Chirps from Center Ice

A fan blog about the AHL's Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins

Crunched, Again — Pens LOSE 4-2

SYR          @          NOR

2                                              4

The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins had won seven straight games coming into Saturday night in Syracuse and were the toast of the Atlantic Division and held the current longest winning streak in the American Hockey League.

No one in a Syracuse Crunch jersey was impressed or cared enough to notice.

Playing from behind didn’t seem to matter midweek in St. John’s but it finally caught up to the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins on Saturday as they lose 4-2 in Syracuse against the Crunch. The last team to beat the Penguins before the streak beat them again. Thankfully for the Penguins, this is the last regular season meeting between the two teams.

Matt Murray vs. Adam Wilcox

Lines were…

Scott Wilson – Kael Mouillierat – Dominik Simon
Josh Archibald – Carter Rowney – J-S Dea
Dominik Uher – Sahir Gill – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Sestito – Matia Marcantuoni – Ty Loney

Derrick Pouliot – Steve Oleksy
Reid McNeill – Niclas Andersen
Will O’Neill – Harrison Ruopp

Matt Murray – Tristan Jarry

Lineup Notes: Conor Sheary was recalled to Pittsburgh Friday in the wake of the Nick Bonino injury….Dominik Simon jumped up to the top line wing spot in place of Sheary….Dea took Simon’s spot on the second line wing….Matia Marcantuoni centered Loney and Sestito on the fourth line. On defense, Ruopp was in for Clark Seymour. No Oskar Sundqvist again who was with the team but technically a healthy scratch.

First Period: Physical period. Nearly every stoppage led to pushing and shoving. The Penguins found themselves on a double minor penalty kill when Derrick Pouliot was called for hooking, didn’t like the call from referee Keith Kaval, and was assessed an unsportsmanlike penalty for disputing the call. The Crunch scored twice on both ends of the power play and were up 2-0. Adam Erne scored his third goal of the season against the Penguins with a tip-in then Tye McGinn then stuffed the second Crunch goal past the pad of Murray that doubled the Crunch lead.

Here are the goals, that occurred :49 apart…

Penguins got one back when Steve Oleksy lowered the boom on Philippe Paradis with a big hit. Dominik Simon picked up the puck, dished to Josh Archibald who zipped the puck past Wilcox and in which brought the Penguins to within one…

Then in the final minute, Kael Mouillierat tried to force a pass deep into the Penguins offensive zone which caught the Penguins defensive corps deep and the Crunch capitalized.

Matt Peca set up Mike Blunden on the two on one and the Crunch were able to bring a two goal lead into the…

Second Period: Wilkes-Barre took three penalties in the period and trailing by two goals is never a recipe to mount a comeback. However, the Penguins were able to generate a lot of shorthanded chances and actually outshot the Crunch 10-6 in the period despite being on the penalty kill three separate times in the period. No scoring in the period, but the trailing Penguins started to pick the pace up on the Crunch heading into the…

Third Period: J-S Dea cashed on a Carter Rowney shot and a rebound that brought the Penguins within one on the power play…

The Penguins were on the come seemingly all period, but Wilcox was more than up to the challenge, in this instance stoning Sahir Gill in close then later robbing Kael Mouillierat on a Penguin power play. But the penalties and undisciplined play by the Penguins handcuffed them, as they kept taking penalties.

With Murray off, Wilcox continued to make big stops on Penguins furious rushes and chances. Wilkes-Barre weren’t able to find the equalizer and Tanner Richard hit an empty net to seal it.

Three Stars: 3) Mike Blunden (goal, assist, +2) 2) Matthew Peca (assist, +1) and 1) Adam Wilcox (25 saves on 27 shots)

Around the Division: Hershey beats Springfield in a shootout 4-3….Portland continues their tear and sweep Bridgeport at home 3-1 tonight and Hartford beat Lehigh Valley 2-1. Providence was off.

Standings: Penguins (.750 percentage points) — Portland (.625) — Hershey (.600) — Providence (.526) — Bridgeport (.526) — Hartford (.487) — Lehigh Valley (.451) — Springfield (.421)

Wheeling Update: Nailers fall 4-3 to the Toledo Walleye in Ohio tonight. Anton Zlobin had a goal and an assist and was a +1 and extended his point streak to 7 games.

Pens now have a week to regroup and prepare themselves for what is brewing as a big, big test in Portland against the second place Pirates next Friday and Saturday.

I’ll have my big board chart refresh on the blog sometime Sunday afternoon and the Week 15 AHL Power Rankings on a special time on Martin Luther King Day, at noon Monday. Check them out then.

Let’s Go Pens!

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