The thing about great teams is that they always, no matter the circumstances, find ways to win.
They can blow out an opponent, like the Penguins did last Friday at home against the Hershey Bears.
They can go up early, lose the lead in the middle, rally and win like they did Saturday at home against Binghamton.
They can win firefights, with multiple lead changes in the third period at the tail end of a three in three and win in overtime like they did Sunday in Hershey.
They can win a goaltenders duel, like they did tonight in Toronto by a score of 2-1.
A Marlies skater playing in his fourth AHL game this season scores on a lucky shot late in the second period to open the scoring of a game largely dominated by the goaltenders. Any average AHL team starts to pack it in and take risks. Not the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins.
Jake Guentzel is the first player in the AHL to 20 goals when he pounces on a turnover and scores to tie the game at one a piece.
Later, and with only minutes left, Tom Sestito, of all people, scores again to put the Penguins ahead for good and they hold on and win.
Five wins in a row for Wilkes-Barre, unbeaten in 2017. It seems that whatever you throw at this team, fastball, curveball, changeup, screwball, slurve, eephus, knuckleball, spitter, whatever, they are parking it 20 rows deep in center field.
Tristan Jarry opposed Garret Sparks.
Dominik Simon – Kevin Porter – Tom Kostopoulos
Garrett Wilson – Oskar Sundqvist – Josh Archibald
Jake Guentzel – J-S Dea – Danny Kristo
Tom Sestito – Teddy Blueger – Ryan Haggerty
Derrick Pouliot – Tim Erixon
Cameron Gaunce – Ethan Prow
Stuart Percy – Barry Goers
Tristan Jarry – Casey DeSmith
Lineup Notes: Tristan Jarry was reassigned from Pittsburgh today and David Warsofsky was recalled to Pittsburgh because the flu is going through the room up top. Jarrett Burton was sent to Wheeling earlier this week.
First Period: It was a very quick, crisp period by both teams. No penalties. Shots were 11-9 Penguins and it was Wilkes-Barre that dominated stretches of play. Garrett Sparks denied Dominik Simon twice in one shift then Tristan Jarry denied a Colin Greening shot on a three on two a few minutes later. The one thing I picked up the most in this overly uneventful period was Nick Hart on color describing the Penguins / Marlies shot chart. He described the Penguins shot chart looking like a bees nest and the Marlies shot chart looking like an umbrella.
Second Period: First half of the game was a goaltending duel between Tristan Jarry and Garrett Sparks. Sparks denied Ethan Prow in the slot, a Sundqvist one timer, then Jake Guentzel hit a post followed up by Dominik Simon.
Later, Tony Cameranesi scored his first goal of the season on a low angle turn around shot on Jarry that game then Marlies a 1-0 lead…
Third Period: Jake Guentzel strikes on a Marlies turnover.
As mentioned in the open, Jake Guentzel is the first player in the AHL to 20 goals. It’s Guentzel’s 32nd game.
Tristan Jarry stoned Cameranesi shorthanded to keep the game at 1-1. Kevin Porter made a horrible exit pass in his own end.
Teddy Blueger was the latest Penguin to hit a post for Wilkes-Barre. The posts must be bigger in Canada.
Tom Sestito then scored this goal top shelf off a nice feed by Derrick Pouliot that put the Penguins ahead 2-1….
Four goals in the last four games for Sestito. Even me, the math idiot, can tell you that is a goal a game for a player known more for his fists than his goal scoring prowess.
Three Stars: 3) Tom Sestito (goal, +1) 2) Garrett Sparks (32 saves on 34 shots) 1) Tristan Jarry 27 saves on 28 shots)
Around the Division: Hartford beats Rochester in Western New York by a score of 3-1. Springfield loses in overtime to Albany at home 3-2. Everyone else was off.
Standings: Penguins (.764 points percentage) — Lehigh Valley (.706) — Providence (.681) — Hershey (.643) — Bridgeport (.561) — Springfield (.500) — Hartford (.405)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers remain to be the stone in the shoe for the ECHL’s best Toledo Walleye. Nailers win 5-2. Sean Maguire named third star with 31 saves on 33 shots.
Pens will bus to Rochester and practice there in advance of Friday’s game with the Americans. If there is anything blog-worthy I will have something here Thursday. If not, look for the next update for the blog at 3 Friday for the Rochester Gameday setup.
Let’s Go Pens!