This was a heavyweight battle early on in the American Hockey League’s Atlantic Division. On the one hand, you have theWilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins, winners of five straight facing off against the Hartford Wolf Pack, who have amassed points in every game played so far but for their first game of the season.
It was one game of a six game series that goes to the home side, the Penguins winning 4-1.
Matt Murray vs. Magnus Hellberg.
Lineup wise, Scott Wilson was back from his one game suspension, and took the spot of Ty Loney.
On defense, Reid McNeill was in for Will O’Neill.
Kevin Porter, reassigned today by Pittsburgh was not in the lineup because this would have been his third game in three days in his third city. (Washington Wednesday, Pittsburgh Thursday, Wilkes-Barre today)
First Period: Hartford is a speedy quick team and that was on full display early and often. The Pens were forced into sloppy play and general puck mishandles. They did an OK job of containing the speed of a Wolf Pack team that jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead when Nick Tarnasky was alone in front and slammed one home on Matt Murray.
What shots the Penguins did get to Hellberg, it seemed like he was spilling rebounds all over the place. It bit him when Nic Andersen threw a shot on net that rebounded to Tom Kuhnhackl and then pinballed to Carter Rowney cutting in near he far post and in for a tie game.
Neither team had any success on the power play in this period or the entire game.
Second Period: Pens matched Hartford’s speed with being smarter with the puck than they were in the first. In the middle of the period the game opened up to a furious pace which resulted in end to end play.
Eventually Wilkes-Barre got a chance they cashed on. Scott Wilson peeled away from the near wall and threw a shot on Hellberg that he tried to smother in his breadbasket, but never controlled. He wasn’t down in the butterfly, the puck kicked off him back to Wilson who followed the play and slipped it under Hellberg and in for a 2-1 Penguin lead.
The Penguins think they score again when Tom Kostopoulos tips in a shot but referee Garrett Rank washed out the goal immediately citing incidental contact with the goaltender before the shot was taken. The replay shown afterwards, showed something entirely different, which incited the crowd angrily.
Third Period: Penguins took control and used special teams to get them there.
Short handed, Dominik Uher and Oskar Sundqvist broke in on a two on one. Uher made a pinpoint pass to Sundqvist who stabbed at it and redirected it past Hellberg and in for a 3-1 Penguin lead.
Physicality picked up. Pens kept their cool though.
Later with Hellberg vacated, Scott Wilson scored on an empty net to seal it.
Three Stars: 3) Carter Rowney (goal, +1) 2) Oskar Sundqvist (goal, even) and 1) Scott Wilson (two goals, +2)
Matt Murray was stellar again, stopping 29 of 30. He had the secondary assist on the Sundqvist goal, the second game in a row where a Penguin goaltender picked up an assist. Tristan Jarry had an assist in Wednesday’s contest against Binghamton.
Around the Division: Bridgeport beats Albany 3-2 in the Capital District…Springfield stomps Rochester 6-1…St. John’s squeaks past Lehigh Valley 3-2…Providence beats Portland 6-4 and Hershey jumps out to a 1-0 lead but Syracuse and their 30th ranked power play strike twice and the Crunch win 4-2.
Standings: Penguins (.875 percentage points) — Bridgeport (.700) — Hartford (.688) — Providence, Hershey, Portland (.500 each) — Lehigh Valley (.375) and Springfield (.357)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers lose at home to the Adirondack Thunder 4-1. Patrick McGrath scored the only goal for the Nailers in the loss.
Here is your infographic on tonights game courtesy of Coal Street:
And video highlights. Check out that Sundqvist shorty…
Pens are off the rest of the weekend, back in action Wednesday against St. John’s. I may take a look at the Wheeling / Quad City game and blog about it. If not, I will have my chart refreshes done this weekend and the Week 4 AHL Power Rankings up on the blog Monday at 4.
Let’s Go Pens!!