falcons will race to Pennsylvania for the rematch at Mohegan Sun Arena Saturday night at 7:05. Gameday for this will hit the blog Saturday at 3 p.m.
Let’s Go Pens!