It took till the last day when the sun went down in 2016, but the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins have lost back to back regulation games.
A 3-2 loss and a dazzling display of goaltending by Chris Driedger of the Binghamton Senators. Driedger singlehandedly won the game for his team.
Pens drop two straight games for the first time this season and run to 2017 as the best team in the AHL despite the setback. Last night, Wilkes-Barre ran into a hot team in Providence. Tonight, they ran into a hot goaltender. You can’t win t hem all.
Casey DeSmith vs. Chris Driedger
Sahir Gill – Kevin Porter – Tom Kostopoulos
Garrett Wilson – Oskar Sundqvist – Josh Archibald
Jake Guentzel – J-S Dea – Dominik Simon
Tom Sestito – Teddy Blueger – Ryan Haggerty
Tim Erixon – Stuart Percy
Derrick Pouliot – Lukas Bengtsson
Cameron Gaunce – Ethan Prow
Casey DeSmith – Doug Carr
Lineup Notes: Sahir Gill’s first game action in 10 games, having last played on December 3. Head Coach Clark Donatelli stuck him on the top line with Kevin Porter and Tom Kostopoulos. He dropped Simon down to the third line, scratched Danny Kristo, and swapped Haggerty for Reid Gardiner. Defense unchanged.
First Period: No flies on Sahir Gill. Hasn’t played in 10 games, scores off of a face-off to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead…
Gill’s first goal for the Penguin since February 12.
Minutes later, Jason Akeson scored on the power play which tied it for the B-Sens. It was the fourth time in a row that the Penguins allow a power play goal on the first power play awarded to the opposing team.
Driedger denied a J-S Dea shot on a two on one opportunity late as the period ended.
Second Period: Jason Akeson scored his second when Stuary Percy turned the puck over. Darren Rumble took it, centered to Akeson mid-slot and Akeson gave the Senators the 2-1 lead.
Driedger was up to task in the period in denying the Penguins scoring chances. Wilkes-Barre’s fourth line had the better opportunities and outshot the Senators 20-6 in the period.
Buddy Robinson scored to make it 3-1 on a bullet pass that appeared offside. Here is the video I took. Let me know if you agree with Gaunce.
For what it’s worth, Clark Donatelli had this to say postgame to Seth as told by Nick Hart…
Pens got a late power play and lost Oskar Sundqvist to potential injury off of this shot by Derrick Pouliot…
Sundqvist made it to the bench, but needed assistance to the locker room not putting any weight on his right foot / leg. He did return for the…
Third Period: Pens continued to pour on the offense, seeing a Josh Archibald shot hit the crossbar but go out. Then Sundqvist hacked and whacked at a puck in Driedger’s pads but the B-Sens netminder was able to get over to the puck and smother it in his crease before it bled across the line.
The Penguins would outshoot the Senators 18-7 in the period and pounded Driedger with shots. They owned the offensive zone time.
Finally, the Penguins got a power play goal via, who else, Jake Guentzel.
Penguins would get no closer though as they needed to kill a penalty. Binghamton had no interest in wanting to press for a fourth goal because the Penguins weren’t letting them. Driedger continued to make save after save on the Penguins, and Wilkes-Barre with DeSmith pulled for an extra man, were never able to find the equalizer.
Three Stars: 3) Phil Varone (two assists, even) 2) Jason Akeson (two goals, even) and 1) Chris Driedger (44 saves on 46 shots)
Around the Division: Hartford falls at home against Albany, 3-1… Providence will nbc your new #1 team in the AHL Power Rankings on Monday with a 4-1 win in Hershey, another dominating win by a dominating team. Lehigh Valley, Springfield and Bridgeport were off.
Standings: Penguins (.726 percentage points) –Lehigh Valley (.710) — Providence (.682) — Hershey (.672) — Bridgeport (.567) — Springfield (.500) — Hartford (.406)
Wheeling Update: Kevin Schulze scores twice, Seam Maguire stops 34 of 36 and the Wheeling Nailers beat the Elmira Jackals 5-2 at home.
Binghamton might have video highlights and if they do I will run an edit.
The AHL Power Rankings Double Issue will be out at noon on Monday, a special publication time because I figure most of you will be celebrating the observed New Year plus I believe Penn State plays in the Rose Bowl at 4 Monday, so I figure you’d be more interested in that than the 20th ranked AHL team in the Power Rankings.
Wheeling Wrap returns Tuesday at noon, which also is the next time the Penguins are in action again, at home, against the Hartford Wolf Pack.
Happy New Year and Let’s Go Pens!