“A” for effort in this game, a 5-3 Pens loss to the Hershey Bears. A win today would have gotten the Penguins to within one for the Atlantic Division Championship but now the deficit is five with both teams having three games remaining including one in Hershey next Sunday in the regular season finale for both teams.
It was a valiant effort by the Penguins, scoring twice in the third period that tied things, but too many defensive gaffes at the end of the game doomed Wilkes-Barre / Scranton.
I know that some Clark Donatelli haters read the blog. So I offer this next tweet that flies in the face of your theory that he has no idea what he is doing…
The Penguins were into their backups backup backup today as Casey DeSmith was called in and signed to a PTO Sunday morning which ushered in the recall of Tristan Jarry to Pittsburgh. Donatelli didn’t know how long Jarry would be up for but is confident in Foster and DeSmith.
If the Pens would have beat the Bears twice in this situation, it would cast serious doubts in the Bears minds moving forward.
It almost happened.
Justin Peters opposed DeSmith in the other goal.
Kael Mouillierat – Dustin Jeffrey – Dominik Simon
Jake Guentzel – Carter Rowney – Tom Kostopoulos
Mattias Plachta – J-S Dea – Josh Archibald
Adam Krause – Teddy Blueger – Patrick McGrath
Reid McNeill – Niclas Andersen
Tim Erixon – Ethan Prow
Ryan Parent – Will O’Neill
Casey DeSmith – Brian Foster
Lineup Notes: Other than in goal, Kael Mouillierat was back in the lineup after getting sent down Sunday morning and was in for Jarrett Burton.
First Period: Pens lost an offensive zone face-off and the Bears broke up ice on a two on one and Jakub Vrana passed to Ryan Bourque who scored to make it 1-0 Bears.
Pens couldn’t score on two power plays in the period and Justin Peters was dialed into the game, stopping everything coming his way in all forms. Pens were the better team in the period, outshooting the Bears 12-6.
Second Period: Oddest sequence of the season. J-S Dea was finishing off serving a high sticking penalty from the second period and went into the penalty box at the start of the third period without his helmet. The Penguins would kill off the remaining time of the Dea infraction but Dea was not allowed back onto the ice. Why? He didn’t have his helmet with him. Tom explains…
Kostopoulos jumped onto the ice to “replace” Dea but the Penguins were assessed a too many men on the ice penalty as a result. Tom further clarified that Dea’s strap broke in the box as he was already there fastening it to his head right before the period started. Too much time passed to allow Dea to get his helmet replaced and back to him before his penalty expired.
Horribly odd sequence that nearly went the Bears way but the Penguins killed that too many men penalty and another penalty after that to keep the deficit at one thanks to nice stops by DeSmith in goal.
Pens would lose Reid McNeill to injury as he went in for a hit on the far boards and went down holding his knee. He needed assistance of two teammates to get off the ice, putting no pressure on his right leg.
Bears would double the lead on a turnaround shot by Garrett Mitchell that caught DeSmith off guard.
Pens would get on back on a late power play when Kael Mouillierat redirected one in that cut the Bears deficit to one…
Pens got it even for the first time in the period when Dominik Simon raced past everyone and backhanded one in that tied the game at two a piece.
Credit to the Bears, they had an answer for every piece of adversity that occurred in front of them.
1:01 later, Garrett Mitchell scored his second of the game when he scooped a puck off of DeSmith’s pad and flipped it in to give the Bears a 3-2 lead.
Pens would answer on a power play when a puck caroms off of a body right to Carter Rowney who put it in a gaping net that made it 3-3.
(no GIF of this one, sorry)
But the Bears would answer again a little over two minutes later when they beat out an icing call and Chris Bourque connects with Chandler Stephenson that put the Bears ahead for good at 4-3. Bourque would add the empty net goal that iced it away and made it 5-3.
Three Stars: 3) Will O’Neill (three assists, even) 2) Chris Bourque (goal, three assists, +4) 1) Chandler Stephenson (gaol, assist, +3)
Around the Division: Portland beats Hartford 3-2 which punched the Pirates ticket to the postseason….Lehigh Valley continues to play spoiler and beats Bridgeport 4-1…Providence edges Springfield 3-2.
Standings: Hershey (.644 percentage points) — Penguins (.610) — Providence (.610) — Portland (.596) — Bridgeport (.582) — Hartford (.555) — Lehigh Valley (.500) — Springfield (.397)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers are preparing for their first round matchup against the Florida Everblades with Game 1 going off this Friday in Estero, Florida.
Coal Street infographic…
I will update my charts later tonight then have the Week 27 AHL Power Rankings up on the blog Monday at 4.
Midweek, I am probably going to look at the remaining games for the Bears, Bruins, Pens and Sound Tigers to see where these teams could possibly end up seeding wise for the Calder Cup Playoffs and do my best to predict a first round opponent for the Penguins.
Let’s Go Pens!