Kind of had the feeling when it was announced after yesterday’s 4-1 win against Springfield that Matt Murray would not make the trip to Hartford, Connecticut for Sunday afternoon’s game that Casey Desmith would get the start over Brian Foster.
Foster has been anything but a question mark in net for the Penguins at the AHL level, so with Matt Murray back from Pittsburgh and the status of Tristan Jarry getting closer and closer to a return, with the benefit of a cushion at the top of the Atlantic Division standings, Head Coach Clark Donatelli penciled in Casey Desmith’s name as the starting goaltender this afternoon.
The plan worked.
A 22 save performance for the undrafted Desmith, who wins in his AHL debut 3-2 and the Penguins have their first AHL winning streak under Donatelli.
It was the aforementioned Casey Desmith vs. Magnus Hellberg
No lineup changes for the Penguins this afternoon in Hartford, the only change being Desmith making his first AHL start.
First Period: Nothing really doing early on with the teams trading chances back and forth. The Penguins easily killed a Hartford power play and out shot the Wolf Pack 13-5 in the period. What Hartford did generate in chances were few and far between but quality overall.
With 8.8 seconds left in the period, Dominik Simon did this…
It was Simon’s team leading 29th point for the Penguins.
Second Period: Penguins would get two quick goals in the first minute of the period kicked off by this rocket of a shot by J-S Dea…
Exactly 15 seconds later and off of the ensuing face-off, the Penguins would score again…
Bryan Rust would get credit when he banked the puck off of a prostrated Tommy Hughes.
The Wolf Pack called time out after that goal.
Then there were some penalties which ended up being a long overlapping power play for Hartford. They managed one shot on goal at Desmith and the rest of the time the Penguins just cleared everything and had a bunch of shorthanded rushes.
There are two automatic goal scorers that I know of that whenever they play the Penguins, you can pencil them in for a goal against Wilkes-Barre. One is defenseman Erik Burgdoerfer in Hershey and the other is Nick Tarnasky on the Hartford Wolf Pack. Tarnasky softly swept this puck past Desmith that spoiled the would be shutout and got Hartford on the board…
Desmith looked settled in as the game wore on and made some big saves. The game starting to unfold into another methodical Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins game. That is, get a lead, sit on it, try to build on it and give the opponent nothing. An example of this was about three or four face-offs in the Penguins offensive zone that they won and just fired pucks at Hellberg.
Third Period: Physicality picked up and all ends of the ice were being used. The Wolf Pack would outshoot the Penguins 9-6 in this period and with Hellberg pulled, Chad Nehring would score with 6.1 seconds left in the game that made it 3-2 but there wasn’t enough time for the Wolf Pack to get the equalizer and the Penguins would hold on.
Desmith is probably packing his bags for Wheeling this week no matter what happens with Jarry this week just because, but I think that he has definitely earned a second look with another AHL team, whether that’s Wilkes-Barre or some other team. If not, he should definitely get some more starts in the ECHL.
Three Stars: 3) Nick Tarnasky (goal, -1) 2) Bryan Rust (goal, +1) and 1) J-S Dea (goal, +2)
Around the Division: Hershey blanks Bridgeport on the road by a score of 5-0. Dan Ellis had a 32 save shutout…Lehigh Valley beat Portland in Maine by a score of 2-1 and Providence beat Rochester 5-2.
Standings: Penguins (.734 percentage points) — Hershey (.600) — Portland (.578) — Bridgeport (.578) — Lehigh Valley (.514) — Providence (.471) — Hartford (.441) — Springfield (.424)
Here is the post game infographic from the Penguins…
Wheeling Update: The Nailers lost at home to the Norfolk Admirals by a score of 5-3. Anton Zlobin had two goals and an assist.
My Week 13 AHL Power Rankings return to their normal 4 p.m. Monday release time. I’ll also have a refresh of the big board sometime Sunday evening also.
Penguins are back on the ice on Tuesday for a date with the Binghamton Senators in Wilkes-Barre at 7:05.
Let’s Go Pens!