Look, I don’t care that the Lehigh Valley Phantoms are out of playoff spot. The Penguins and Phantoms slugged it out for 40+ minutes in a knock down, drag out goaltending duel for the ages.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms are trending upwards and have won six of their last seven games coming in to tonight contest. They shutout the Penguins the last time these two teams met with a goaltender up from the ECHL who posted a dazzling 40 save performance.
But on this night, it was the Penguins own ECHL goaltender that preserved the win and Jake Guentzel that scored a gritty, go ahead goal in the third period that propels the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins to second in the division with a 2-1 win over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Friday night.
It was the aforementioned Casey DeSmith vs. AHL All-Star Anthony Stolarz.
Kael Mouillierat – Dustin Jeffrey – Adam Krause
Jake Guentzel – Carter Rowney – Tom Kostopoulos
Mattias Plachta – J-S Dea – Dominik Simon
Tyler Biggs – Teddy Blueger – Josh Archibald
Niclas Andersen – Steve Olesky
Tim Erixon – Ethan Prow
Will O’Neill – Barry Goers
Casey DeSmith – Sean Maguire
Lineup Notes: Barry Goers, Steve Oleksy and Tyler Biggs all returned to the lineup for the Penguins tonight. Brian Foster was sent to the Wheeling Nailers earlier in the day. Harrison Ruopp, Jarrett Burton, Patrick McGrath and Ryan Parent were the healthy scratches for the Penguins this evening.
First Period: Phantoms would jump out of the gates first when Lehigh Valley won an offensive zone face-off to Robert Hagg who wired it over DeSmith’s shoulder for a 1-0 Phantoms lead.
About two minutes later the Penguins would tie it on the shot by Will O’Neill and the deflection of J-S Dea…
Some milestones on that assist by Will O’Neill…
Then both goaltenders started making saves. DeSmith with a lunging save on Petr Straka and then denying Nicholas Aube-Kubel on a two-on-one rush.
Tyler Biggs had some drives to the net but Stolarz made the save.
Second Period: Was becoming the Anthony Stolarz and Casey DeSmith Show.
Stolarz was under bombardment early, denying Jake Guentzel off a nice feed from Tom Kostopoulos that kept it 1-1.
Stolarz would makes more saves with some saves on Ethan Prow in the high slot, then flicked out a pad on Adam Krause again and then again on Steve Oleksy. Barry Goers rang a post behind Stolarz.
Wilkes-Barre was looking for a dirty goal on the Phantoms netminder, throwing pucks at his feet and at his doorstep but he turned away all 14 shots sent his way in the period by the Penguins.
Casey DeSmith denied all seven shots sent his way.
Third Period: Stolarz made some more ridiculous saves, this time on his back, denying Dominik Simon on his back that kept the game tied at one a piece.
Pens were pressuring the Phantoms with everything. It was going to take a dirty or a deflection goal that was going to beat Stolarz.
So who better than the rookie, Jake Guentzel, with this deflection goal of a Carter Rowney shot that put the Pens ahead 2-1…
Seth dropped this in after the goal…
Teams traded power plays but neither took advantage. With Stolarz pulled for the extra attacker, the Phantoms never found the equalizer.
Three Stars: 3) Casey DeSmith (26 saves on 27 shots) 2_ Anthony Stolarz (40 saves on 42 shots) and 1) Jake Guentzel (game winning goal, even)
Around the Division: Hershey could have sewed up the Atlantic Division title tonight with the mess that is the Binghamton Senators. They didn’t. The B-Sens beat the Bears 4-2 up on the Southern Tier that keeps the door open for the Penguins or Bruins to slip in and take the Atlantic Division title….Hartford beats St. John’s 4-1 on The Rock to preserve their dim playoff chances, but those chances were extinguished for good as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers get a late goal by Bracken Kearns to beat the Portland Pirates up in Maine 3-2 that locks in the Eastern Conference playoff teams as the Sound Tigers are the last team to qualify. Springfield and Providence were idle.
Standings: Hershey (.635 percentage points) — Penguins (.615) — Providence (.615) — Portland (.588) — Bridgeport (.588) — Hartford (.567) — Lehigh Valley (.493) — Springfield (.392)
Wheeling Update: The Wheeling Nailers take Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Kelly Cup Semifinals over the Florida Everblades by a 6-3 score. Cody Wydo had a goal and three assists for first star honors. Andrew Ammon scored twice. Game 2 is tomorrow in Florida.
Wilkes-Barre closes out the regular season home schedule against a rested and hungry Providence Bruins team that will be gunning for home ice of their own. Gameday setup hits the blog Saturday at 3.
Let’s Go Pens!