Coming into Tuesday nights game with the last place Hartford Wolf Pack, you’d think that this would be what the doctor ordered for the top team in the AHL who lost two in a row coming in.
After the first period, you knew the quick two game losing streak was coming to an end. Confident, almost.
After the second, well ask me about half way into the third you say.
Where am I going with this you ask? The Pens went up 3-0 and nearly lost this one as a late Hartford push isn’t enough to get them across the line as the Penguins barely hold on and win 3-2.
Another weekday home game and so another chance for me to lazy leg it through the lines:
Casey DeSmith backed up Tristan Jarry, who opposed Brandon Halverson.
Notes: If you are missing Kevin Porter’s name, that’s because earlier in the day Tuesday the AHL suspended Porter one game for his third period hit on Providence’s Rob O’Gara on Friday. Porter played the next night in Binghamton which I find to be an extremely careless and lazy action by the League, whom I rarely criticize. I’m not upset at the suspension, Porter was suspended earlier in the season a game and I was frankly quite surprised the League didn’t suspend him more games. I’m surprised that the AHL waited until Tuesday to bring the hammer down on Porter. What if Porter did something suspension worthy Saturday? It’s lazy by the AHL. I don’t want to hear that because of New Years that this is some type of excuse either. The League had games Saturday and Sunday.
Anyway, I have spent too long ranting on this topic.
In Porter’s place, Jake Guentzel jumped on top line duty with Kostopoulos and Simon. Chad Ruhwedel and Dave Warsofsky were back in fresh from NHL reassignment.
In the first, the Penguins totally dominated the Wolf Pack, taking an 11-0 shot advantage and a 2-0 lead where it counted the most. Teddy Blueger found himself wide open at the top of the slot to open the scoring for the Penguins. Later, Josh Archibald got a piece of a Dave Warsofsky shot from the blue line that connected to double Wilkes-Barre’s lead.
It was ugly for Hartford. They looked like tackling dummies on a football practice field. They were there, you could see them, but the Penguins did whatever they wanted to them and they never hit back.
In the second, the Wolf Pack were better in that they didn’t allow the Penguins to score any goals and Halverson had some luck with a pad stop and his posts as Warsofsky and Gill came narrowly close to extending the lead.
Both teams had back to back power plays, but the Penguins remained in cruise control heading into the third.
There, the Penguins would connect on a power play to make it a 3-0 lead. A Derrick Pouliot shot from the point was redirected by Dominik Simon off the post right to Chad Ruhwedel cutting in off the wall that made it 3-0.
Right after that, a Steven Fogarty shot found its way in past Jarry through bodies that eliminated any hopes of a Penguin shutout at 5:45.
Hartford had been building momentum ever since they didn’t get steamrolled in the second period like they did the first. They were, in spurts, playing like the better team.
A Tanner Glass shot bounced in then out which made it 3-2 with about 5:30 left to play.
Hartford had a late power play after a careless Derrick Pouliot penalty put them there. But with Halverson vacated for the 6-on-4 man advantage, the Wolf Pack never found the equalizer.
I’m even taking the veteran option on three stars!
Around the Division: They all watched us.
Standings: Penguins (.734 percentage points) — Leigh Valley (.710) — Providence (.682) — Hershey (.672) — Bridgeport (.548) — Springfield (.500) — Hartford (.394)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off. Kevin Schulze was named an All-Star for Wheeling. More tomorrow in the Wheeling Wrap, which I’m pushing to Wednesday, so look for that at noon then.
But for breaking news, expect the next blog update after Wednesday’s Wheeling Wrap to be the Hershey Gameday setup Friday at 3.
Let’s Go Pens!