The Providence Bruins and the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins better get used to one another. They will be seeing a lot of one another in the coming weeks.
That is because with a Hershey Bears win over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms tonight, the Bears win the Atlantic Division and the Providence Bruins and Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins are playing for second place and home ice in their five game series which should begin next weekend.
So tonight, a 3-1 Bruins win, was a playoff preview.
Long and short of things, this was a competitive game that the Penguins were in until the very end. The issue that doomed the Penguins besides the fact that they faced a well coached team with its full compliment of players was the 0-f0r-6 on the power play. The Penguins could not score on the power play tonight in a close game and it cost them. How many times is that said, seen or heard in these types of games?
So tomorrow decides home ice. Pens are in Hershey facing a Bears team with nothing left to play for in their final game of the regular season as division champions and the Providence Bruins head to Bridgeport where the Sound Tigers are still jockeying for playoff positioning. Here is how the scenarios can play out on the AHL’s final day of the regular season:
For this game, Casey DeSmith opposed Jeremy Smith. No lineup changes were made for the Pens but for Harrison Ruopp in for Etahn Prow on defense.
Pens had their awards pregame, here is who went home with what:
First Period: Providence jumped out early and took control but it was Casey DeSmith that made a diving save to keep the Pens in it and the game goalless. Pens had a power play that they couldn’t score on but had many looks. Then, Jake Genteel led Carter Rowney up ice on a two on one and Rowney finished to give the Pens a 1-0 lead…
Every whistle was met with pushing and shoving. The Penguins were the more physical team on the ice and it was frustrating the Bruins.
Shots at the end of one were 20-9 Penguins. Wilkes-Barre subtly dominated the period.
Second Period: But with a lineup full of starts like Austin Czarina, Alex Khokhlachev and Frank Vatrano, in a one goal game, that isn’t enough.
Through two consecutive power plays, the Pens only had one shot on the board.
Finally the Bruins were moving their skates to a point to where they forced a Penguin power play. It did not take long for Providence to finally break through and score on their first power play of the season against the Penguins. Austin Czarink scored on the far dot off of a one timer and it was a tie game.
DeSmith came up big denying Co-Rookie of the Year Frank Vatrano on a breakaway.
It was 1-1 going into the third. Tom had this observation…
And this was a period where it was 10-3 in shots favoring the Bruins.
Third Period: Czarnik again. Quick transitioning play and it was 2-1 Bruins.
Pens had two more chances to score on the power play in the period but couldn’t. With DeSmith eventually pulled for the extra man, the Penguins never found the equalizer.
I tweeted this with 18.2 seconds left…
What a jinx I am.
Three Stars: 3) Alex Khokhlachev (two assists, +1) 2) Carter Rowney (goal, -1) 1) Austin Czarnik (two goals, +1)
Around the Division: Hershey beats Lehigh Valley 4-2 to lock up the Atlantic Division Championship…Bridgeport loses in Albany 3-0 in a game that had 280 penalty minutes. No, that’s right, two hundred and eighty penalty minutes….Hartford loses in St. John’s 2-1…Springfield beats Portland in overtime 3-2.
Standings: Hershey (.640 points percentage) — Providence (.620) — Penguins (.607) — Portland (.587) — Bridgeport (.580) — Hartford (.559) — Lehigh Valley (.487) — Springfield (.400)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers lost 4-1 in Game 2 of the Kelly Cup Semifinals to the Florida Everblades that ties the series 1-1. The series shifts to Wheeling April 20. Anton Zlobin had the goal for the Nailers in the loss.
Pens and Bears go off Sunday at 5. Gameday setup for that hits the blog Sunday at 1.
Let’s Go Pens!