First impressions are lasting ones. It’s an old saying. In an important weekend for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins with the Hershey Bears dangerously breathing down the necks of the Penguins, a strong start to a five game road trip beginning with a three in three starting in Portland, Maine was key to keeping the Penguins at the top of the Atlantic Division.
It took a shootout this time, but the five game losing streak is over. The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins defeat the Portland Pirates by a score of 3-2 in a shootout.
It was Matt Murray vs. Mike McKenna in goal in what turned out to be a classic battle between an old lion in McKenna and a young lion in Murray.
Lots of video highlights in this one again as I am working on my terrible video edit skills. So please, jump through if you didn’t link in direct.
Anton Zlobin – Carter Rowney – Tom Kostopoulos
Derek Army – Kael Mouillierat – Dominik Simon
Josh Archibald – Oskar Sundqvist – J-S Dea
Tom Sestito – Matia Marcantuoni – Ty Loney
Reid McNeill – Steve Oleksy
Niclas Andersen – David Warsofsky
Tim Erixon – Will O’Neill
Matt Murray – Tristan Jarry
Lineup Notes: Extremely smart moves by Clark Donatelli pairing Dea and Archibald with the newly re-assigned Oskar Sundqvist. Between both Dea and Archibald, they only have two assists each coming into this weekend…Also smart move by Donatelli putting Rowney and Kostopoulos up with Anton Zlobin on the top line. Zlobin has been a hot hand of late.
Scratches were Harrison Ruopp, John McCarron, Jarrett Burton, Patrick McGrath, Clark Seymour & Ryan Parent on the healthy side and Tyler Biggs (again, taking a page out of the Beau Bennett book) Sahir Gill, Dominik Uher and Barry Goers.
First Period: The thing about these two teams is that they are so evenly matched and the matches run deep. There was no score in the period but each team met the other chance for chance. The Penguins were unsuccessful on the games only power play, and Ty Loney fought Mackenzie Weegar after Loney laid a big hit on John McFarland. Shots were 14-8 Penguins heading into the….
Second Period: It was developing into a classic goaltenders duel between Matt Murray and Mike McKenna. Someone needed to make a play. To this point, it was the fourth line that was the best line for the Penguins. They were pounding pucks deep and generating chances but it was Mike McKenna stealing the show. In a penalty killing situation, the Pirates goaltender bailed his team out a few times shorthanded. Wilkes-Barre was doing everything they could to score but McKenna was dialed in. The only thing I was noticing on the AHL Live feed was he was spraying rebounds all over the place.
Finally, McKenna made a mistake:
That was Dominik Simon that pounded that rebound home for a 1-0 Wilkes-Barre lead.
Prior to that, Tom Sestito and Tony Turgeon had a spirited bout:
Pens found themselves in penalty trouble late in the second which spilled into the start of the….
Third Period: The biggest problem crippling the Penguins in the five game losing streak was holding onto a lead. So what does Portland do to the Penguins? Score :42 into another 5-on-3 when this low angle shot by Connor Brickley found the space behind Murray.
Pens had a power play but weren’t able to cash on that or any man advantage the whole night. Rocco Grimaldi was sprung from the box and did this…
That goal by Brickley stalled an 0-for-36 on the power play for the Pirates.
Quickly, Kael Mouillierat tied it again on a redirection in front of McKenna at it was level at 2-2. Dominik Simon picked up an assist here giving him his eighth multipoint game.
This is how good McKenna and Murray were in this game. McKenna gets beat on a rebound left and a re-direct in front. Murray beat on a low angle and a breakaway. Tell me right now that you wouldn’t sign up right now for a playoff series between these two teams. Springtime in Portland? I’ll go, if you drive…I’m not interested in a seven hour drive through New England to get to Southeastern Maine.
Anyway, the game settled back into the first two periods with teams trading chances. The Penguins fourth line, arguably the most dynamic line for Wilkes-Barre / Scranton, nearly scored in this sequence:
Matt Murray was pressed into this big save on John McFarland late in a 2-2 contest…
Clark Donatelli called time out after the Penguins iced the puck three times late. Portland was really bearing down….
…but it was onto…
Overtime: J-S Dea hit a post. Portland buzzed at the end…
But it was onto the…
Shootout: How good am I getting at this video recap thing? You be the judge:
These videos are amateurish and bad. I should stop. Go ahead and use the comment section to tell me to stop. If not, I am going to keep going.
Three Stars: 3) Connor Brickley (goal, assist, +1) 2) Mike McKenna (38 saves on 40 shots) 1) Kael Mouillierat (goal, assist, +2, shootout game winning goal)
Around the Division: The Hershey Bears hand the Toronto Marlies their tenth regulation loss of the season. Ten. The Marlies have ten losses this season in regulation. Ten times Toronto has played a game and not come away with any points. It’s the end of February and the Hershey Bears made sure that the Marlies fans went home sad for the tenth time this season, albeit we are hours away from the beginning of the month of March….5-2 was the final….Springfield beats Albany 4-3 in a shootout tonight at home….Lehigh Valley loses in a shootout 3-2 to Hartford and Providence pounds Bridgeport 6-2.
Standings: Penguins (.657 percentage points) — Hershey (.643) — Portland (.594) — Providence (.585) — Bridgeport (.565) — Hartford (.527) — Lehigh Valley (.500) — Springfield (.443)
Wheeling Update: With half of their players on recall to Wilkes-Barre, the Wheeling Nailers continue to defy odds and win games, They defeated the Greenville Swamp Rabbits by a score of 5-1. Brian Foster stopped 27 of 28 shots. Riley Brace, Matthew Maione and Chris Ciotti all had a goal and an assist each in the contest.
If I see an infographic and am nearby a computer I will edit in an infographic. If not, the Gameday setup for the next game on this five game road trip, a Saturday night tilt against the Springfield Falcons, will be up on the blog at 3 p.m.
Let’s Go Pens!!!