Chirps from Center Ice

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

Damn, Daniel! — Pens WIN 4-3 (OT)

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Daniel Sprong is a highly touted prospect that was mismanaged in Pittsburgh earlier in the season and sent to his junior team. It’s been an up an down year and no doubt an emotional roller coaster ride for the 19 year old. No idea what is going though is head when his junior team, Charlottetown, is dismissed from the QMJHL playoffs and he heads to Wilkes-Barre and suits up for the Penguins in the span of about 48 hours.

Score goals. Big goals.

Two goals from Sprong, one the overtime game winner, and the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins have a commanding 2-0 series lead over the Providence Bruins in the best of five series as the series shifts to Providence Saturday night with a 4-3 overtime win Thursday night in Wilkes-Barre.

The footnote in the game and the series is going to be what is going on in goal for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins. Casey DeSmith led the team out for warmups and started and won his second straight game. Tristan Jarry was the backup again after initially being pegged to be the Game 2 starter.

You ride the hot hand if you are Clark Donatelli. The worst the Penguins could have done was a 1-1 split heading to Providence. If things fell apart for DeSmith, Jarry is right there.

Lines were…

Kael Mouillierat – Dustin Jeffrey – Dominik Simon
Jake Guentzel – Carter Rowney – Tom Kostopoulos
Mattias Plachta – J-S Dea – Josh Archibald
Tom Sestito – Teddy Blueger – Daniel Sprong

Niclas Andersen – Steve Oleksy
Ryan Parent – Barry Goers
Tim Erixon – Will O’Neill

Casey DeSmith – Tristan Jarry

Lineup Notes: There weren’t any. Patrick McGrath took warmups but was scratched.

First Period: Bad luck bit the Penguins.

They got the first power play of the game early but a Daniel Sprong turnover to Noel Acciari led to this…

…and the Bruins were up 1-0 on another shorthanded goal.

But the Penguins continued to pressure and hit the Bruins forwards at every opportunity. Pens couldn’t do anything with a full power play. It was looking like it was going to be 1-0 Bruins after one but then this happened…

Will O’Neill’s stick snaps in two on a clear and the puck sat there for Chris Casto to collect and score to make it 2-0 Bruins.

Providence just robbed the hen house with the wolf watching. Or something.

Second Period: But then the wolf woke up. And he was angry.

Penguins killed off a carryover 5×3 to start the period. Then they got one back when Tim Erixon unleashed a slapshot from the blue line.

Then Daniel Sprong atoned for his first period turnover and tied the game. Nice centering pass by Kael Mouillierat, Jeremy Smith didn’t know what hit him.

Shots were 8-3 Pens through half way of the second period. Every time Providence touched to puck, there was a Penguin player there ready to lower the boom. I counted one Providence shift where they turned the puck over three times on account of hits by the Penguins.

The offense wasn’t finished. The opposite of what happened last night in overtime happened when Tom Kostopoulos finished off this service by Carter Rowney.

I called it a meat grinder period by Wilkes-Barre with the home team playing the role of butchers and the Bruins playing the role of ground chuck. It was one of the most aggressive periods played by the Penguins all season and arguably the best period played under Clark Donatelli’s tutelage thus far.

Third Period: Providence didn’t take long to even the score at three. Frank Vatrano.

Providence needed to score a dirty goal and got one. Puck may have deflected off of DeSmith’s skate and in but nonetheless, the Bruins showed life.

Pens did a good job of killing a Bruins power play. Hitting picked up. Some borderline illegal, but it’s playoffs.

Nothing was decided. It was off to…

Overtime: DeSmith made a pad stop and the Bruins were hunting to finish the game. Then Nic Anderson took a puck over the glass delay of game penalty. Bruins to the power play with fresh ice. The Penguins appeared to have scored when Kael Mouillierat beat Jeremy Smith to a puck. Mouillierat knocked Smith over and the Penguins scored on the empty net. Referee Keith Kaval initially signaled goal but consulted with the linesmen and trailing referee Kendrick Nicholson and rightly washed the goal out on account of contact with Smith.

The Penguins killed the penalty.

Sprong ended it shortly there after…

That one counted.

The Penguins have played nearly perfect hockey so far this postseason. They have brought it to the Providence Bruins and the Bruins have not responded at all, other than to make the Penguins work that much harder to win. The Penguins have, the Bruins haven’t. The Penguins have all the momentum now. The Bruins are one or two sequences away now from their season being over.

Three Stars: 3) Carter Rowney (assist, -1) 2) Tom Kostopoulos (goal, -1) and 1) Daniel Sprong (two goals, +1)

Video highlights…

The series now shifts to Providence for Game 3 at 7:05. I will probably bring back my postseason charts for Friday with analysis of anything that the data I chart gives me. I may make a blog post out of it. I don’t know yet. Stay tuned.

Bruins in 4? Huh. What idiot said that.

Oh, wait.

Let’s Go Pens!

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