Looking at the standings in this league, I can tell you that there are a lot of bad teams in the American Hockey League.
The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins are not one of them.
Don’t believe me? The Toronto Marlies came into Wilkes-Barre last night as the second best team in the League and needed a shootout to beat the Penguins. They scored three shorthanded goals to even get to the shootout but how often do you see teams in professional hockey give up three shorthanded goals? It doesn’t happen often.
Anyway, that same Marlies team short of AHL points leader William Nylander and short Antoine Bibeau who was recalled to the parent Maple Leafs today rolled into Hershey tonight with Ray Emery in goal, who just signed his PTO an hour and a half before the start of the game Friday and beat the Bears 6-2. Hershey had won seven in a row at home coming in and were bolstered by the addition of Chris Brown who had cleared waivers earlier Saturday.
A 3-0 shutout in Syracuse tonight against a Crunch team decimated by call ups and injuries. Brian Foster, up from Wheeling and forced into the starting goaltender position with the injury to Tristan Jarry earlier this week in Allentown, recorded his first shutout at the AHL level, the Penguins recorded their fourth shutout in five games and the Penguins have not allowed an even strength goal in 305:29.
Again, there are a lot of bad teams in the AHL. The Penguins aren’t one of them.
Foster was opposed by Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Scott Wilson was recalled by Pittsburgh earlier today as a result of Daniel Sprong getting sent back to his junior team, so it was an all hands on deck situation forward wise for the Penguins. Here is a look at the lines:
Josh Archibald – Kael Mouillierat – Bryan Rust
Tom Kuhnhackl – Carter Rowney – Dominik Simon
Dominik Uher – Oskar Sundqvist – Tom Kostopoulos
Sahir Gill – J-S Dea – Ty Loney
Derrick Pouliot – Clark Seymour
Tim Erixon – Will O’Neill
Reid McNeill – Niclas Andersen
Brian Foster – Casey DeSmith
Lineup Notes: With Wilson recalled to Pittsburgh, Josh Archibald was slotted into the top line. The second and third pairs were left untouched and Sahir Gill, making his WBS season debut, took Archibald’s spot in the fourth line. The defense pairing was also untouched.
First Period: Penguins muster not much offense in the period but for this Oskar Sundqvist centering attempt to Tom Kostopoulos that went in:
The Crunch would outshoot Wilkes-Barre 17-3 in the period and go 0-for-2 on the power play, threw everything but the kitchen sink at Foster but were unable to score. It’s the microcosm of the Crunch’s season, really, one that has been crippled by injuries and call ups.
Second Period: Sleepy periods by both teams. Penguins had this would be be power play goal taken away when referee Garrett Rank ruled that the net was knocked free of the moorings before the puck had crossed:
Brian Foster stayed active in net, denying Jeff Tambellini and Philippe Paradis Grade A scoring attempts. The Pens outshot the Crunch 11-6 thanks to an 8-0 headstart to begin the period.
Third Period: Feeling going into the third was that the 1-0 lead was not safe. So what do the Penguins do? Score twice in a span of 1:46.
First, Will O’Neill scored from the blue line when the Crunch turned it over right to him…
Then Carter Rowney with a strong forecheck which forced a turnover which resulted in Tom Kuhnhackl which made it 3-0:
Tampa Bay prospect Anthony DeAngelo is going to have nightmares on the bus to Hershey tonight of Brian Foster. Foster denied him with the pad about halfway into the period…
…then in the dying seconds of the game with Vasilevskiy pulled:
Three Stars: 3) Matthew Peca (no shots, -1) 2) Will O’Neill (goal, +1) and 1) Brian Foster (30 save shutout)
Around the Division: I gave you the Hershey final in the open. The other finals were Hartford beating Utica in a shootout 2-1…Portland beat Bridgeport 2-1…Springfield beat Providence 4-2 and Binghamton beat Lehigh Valley 2-1, speaking of bad teams.
Standings: Penguins (.796 points percentage) — Hershey (.607) — Bridgeport (.583) — Portland (.540) — Providence (.500) — Lehigh Valley (.483) — Springfield .464) — Hartford (.429)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers battled back from a 3-1 deficit to tie the game at three all late but lose 5-3 in Moline, IL against the Quad City Mallards. Riley Brace had a goal and two assists, John McCarron had a goal and an assist. Toledo beat Manchester 2-0 at home tonight to expand their lead on the North Division by 4. The Walleye are in Indy tomorrow.
Pens are now off until December 26 in Hershey against the Bears. I’ll have my chart refreshes Sunday and the Week 11 AHL Power Rankings up Monday.
Let’s Go Pens!