The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins are in free fall mode.
With top scorers on recall to Pittsburgh, a goaltending department rife with question marks about the immediate future of the status of Matt Murray in Wilkes-Barre and line juggling around the dynamic trio of Carter Rowney, Tom Kostopoulos and Sahir Gill, it seems like the Lenguiks can’t get out of their own way when it comes to things.
So the wrong team showed up as the opponent tonight in the second place Hershey Bears.
The Bears beat the Penguins 4-1 and draw dangerously close to dethroning the Penguins for tops in the Atlantic Division.
Tristan Jarry vs. Dan Ellis
Anton Zlobin – Kael Mouillierat – Dominik Simon
Sahir Gill – Carter Rowney – Tom Kostopoulos
Josh Archibald – J-S Dea – Ty Loney
Tom Sestito – Jarrett Burton – Matia Marcantuoni
Reid McNeill – Steve Oleksy
Niclas Andersen – Dave Warsofsky
Tim Erixon – Will O’Neill
Tristan Jarry – Brian Foster
Lineup Notes: Matt Murray was not seen tonight. He was re-assigned Monday and it was expected that he would start but that wasn’t the case. Obie tweeted pregame that he was ill…Matia Marcantuoni was back in the lineup after missing the last 8 games…Patrick McGrath took warmups but was scratched.
First Period: Bears jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead when Nathan Walker snapped a shot through the legs of Steve Oleksy and past the five hole of Jarry for a 1-0 Hershey lead. Penguins couldn’t capitalize on two power plays in the period and couldn’t cash on a nice penalty kill. Carter Rowney had a memorable dash up the ice with a dangle that didn’t pay off. Pens started to match the Bears chances.
Second Period: Pens had to kill a penalty to start the period and the Bears used nice passing to set up Travis Boyd in from to double their lead. Then Reid McNeill hauled down Jakub Vrana and referee Geno Binda awarded a penalty shot. It was a penalty, but a clear penalty shot? I’m not so sure. Regardless, Riley Barber took the penalty shot, snaked in, and well…
After that, the Penguins started to skate with purpose, Carter Rowney picked his corner…
Pens continued to skate with purpose, continued to pressure, Ellis was forced into some saves but Liam O’Brien then took a puck 180′ down the ice, with David Warsofsky in close pursuit, but O’Brien managed to get a backhander off and score to make it 4-1.
Feeling at the time was that the air was let out of the tires a bit. Pressure and make it look like you are going to battle back from two goals down and you are back to three.
Third Period: Bears didn’t let the Penguins get any closer. Pens matches them chance for chance but were trailing three goals. Of note, Sahir Gill left the game with what appeared to be a lower body injury.
Three Stars: 3) Carter Rowney (goal, even) 2) Dan Ellis (26 saves on 27 shots) 1) Riley Barber (goal, assist, +2)
Around th Division: They all watched us.
Standings: Penguins (.651 percentage points) — Hershey (.636) — Portland (.588) — Providence (.577) — Bridgeport (.575) — Hartford (.528) — Lehigh Valley (.500) — Springfield (.433)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off. They host Greenville on Friday.
I’ll post an infographic and any video highlights later if I see them.
Let’s Go Pens!