It looks like the perfect mix of offense at the right time and defense at the right time for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins, who won this game tonight by a score of 4-1. The game was much tighter than the score line would indicate. Make no mistake that St. John’s is a good, young team that will win hockey games and contend and most likely will be a playoff contender when all is said and done in the Spring.
But folks, don’t get it wrong, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins are a great team. There isn’t anything that fazes them and they find ways to win. Example: St. John’s had been wearing down the Penguins in the second period of the game tonight leading 1-0. 6’6 center Michael McCarron was all over the place, creating and taking chances available to him. There was a scrum in front of Matt Murray’s net, which was an all too common occurrence all game long with the IceCaps taking liberties after a whistle.
Then this happened:
That is your captain, Tom Kostopoulos, fighting the behemoth McCarron. He got him off the ice for a Penguin power play plus five more for fighting.
If the Penguins don’t cash on the power play, then St. John’s probably goes on to score again and the Penguins lose this game.
It didn’t happen.
The Penguins league best power play saved the day again and the Pens had tied the game and took all the momentum away from St. John’s and played a complete third period that saw them score three goals in the span of 2:23 late in the third to roll to the easy 4-1 win.
Longest lede in the history of the blog I think, but the Penguins have won eight in a row and are the best team in the AHL.
Matt Murray opposed Eddie Pasquale
Conor Sheary – Kael Mouillierat – Scott Wilson
Kevin Porter – Carter Rowney – Dominik Simon
Dominik Uher – Oskar Sundqvist – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Kuhnhackl – J-S Dea – Josh Archibald
Derrick Pouliot – Steve Oleksy
Reid McNeill – Dave Warsofsky
Tim Erixon – Will O’Neill
Matt Murray – Tristan Jarry
Lineup Notes: I was surprised by the Murray start. I would have figured that Tristan Jarry would have gotten the nod but the Pens don’t play again till next Friday, so why not start your number one….Derrick Pouliot returned to the lineup after being scratched last game…Niclas Andersen sat in place of Pouliot. Andersen leads the defensemen on the Penguins with a +7, which is good for Top 15 in the AHL right now. Tom Kuhnhackl actually leads the Pens with a +8 but my, oh my! The depth on this team right now where you are scratching a player who leads your defensemen in +/-. Matia Marcantuoni took the warmup but was also scratched.
First Period: St. John’s jumped to a 1-0 lead with a play in close. Dominik Uher tried to play a puck back to Murray to cover but Daniel Carr was there to poke it past to give St. John’s a 1-0 lead. Pens had a power play late but didn’t send out the first unit instead opting for the second unit and it didn’t work.
Second Period: Penguins took over and if you go back and look from there you will see that no matter what, the Penguins were going to find a way to win the game, only allowing St. John’s a grand sum total of 10 shots the rest of the way. Shots became a premium. Lots of icing calls. Late, Kostopoulos fights McCarron, who picked up an additional two minutes and the Penguins cash on the ensuing power play off a nice setup with Dominik Simon finishing it with a goal over Pasquale’s shoulder for a tie game.
Third Period: Simply put, the Penguins took over. Long offensive zone shifts. But once again, it was Matt Murray that set it all up 200′ down the other end of the ice.
Murray made a save with his mask on a redirect of a Greg Pateryn shot from the point. The Penguins collected and took off the other way. Steve Oleksy fed Tim Erixon who fired a low angle shot that went off of an IceCap defenseman and in for a 2-1 Penguin lead.
Before St. John’s knew what hit them, it was 3-1. Carter Rowney crashed the net and made it 3-1 1:16 later.
St. John’s pulled Pasquale and Derrick Pouliot scored the empty netter from deep in his own zone for a 4-1 lead and the rout was on.
It truly is amazing what can happen when you have a coach that is not all defense, defense, defense. This is not a knock against John Hynes in the least, but it is refreshing to see the Penguins give up more shots in the interest of creating more offense and chances when available. The power play is tops in the AHL? Wilkes-Barre has won eight straight to blast to the best team in the AHL in the middle of November? You take it, and hope that it continues all the way to June.
Three Stars: 3) Tim Erixon (game winning goal, +1) 2) Dominik Simon (goal, even) and 1) Carter Rowney (goal, +1)
Around the Division: Hershey beats Lehigh Valley in Allentown 4-2. Stan Galiev scored a goal down on a conditioning assignment from Washington. Reports from there say that he will be down for the maximum two weeks allowed so you will see him if you come to the game next Friday when the Penguins host Hershey…Springfield crushed Portland 6-1. The Falcons offense has all of a sudden come to life. In the first five games, the Falcons only scored 5 goals. In the last 4 games? Try 22. Bridgeport, Providence and Hartford were all off.
Standings: Penguins (.900 points percentage) — Bridgeport (.667) — Hershey (.636) — Hartford (.591) — Springfield (.500) — Providence (.450) — Lehigh Valley (.400) — Portland (.333)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers lost at home to Kalamazoo 4-3. Ty Loney had a goal for third star honors. Sahir Gill had a goal and an assist. Anton Zlobin and Paul Cianfrini both had assists.
Here is the infographic and the postgame video highlights:
Pens are off now until next Friday when they host Hershey. Nailers travel to Norfolk tomorrow, so maybe I will take a look at them and blog about them Saturday. Stay tuned. If not, the Power Rankings will be here Monday at 4.
Let’s Go Pens!