Chirps from Center Ice

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

His Glove Has Eyes — Pens LOSE 3-2

BRI         vs.         WBS

2                                              3

In my Rapid Recap tonight, I used a run-on sentence to sum up the play of Bridgeport Sound Tigers starting goaltender Stephon Williams tonight and summed up the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins night as a whole.

A puck left harmlessly in the crease of Williams as the Penguins were pressing for the third goal late may have been another key to the way this one went, a 3-2 loss at the hands of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The Penguins were unable to take over first place in the Atlantic Division with Hershey losing 2-1 to St. John’s earlier in the evening.

Williams was opposed by Tristan Jarry, back from illness.

Lines were…

Kael Mouillierat – Dustin Jeffrey – Josh Archibald
Mattias Plachta – Carter Rowney – Tom Kostopoulos
Ty Loney – J-S Dea – Adam Krause
Jarrett Burton – Oskar Sundqvist – Patrick McGrath

Will O’Neill – Barry Goers
Tim Erixon – Steve Oleksy
Reid McNeill – Niclas Andersen

Tristan Jarry – Franky Palazzese

Lineup Notes: Harrison Ruopp skated the extra in warmups. As eluded to in the lede, Conor Sheary and Dominik Simon were recalled to Pittsburgh an hour and a half before the game in the wake of the news that Evgeni Malkin will miss 6-8 weeks with a wrist upper body injury. In the Simon / Sheary transaction, Tom Sestito was sent back. Coal Street earlier in the day recalled Adam Krause. Krause is the twelfth player from Wheeling that started the season there. Seth mined a gem that the Pens have averaged roughly one new call-up from the ECHL affiliate in West Virginia very five games this season.

First Period: Stephon Williams was quickly introducing himself to the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins and was clearly in revenge mode. The last time that Sound Tigers head coach Brent Thompson put Williams out there to face the Penguins, they put five pucks behind him. Not this time. Williams slides over to stop Josh Archibald one-thing a shot from a Kael Mouillierat setup on a 2-on-1 and then later Ty Loney took a shot from the high slot that Adam Krause got to but Williams got over in time to deny.

Turning point of the game would end up coming 10:52 into the first period when Kane Lafranchise tripped Mattias Plachta then four seconds later Matt Careener took a cross checking penalty and the Penguins were on a 5-on-3 for 1:56. The Penguins could not score. Bridgeport ground through and Williams made stop after stop with his glove.

Then Adam Krause found himself alone in on a breakaway. Not only did Williams stop Krause, he denied the rebound attempt then lost his stick then stopped the puck in his chest.

The Penguins threw 16 shots at Williams and he stopped them all.

Second Period: A dirty goal was going to be the only thing that beat this hot Bridgeport goaltender in Stephon Williams. Who else but Tom Kostopoulous to deliver it on a power play that made it 1-0 in favor of the Penguins:

While the teams were four-on-four, Steve Oleksy blocks an initial shot but the puck caromed right to Colin Markison who had all day and all the space needed to fire one past Jarry that made it 1-1.

Dustin Jeffrey attempted a shot through  heavy screen. Any mortal goaltender is fishing that one out of his net and the Pens are glove tapping to Val Halen’s “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love” in front of a bunch of fans wearing ecto plasma St. Patricks’ Day Penguins themed hats, but not Stephon Williams. He made the glove save like David Wright sees a line drive at third base for the New York Mets.

Third Period: Bridgeport scored to make it 2-1 off a quick developing 2-on-1 that Carter Verhaeghe blew by Jarry. Will O’Neill tossed a shot into traffic that got blocked by Bridgeport which resulted in the odd man rush.

Oh, that Williams guy. His glove had eyes I tell you. A Tim Erixon shot from the point through bodies is gloved by the Bridgeport netminder.

Then the Sound Tigers made it 3-1 on a power play when James Wright takes the shot from the point and Mike Halmo deflects the puck past the five hole of Jarry to make it 3-1. Deflating goal to give up considering the Sound Tigers power play is ranked 29th overall in the AHL and dead last on the road.

Pens couldn’t score on a power play but figured it out and scored on another when Kael Mouillierat ripped a shot off a face-off win just two second into the man advantage that made it 3-2.

Then Carter Rowney was denied of a goal that I celebrated as one from my seat that surely should have gone in but was swept away at the last second that ultimately preserved the win for the Sound Tigers. With Jarry pulled, the Penguins never found the equalizer.

Three Stars: 3) Carter Rowney (two assists, -1) 2) Tom Kostopoulos (goal, -1) and 1) Mike Halmo (goal, assist, +1)

If I was the one picking three stars it would have been 3) Rowney 2) Halmo and 1) Williams 30 saves on 32 shots)

Carter Rowney picked up two assists, giving him nine points (5-4-9) in his last four games. I think he is making a case for AHL Player of the Week. We will see.

Around the Division: You know about the Hershey loss from the lede but let me link that 2-1 loss to the IceCaps here…Lehigh Valley lost in Hartford 4-2…Springfield beat Portland 3-2 in a shootout and Providence continues the home point streak that dates back to December 4 with a 3-2 overtime win against the Toronto Marlies.

Standings: Hershey (.639 percentage points) — Penguins (.631) — Providence (.600) — Bridgeport (.574) — Portland (.568) — Hartford (.533) — Lehigh Valley (.484) — Springfield (.432)

All of a sudden it’s Providence who is snaking up on Hershey and Wilkes-Barre for first or second in the division. The P-Bruins have a game in hand on both the Bears and the Penguins, too.

Wheeling Update: The Nailers won tonight at home against the Kalamazoo Wings by a score of 4-2. Brian Foster stopped 18 of 20, including a penalty shot. Cody Wydo had two goals.

Coal Street infographic and the video highlights…

These two teams rematch Sunday at 5. It’s an hour sooner than you think. Make sure you set your clocks ahead an hour.

Let’s Go Pens!

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