If the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins had gone on to lose this game, the optimist would have said, “eh, we only play them six times this year, maybe it’s a matchup problem. styles make fights, you know!” while the pessimist would have said that the Penguins are a great team that struggle with bad ones and that way to give the AHL a nice blueprint on how to beat the Penguins.
Thankfully, none of that will happen as the Penguins beat the Binghamton Senators by a score of 4-3 in overtime with Derrick Pouliot scoring the game winning goal 3:55 into overtime.
Here’s how this one started. The Penguins were facing a kid by the name of Matt O’Connor, a rookie out of Boston University who is looking for his first AHL win of his career. Wilkes-Barre rolled out Matt Murray who has won every goaltending award imaginable in the AHL in the past year or so. So it was a matchup that heavily favored the Penguins.
4:23 into the game and the Penguins are up 2-0 from goals by Carter Rowney on his own rebound and Kael Mouillierat, his 300th pro point in just a span of 1:10. It was all falling apart for O’Connor, who couldn’t stop a nose bleed if he wanted to.
But then the Penguins just stopped attacking. Travis Ewanyk fights Reid McNeill to fire his side up, later Will O’Neill slashes Cole Schneider on a breakaway and the Binghamton Senators league worst power play strikes when Eric O’Dell one times a puck in past Murray and the Senators have life.
In the second period, the Penguins get some momentum going, but it’s halted on a transition play when Scott Wilson is whistled for holding the stick. Binghamton goes back to the power play and, you guessed it, scores again to tie the game at two a piece. It was Cole Schneider redirecting a Pat Mullen shot from the point past Murray and in for a tie game.
Shots in the second period were 20-3 Wilkes-Barre. It was an exact copy of last Friday where the Penguins were controlling the play and all the chances but could not get anything past the goaltender of the Binghamton Senators. All of a sudden O’Connor, who couldn’t stop a beach ball in the games first five minutes, was into a groove and stopping everything.
The Penguins had a 5-on-3 for :26 that I called a turning point of the game in the second period with the score tied. Binghamton and O’Connor kept the Penguins power play from striking the entire game.
I said before the third period started that it was a game that to this point would look like was being decided on special teams but really shouldn’t be with the way the Penguins were getting the chances but O’Connor just denying chance after chance but the Senators power play did strike twice to make it a 2-2 game.
Interesting sidenote, the Penguins have allowed a grand sum total of nine power play goals this season. The Binghamton Senators account for five of them.
In the third, Dominik Uher couldn’t get all of a perfect Tom Kostopoulos setup that would have made it 3-2. Instead it would be the Senators making it 3-2 when Ryan Dzingel stripped a Penguin and scored on Murray to make it 3-2.
The Penguins would get a power play but not register a single shot on goal. While the face-offs looked improved from last weekend, some were lost in key moments.
Dominik Simon finally cracked O’Connor and the game was tied. Carter Rowney was providing a screen in front and the puck went in.
Wilkes-Barre outshot Binghamton 29-6 in the last to periods. It wasn’t for a lack of effort or offensive chances, O’Connor got into a groove that he didn’t get out of.
In overtime, Matt Murray made three huge saves, two in succession, and Derrick Pouliot ended it a few minutes later:
Three stars were Cole Schneider with a goal, assist and a -1, Dominik Simon with a goal, assist and a +2 and Derrick Pouliot with the game winning goal and a +2 in that order.
Good teams find ways to win. I guess that’s the moral of the story.
Around the Division: Hershey beats Providence 2-1 in overtime…Lehigh Valley gets smoked in Utica 7-1…Albany beat Bridgeport 3-1. Hartford, Portland and Springfield were off.
Standings: Penguins (.875 percentage points) — Bridgeport (.675) — Hershey — (.639) — Springfield (.531) — Hartford (.474) — Portland (.467) — Lehigh Valley (.447) — Providence (.361)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers shutout the Reading Royals at home 1-0. Franky Palazzese had a 28 save shutout and Zack Torquato had the only goal of the game. The Nailers lead the North Division at the Thanksgiving break with 21 points over second place Toledo with 17. The Walleye have two games in hand, though.
Here are highlights of tonight’s game from the B-Sens…
Providence is in on Friday. Gameday for that will hit the blog Friday at 3 p.m.
Have a nice Thanksgiving everyone!