It’s the case of two teams passing each other going in different directions. The Utica Comets came into this game having lost four in a row (0-3-1) and the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins came into the game having won four in a row.
No one turned around to say hello tonight, as the losing streak continues for the Comets and the winning streak rolls on for the Penguins after a 4-2 win Saturday night at home.
Credit Utica for playing an equal style of hockey with the Penguins all night. Physical, in your face all night long that would knock another team off it’s game if that team wasn’t the Penguins who do the same thing night after night after night. The game was really decided via the power play, with the Penguins striking twice.
Tristan Jarry opposed Joe Cannata tonight. It was Jarry’s first appearance for the Penguins since December 16.
Scott Wilson – Kael Mouillierat – Conor Sheary
Josh Archibald – Carter Rowney – Dominik Simon
Dominik Uher – Sahir Gill – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Sestito – J-S Dea – Ty Loney
Derrick Pouliot – Steve Oleksy
Reid McNeill – Niclas Andersen
Will O’Neill – Adam Clendening
Tristan Jarry – Matt Murray
Changes Since Last Night: Kael Mouillierat and Tom Sestito were back from injury. Mouillierat missed about two weeks (December 27) and Tom Sestito missed about a month and a half (November 28) – the Penguins went back to the standard 12 forwards, 6 defensemen. Tim Erixon was scratched on defense. John McCarron skated the extra in warmups. Mouillierat was up with Wilson and Sheary on the top line, the second and third lines were untouched, J-S Dea centered Sestito and Loney. Oskar Sundqvist missed his second game due to illness.
First Period: Both teams opened with early, quality chances which were stopped by the goaltenders. Teams then settled in then the Penguins were off on a power play. Pens cycled the puck around and Tom Kostopoulos finished this feed from Conor Sheary…
Kostopoulos became the third Penguins to reach double digits in goals this season, joining Dominik Simon (12) and Scott Wilson (16)
Utica responded with a long offensive shift. Hitting picked up a bit. Then, with 5 seconds left, Will O’Neill found the back of the net to double the Wilkes-Barre lead.
Had to think that was a bit of a crushing blow to the Comets, who were building something that may have resulted in a tie game, but they never did and trailed by two heading into the…
Second Period: If you weren’t aware of the hitting that went on in the first period, you started to notice it in the second period. Nearly every puck put deep or whistle blown led to bodies getting smashed into other bodies or into the wall. Then, late, the Penguins find themselves having to kill 1:27 of 5-on-3 time. With four seconds to go in the period, Hunter Shinkaruk scored to give the Comets life and it was a 2-1 game all of a sudden. The goal ended Tristan Jarry’s shutout streak at 183:59.
So how the Penguins responded going into the third period would be key.
Third Period: Penguins miss on the first power play given in the third period but not the second as Scott Wilson would score to give the Pens some breathing room and make it a 3-1 game. Conor Sheary won a face-off back to Derrick Pouliot who passed to Wilson who one -timed it home for the goal.
Tristan Jarry came up big for the Penguins as Utica was pressing. But with Cannata pulled, Alex Friesen scored with 1:45 left to bring the Comets to within one again. This was the first even strength goal allowed by Tristan Jarry since October 28.
Scott Wilson though iced the game away with an empty net goal with seconds left and the Penguins held on.
Three Stars: 3) Jordan Subban (two assists, even) 2) Conor Sheary (three assists, +1) and 1) Scott Wilson (two goals, assist, even)
Scott Wilson became the AHL league leader in goals scored tonight with 17 and 18.
Around the Division: The Portland Pirates are all the way up to second place in the division and are 8-2 in their last ten games after beating St. John’s 4-1 tonight in Newfoundland….Hartford beats Bridgeport at home 5-4….Albany beat Lehigh Valley 4-2….Providence beats Springfield 4-2….Syracuse beats Hershey 4-2.
Standings: (Penguins .757 percentage points) — Portland (.603) — Hershey (.568) — Bridgeport (.539) — Providence (.500) — Lehigh Valley (.487) — Hartford (.444) — Springfield (.429)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers lost 6-3 to the Orlando Solar Bears. Brian Foster took the loss. Matia Marcantuoni had a goal.
Here is the post game infographic….
And the video highlights…
The Penguins travel tomorrow to St. John’s for the first of two starting Tuesday. The game is 7:30 Newfoundland time, which is a 6:00 start in Wilkes-Barre.
I’ll have the charts updated on the page Sunday sometime and the Week 14 AHL Power Rankings on the blog Monday at 4. Look for the Hall of Fame Announcement to come sometime Monday as well. When that happens, I will have a blog about the two newest enshrinees.
Let’s Go Pens!