We may have something special brewing here.
The Penguins used a great start in the second period to roar past the St. John’s IceCaps to a 5-2 final tonight. J-S Dea (1-3-4), Will O’Neill (3 assists) and Tom Kuhnhackl (2-1-3) all had strong games. The Penguins improve to 8-1 on the season and have won seven straight and sit atop the Atlantic Division.
The opponent doesn’t seem to faze the Penguins. Hard nosed Hartford? Obliterated 4-1. Young up and coming St. John’s? Blasted tonight 5-2.
I noticed, especially in the first period when it was back and forth, that the Penguins adjusted to the opponent. St. John’s wanted to go up and down and the Penguins simply adjusted. In prior years, maybe you see the opponent come out a certain way and the Penguins try to ride out the pace and try to swing it into the way that they want to play and come out on top. This year? Seems like they adjust to the style that the opponent wants to play and take advantage of their opportunities.
Matt Murray opposed Zac Fucale.
With this being a work night, taking the veteran option on the lines for tonight:
Kevin Porter made his Wilkes-Barre debut.
Derrick Pouliot was scratched tonight. This report from Jonathan Bombulie explains part of it. If you don’t want to click off, I’ll explain. He was cited on November 1 for public drunkenness in Wilkes-Barre, taken to Wilkes-Barre police headquarters and released a sober adult.
The other part is he also is apparently dealing with a lower body injury, picked up in yesterday’s practice.
I am not going to touch this story anymore than I have. Moving on…
First Period: IceCaps usually score first because they take advantage early and pump a lot of shots on net. The Penguins matched that tempo with shots of their own. Finally, Tom Kuhnhackl got a step on a guy and blasted a shot past Fucale for a 1-0 Penguin lead. It was Kuhnhackl’s fifth straight game with at least a point.
St. John’s would find themselves on a power play and 6’6 center Mike McCarron would waste no time in redirecting a shot from Bud Holloway in front of Murray for a tie game.
Late, Zac Fucale absolutely robbed J-S Dea on the far side. Fucale had no idea where the puck was before the last minute when he blindly dove over to deny Dea’s attempt.
The first period was an absolute track meet, with 22 total shots, 12 for St. John’s, 10 for the Penguins.
Second Period: It was an offensive explosion for the Penguins in every sense of the word.
At :44, Carter Rowney floats to the slot and rips one past Fucale. 2-1 Penguins.
At 2:30 on a power play, Will O’Neill drew everyone to his side and dished to J-S Dea who blasted one past Fucale and in for a 3-1 Wilkes-Barre lead.
Tom Kuhnhackl finished a breakaway on a backhander at 3:29 that chased Fucale, who did not register a save in the period. Enter Eddie Pasquale, who hasn’t seen AHL live fire in over a year.
Three goals in a span of 2:45 by the way.
Dave Warsofsky picked up his 100th AHL point with an assist on the Dea goal. Later, he picked up his 101st with a goal from the blue line through a screen that beat Pasquale for a 5-1 Penguin lead.
St. John’s put ten more shots on Murray, but he make quick work of all of them.
Third Period: St. John’s would pump 21 shots at Murray in the period and he would only get beat on one of them when Christian Thomas swept in a rebound. Pens would only manufacture 5 shots on net in the period.
I don’t know if it was laxity on the Penguins part or desperation on the St. John’s part, but Murray looked taxed and playing like it was a one goal game.
Three Stars: 3) Will O’Neill (three assists, +2) 2) J-S Dea (goal, three assists, +3) and 1) Tom Kuhnhackl (two goals, assist, +3)
Around the Division: Hershey beat Bridgeport in a kids day game up in Connecticut by a score of 4-2…Toronto shutout Hartford 5-0 in the Connecticut capital and Utica beat Portland 3-2.
Standings: Wilkes-Barre (.889 points percentage) — Bridgeport (.667) — Hershey (.600) — Hartford (.591) — Providence (.450) — Lehigh Valley (.444) — Springfield (.438) — Portland (.375)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers are off until Friday.
Here are the video highlights…
St. John’s and Wilkes-Barre rematch Friday night.
Let’s Go Pens!