It wasn’t pretty, but it was enough to get the job done.
A 4-3 Penguins win at home tonight over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers who stuck around all game and almost and rightfully maybe, should have won.
Bridgeport did not have a single power play tonight. After a dominating, scoreless first by the Sound Tigers, the Penguins strike twice in the second period to go up 2-0, then see Bridgeport cut the deficit to one three times. The Pens had gone up 3-1 (Bridgeport scored to make it 3-2) then 4-2 and then your 4-3 final.
Call it a test passed by the Penguins. Bridgeport is a very good hockey team that is missing a big break to put them over. Are they elite? No. But I have stressed that in this AHL, there are a few great teams, a handful of good teams and a boat load of bad teams. The Penguins right now are a great team. Bridgeport right now is a good team.
The thing that plays in the favor of the Sound Tigers is that they get two more cracks at the Penguins. Next Friday in Bridgeport then Saturday back at Wilkes-Barre. They are well coached and have good leadership and a crop of promising players.
Casey DeSmith opposed Stephon Williams.
Garrett Wilson – Carter Rowney – Tom Kostopoulos
Kevin Porter – Jake Guentzel – J-S Dea
Thomas DiPauli – Oskar Sundqvist – Josh Archibald
Reid Gardiner – Sahir Gill – Ryan Haggerty
Reid McNeill – Chad Ruhwedel
David Warsofsky – Lukas Bengtsson
Cameron Gaunce – Ethan Prow
Casey DeSmith – Tristan Jarry
Lineup Notes: Dominik Simon is day to day with a lower body injury as told to the WBS media postgame by Head Coach Clark Donatelli. Sahir Gill and Ryan Haggerty were in for the injured Simon and Patrick McGrath. Ethan Prow, who should play every game in my opinion, was in for Stuart Percy, who should also play in my opinion. Percy is nursing an injury, so maybe this is good that he and Prow swap games.
First Period: Casey DeSmith made 13 saves in the period and every single one of them were challenging. A deflection stopped with the pad. A denial in close. More saves on deflection. Pens didn’t register a shot on goal until the nine minute mark and were getting dominated. Wilkes-Barre was lucky to not be down a goal or more heading into the…
Second Period: Penguins scored what appeared to be a good goal five seconds into a power play but referee Guillaume Labonte waved it off immediately on account of an Oskar Sundqvist high stick. The arena showed the replay (I don’t think they are supposed to) and what I saw was a 50/50 call that could have gone either way. Labonte, then gave the Penguins :41 of 5-on-3 but Wilkes-Barre was not able to score.
It was the Sound Tigers that didn’t have a shot on goal for a long stretch of the period. Oskar Sundqvist finally scored a goal that counted when he punched one through the pads of Williams. Sundqvist is now tied for the team lead in goals (6) with Jake Guentzel.
Pens doubled their lead on a nice keep in by Lukas Bengtsson who chipped it back to Garrett Wilson who found Kevin Porter in front who was denied initially but collected his own rebound and scored. Bengtsson collected the secondary assist on the goal, his first North American point.
Bridgeport responded. They started with a naked two on one, then scored when Bracken Kearns scored to cut it to one. DeSmith made one acrobatic save but could not make a second an the Sound Tigers were on the board.
Two minutes and ten seconds later, J-S Dea scored on a deflection in front that re-established the two goal lead for Wilkes-Barre / Scranton.
But the Sound Tigers would score with 26.5 seconds left when Andrew Rowe sweeps in a puck that popped over DeSmith and cut it back to one.
Bridgeport coasted for 13 minutes, got scored on twice and came back and scored two.
Third Period: Garrett Wilson pushed Pat Cullity into Stephon Williams as Williams came out to play a puck cycling around his net. Williams fell down. Tom Kostopoulos scored the easiest goal in his life that made it 4-2 Penguins.
Penguins outshot the Sound Tigers 10-7 in the period and were looking like they were going to cruise to a win. Not so fast, my friend. Josh Winquist scores a tap in back door goal at 14:55 that made it a one goal game again.
But with Williams off with time dwindling his team was never able to find the equalizer.
Three Stars: 3) Jon Landry (two assists, +2) 2) J-S Dea (goal, +1) and 1) Carter Rowney (goal, assist, +1)
It’s the first time all season that an opponent scores more than one goal on Casey DeSmith.
Around the Division: Hershey beats Syracuse 5-1. Bears may be a bit understaffed tomorrow against the Penguins. They may end up seeing players get called up to Washington and may be dealing with a rash of injuries. Utica beats Springfield 5-4 in overtime. Strange game here. Darren Archibald scored in overtime on a goal which was not initially rewarded….Lehigh Valley scores two in the third period to tie it then one in overtime to win it against the Providence Bruins. 4-3 the final there and the Phantoms have won eight straight. Hartford was off.
Standings: Penguins (.767 percentage points) — Lehigh Valley (.750) — Hershey (.633) — Bridgeport (.615) — Springfield (.567) — Providence (.429) — Hartford (.357)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers were smoked by the Indy Fuel 6-1. Christian Hilbrich scored the only goal for the Nailers. Doug Carr took the loss, stopping 24 of 30.
Pens travel to Hershey for a 7:00 date with the Bears. Gameday setup for the blog will be here at 3 p.m.
Let’s Go Pens!