It has been one year since Clark Donatelli took the reigns as head coach of the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins. In a year…
-Has guided the Penguins to the second round of the playoffs last May.
-Has the best team in the AHL.
-Probably has the best NHL caliber player in Jake Guentzel ready to graduate to full time NHL work. Remember that Mike Sullivan had nothing to do with Guentzel here in Wilkes-Barre.
-Has a two-headed monster in goal with Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith.
-Manages an extremely deep lineup and keeps fringe players fresh by adding them into the lineup occasionally.
For as much as Wilkes-Barre has been a pipeline of players winning Stanely Cups at the next level so has the Diamond City been to the bench bosses that manage the team that calls Northeastern Pennsylvania home. In this game, a 5-4 Wilkes-Barre win over the Binghamton Senators, this is where excellent coaching comes into play.
In a game where the Penguins were totally outplaying their opponent and one that it seemed that the opposing team used a cheat code to score to take a multi-goal lead, Donatelli kept his team on point and managed to come back and win early on in the third period.
Trailing 4-3 coming into the third period, Wilkes-Barre strikes :11 into the period then 3:24 later to take the lead and ride Casey DeSmith the rest of the way to hold on and win.
Casey DeSmith, who started tonight for the Penguins, has yet to lose in regulation for Wilkes-Barre and you are ready to throw away your 2016 calendar and put the fresh 2017 one on your wall that you won from the office Secret Santa pool. The AHL season started in October by the way. DeSmith is 8-0-2 this year and 15-4-4 as a professional goaltender. Wilkes-Barre wins its sixth straight.
He opposed Matt O’Connor.
Dominik Simon – Kevin Porter – Tom Kostopoulos
Garrett Wilson – Oskar Sundqvist – Josh Archibald
Jake Guentzel – Teddy Blueger – Danny Kristo
Tom Sestito – J-S Dea – Ryan Haggerty
Tim Erixon – Stuart Percy
David Warsofsky – Lukas Bengtsson
Cameron Gaunce – Ethan Prow
Casey DeSmith – Tristan Jarry
Lineup Notes: Ryan Haggerty slotted in for Reid Gardiner and Ethan Prow rejoined Cameron Gaunce on the defensive pairing. Carter Rowney skated in the morning skate but was still out of the lineup tonight and is still week-to-week per Donatelli as told to the WBS media postgame.
First Period: Pens started out like sharks in chum in the middle of the ocean. No flies on either the Pens or the Senators in the first period after the long Christmas break for both teams. It was the Senators getting on the board first via a Mike Kostka power play goal. The Binghamton Senators last place power play beat the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins top rated penalty kill. Cameron Gaunce had lost his stick and DeSmith was partially screened. This snapped a streak of 20 successful penalty kills for the Penguins.
A few minutes later, the Penguins tied the game. Watch this pretty setup by Jake Guentzel…
Guentzel is falling down, dishes back to Kostopoulos who stuffs it home. NHL caliber play by an NHL caliber player right there.
Second Period: Game looked like one where the better team wasn’t the one that was winning on the scoreboard. Binghamton did not register a shot for more than five minutes into the game and they score on their first shot of the period when Mike Blunden scored on a quick rush to give the B-Sens a 2-1 lead.
Example. Matt O’Connor was spilling rebounds all over the place. Penguins weren’t able to corral one and score on one and continue to smother the Binghamton defense. Senators get loose and score to take the lead.
Chris Carlisle scored to give the B-Sens a 3-1 lead. But :24 later, Jake Guentzel broke away and scored here…
…and made it 3-2. Garrett Wilson was not able to push across a puck laying in the crease after a pad stop by O’Connor that didn’t carom into Section 14.
Bounces. Bounces. Bounces. Binghamton re-establishes a two goal lead when Jack Rodewald scored to make it 4-2. A puck deflected off of a linesman, off Cameron Gaunce’s skate, off DeSmith’s pad and into the net.
Oskar Sundqvist scored right after to make it 4-3…
Four goals within 3:37 between these two teams.
Third Period: :11 in, Garrett Wilson scored to tie it for the Penguins…
Then Jake Guentzel scored on the power play, through a Tom Kostopoulos screen, that made it 5-4 Wilkes-Barre.
12 points (7-5-12) for Guentzel in 8 games since returning from NHL assignment.
In case you were wondering about the Penguins coming out of Christmas holiday games. Seth dug this stat up…
Wilkes-Barre held on through a Binghamton power play late and an extra attacker with O’Connor vacated but the Senators were never able to find the equalizer.
Three Stars: 3) Jack Rodewald (goal, assist, -1) 2) Oskar Sundqvist (goal, assists, +2) and 1) Jake Guentzel (two goals, assist, +1)
Around the Division: Hershey thumps Lehigh Valley in Allentown 5-2. That result will widen a tight lead that the Penguins already had on the Phantoms. Providence continues their tear with a 4-2 win over Albany. Hartford wins three fourth straight as Bridgeport drops their fifth straight as the Wolf Pack win 5-2. Springfield was off, they may already be in Wilkes-Barre for their Tuesday game with the Penguins.
Standings: Penguins (.768 percentage points) — Lehigh Valley (.709) — (Hershey (.690) — Providence (.650) — Bridgeport (.571) — Springfield (.500) — Hartford (.448)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off, they are back in action this week.
Binghamton may post video highlights and if they do I will edit and put them here.
Pens are home for a Tuesday game against the Springfield Thunderbirds. Gameday setup for that will be up on the blog Tuesday afternoon at 3.
Let’s Go Pens!