You have the best car in the employee parking lot. Everyone from accounting down to the mail room is talking about your new wheels. You are the talk of the office, the envy of your co-workers. Everything is great until you go to step into the car and it won’t start.
Why won’t it start? Well, for one thing, you forgot to put gas in the tank and it won’t turn over. Even if it will turn over, the oil hasn’t been changed in over 10,000 miles and so the internal parts won’t turn anymore. Oh, and two of the four tires are flat.
So all you are left with is a hunk of something that looks good, but when you ask that something to execute, you are disappointed.
That, in a nutshell, is what happened tonight at the Penguins game, a 3-1 loss to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms for the first loss on home ice this season and the third overall this season.
Going 0-for-6 on a power play is enough most nights to make teams lose when the battle is special teams. That is what the fourth ranked Penguins power play went for tonight against the Phantoms 27th ranked penalty kill.
Matt Murray opposed Anthony Stolarz.
Scott Wilson – Kael Mouillierat – Conor Sheary
Dominik Simon – Kevin Porter – Bryan Rust
Dominik Uher – Oskar Sundqvist – Tom Kostopoulos
Josh Archibald – J-S Dea – Carter Rowney
Derrick Pouliot – Steve Oleksy
Tim Erixon – Will O’Neill
Reid McNeill – Niclas Andersen
Matt Murray – Tristan Jarry
Tyler Biggs skated the extra. With Tom Sestito out with injury, Bryan Rust replaced Carter Rowney on the second line who replaced Sestito on the fourth.
First Period: Felt like a jagged start with face-off, stoppage, face-off, stoppage for the first two and a half minutes. Finally, Conor Sheary worked a puck from behind Stolarz’s net and whacked one in for a 1-0 Penguins lead early on.
It is usually rare that you get a games turning point within the first ten minutes of a game but the Penguins, when they came up empty on two consecutive power plays, set the tone for the Phantoms that they had at least something that can stop the Penguins on the man advantage. Wilkes-Barre came close a couple times with J-S Dea loudly ringing the post on a power play, but never scored another goal for the remainder of the contest.
Second Period: Anthony Stolarz is a 6’6 goaltender and a really good one at that. His numbers match those of Matt Murray’s but you rarely hear anything about him because of what Murray has accomplished with all of his awards. He was tremendous tonight for Lehigh Valley. The Penguins had a power play within the first five minutes in the second period and looked to have scored but Stolarz kept the Penguins from doubling the lead at the time.
Lehigh Valley hadn’t been on a power play advantage at all to this point. The Penguins top five power play hadn’t scored in three prior attempts. The Phantoms were about to go on one when Kael Mouillierat roughed Danick Martel near the benches. You guessed it! The Phantoms would score on the power play. Somehow the Penguins let Aaron Palushaj get about a fifteen foot headstart from his own blue line and score unabated on Murray to even things at a goal a piece.
The Penguins were on tilt at this point. Looked disjointed and frustrated. After referee David Banfield lost control of a situation where Conor Sheary gets bulldozed by Palushaj right in front of him in the neutral zone and after the eventual four on four that ensued, Mark Alt received a cross ice pass from the near wall and wasted no time in putting his team ahead 2-1.
Third Period: Both teams trade early power plays but come up empty. Penguins try a Steve Oleksy shot pass to the tape of Conor Sheary for a deflection type shot on Stolarz but he makes the save. Later, all types of shots from all different angles and he closes the door yet again.
Finally with 1:59 left in regulation, Davis Drewskie puts a puck into the stands from his own end and the Penguins head to a power play. Coach Mike Sullivan calls his time out, draws something up, thirty seconds later Matt Murray heads to the bench, but the Penguins salt away the game with a 180′ empty net goal scored by Taylor Leier which will also go down as a short handed goal against the Penguins.
What’s the old saying? When it rains, it pours?
The streak dies at 11 games. No other AHL team had been undefeated at home until tonight.
Three Stars: 3) Conor Sheary (goal, +1) 2) Mark Alt (game winning goal, +1) and 1) Anthony Stolarz (35 saves on 36 shots)
Around the Division: Bridgeport is shutout again, this time to the Springfield Falcons by a score of 4-0…Providence beats Portland 3-2 in overtime…Hartford downs Hershey 4-3 in a shootout.
Standings: Penguins (.842 percentage points) — Bridgeport (.630) — Hershey (.595) — Springfield (.525) — Lehigh Valley (.500) — Hartford (.455) — Portland (.447) — Providence (.405)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers hosted the South Carolina Stingrays tonight at Wesbanco Arena and won 3-2. Brian Foster stopped 38 of 40 shots. Zack Torquato picked up first start honors with a goal and an assist. The Nailers rematch against the Stingrays tomorrow night.
Here is the infographic. If they Penguins put up video highlights and I can edit them in, I’ll do so.
Penguins host the Hartford WolfPack tomorrow at 7:05. Gameday for this will be up Saturday afternoon at 3.
Let’s Go Pens!!!