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Countdown to Opening Night
Penguins vs. CheckersOctober 7th, 2017
18 days to go.
A fan blog about the AHL's Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins
The fact that Matt Murray collected his second shutout of the season, his 14th overall in 50 total career games played is probably the fourth or fifth thing that the papers or other blogs are going to write about after this 7-0 obliteration of the Hershey Bears by the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins Friday night.
– The power play connected three times tonight and still is tops in the AHL.
– Seven different Penguins contributed goals tonight. Only Will O’Neill, Kevin Porter, Dominik Uher, Tom Kostopoulos and Niclas Andersen failed to record a point tonight.
– The Penguins were 6-for-6 on the penalty kill.
– Bears top line was held in check. Chris Bourque and Carter Camper can put up points at will and at a moments notice but didn’t tonight.
– Oh by the way, Matt Murray made 24 saves.
You would think with two NHL caliber goaltenders and guys like Bourque and Camper on your team that you would win a lot more than you lose and put up more of a battle against your biggest rival. I think that the Bears flaws were exposed tonight, in a big, bad way. Their defenders were a total combined -8 this evening.
It was Matt Murray against Dan Ellis.
Scott Wilson – Kael Mouillierat – Conor Sheary
Kevin Porter – Carter Rowney – Dominik Simon
Dominik Uher – Oskar Sundqvist – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Kuhnhackl – J-S Dea – Josh Archibald
Derrick Pouliot – Steve Oleksy
Niclas Andersen – David Warsofsky
Tim Erixon – Will O’Neill
Matt Murray – Tristan Jarry
Scratches were Matia Marcantuoni, Tom Sestito and Barry Goers, all hurt. Marcantuoni and Sestito could be back next week, Goers is shelved three months after having hip surgery. Healthy scratches were Reid McNeill and Tyler Biggs.
First Period: The Penguins went up 1-0 on a power play goal when Conor Sheary centered to Kael Mouillierat in the slot. It wasn’t until 10:50 of the first period that Hershey recorded a shot and were down 7-0 in the category at the time.
Bears started to wake up though but Matt Murray made the save of the night when he slid across to stop a shot that caromed out front to Paul Carey but Dave Warsofsky was in the right place at the right time to keep it out of the net. Bears quickly caught up with the Penguins in the shot category.
Second Period: But as we have seen time and time again in the second period, that is when the Penguins come out determined and accelerate past their opponent. It didn’t take long.
:19 in, Dominik Simon picks a corner in close on Ellis for a 2-0 Penguins lead. I am trying to remember the last Penguin that had a set of hands on him that came close to Simon’s. He has lethal hands on him.
Later, Conor Sheary powered past Bears defenseman Madison Bowey and roofed shot over Ellis for a 3-0 Penguin lead. It was a bad goal to give up for the Bears at the time because the last thing that you wanted to do was chase the game even more against a team like the Penguins.
The second power play goal of the game came when Scott Wilson fired a shot at the net that deflected off of Aaron Ness’ stick and in for a 4-0 Wilkes-Barre lead. That goal chased Dan Ellis and Justin Peters came in relief. I was actually surprised that Peters didn’t get the start in net for Hershey because he has the better numbers.
Peters would stop Dea on a breakaway. Murray would stop a Nathan Walker chance. The Bears settled a bit but the task ahead was steep.
Third Period: The Penguins would break it open when J-S Dea steals a puck in the neutral zone, wheeled around ex-Penguin Zach Sill and go bare down on Peters for a filthy goal and a 5-0 Penguin lead. I had the sense that if Hershey had scored to open the period that the floodgates would open and the game would be closer.
It wasn’t. Oskar Sundqvist would score a late power play goal to make it 6-0. Want to know how good the power play unit is? Sullivan sent out what I thought was the “C” unit for the power play that consisted of Tim Erixon, Dominik Uher, Steve Oleksy, Sundqvist and Dominik Simon.
At 6-0, there was a feeling after the face-off that the Penguins wanted seven. They got it when Tom Kuhnhackl scored at 18:46.
Three Stars: 3) Kael Mouillierat (goal, assist, even) 2) Conor Sheary (goal, three assists, +2) and 1) Matt Murray (24 save shutout)
Some reaction from around the AHL in the form of tweets on this game:
Patrick Williams is one of my idols and covers every angle of this league.
Facts are fun, and color man Nick Hart drops them often.
It isn’t often that you see the Hershey Bears get smacked around like this. In fact,
Look, I don’t get too high when it comes to this franchise. It’s early. It’s November. But I am going to tell you. I cannot find a single weakness with this team right now. Every opponent be it Hartford who was once looking like a solid team or a hated rival like Hershey that comes in and always gives the Penguins fits and always spoils the party is water off of a ducks back. Wilkes-Barre will find your weakness and surgically tear you apart from the inside out. It may not be fun if you are an opponent, but as a Penguin fan that I am, this is fun to watch.
I threw that last one in for fun.
Around the Division: Portland beat Hartford 3-2…Springfield continues to put up a ton of goals as they beat Utica 6-3…Lehigh Valley scored seven goals tonight as well as they punched Rochester in the mouth and won 7-1. The Amerks are in Saturday to face the Penguins…Albany beat Providence 4-2.
Standings: Penguins (.909 points percentage) — Bridgeport (.703) — Hershey (.577) — Springfield (.500) — Portland (.455) — Hartford (.433) — Lehigh Valley (.429) — Providence (.346)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers beat Reading 6-1 at home tonight Patrick McGrath took home first star honors with two goals.
The Pens finish out the home stand against the Rochester Americans Saturday at 7. Gameday for that will be up at 3.
Let’s Go Pens!