Chirps from Center Ice

A fan blog about the AHL's Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins

Three in the Third – Seven in a Row — Pens WIN 3-1

SYR          @          NOR

3                                              1

Continuing my theme this week of what exactly makes a great team, I’ll offer another courtesy of play-by-play man Mike O’Brien…

Penguins win 3-1 in Syracuse, scoring three goals in the third period and finally breaking open a game that was gummed up by two division leaders not allowing the others an inch of space to make play.

It should be a heck of a rematch Monday afternoon. The Pens are staying in Syracuse tonight and Sunday and will play there again Monday afternoon.

It was a battle of the AHL’s best road team in Wilkes-Barre (.750) vs. the AHL’s best home team in the Syracuse Crunch who have a .806 points percentage at home.

Casey DeSmith opposed Kristers Gudlevskis.

Lines were…

Sahir Gill – Kevin Porter – Tom Kostopoulos
Garrett Wilson – Oskar Sundqvist – Josh Archibald
Jake Guentzel – Carter Rowney – Dominik Simon
Tom Sestito – Teddy Blueger – J-S Dea

Derrick Pouliot – Tim Erixon
Stuart Percy – Chad Ruhwedel
Cameron Gaunce – Ethan Prow

Casey DeSmith – Tristan Jarry

Lineup Notes: Sahir Gill was back in the lineup for Danny Kristo. Head Coach Clark Donatelli put him on the top line. Ryan Haggerty took warmups but was scratched. On defense, Barry Goers yielded to Chad Ruhwedel.

First Period: Jake Guentzel doesn’t miss a lot when he shoots the puck, but when Dominik Simon and Carter Rowney set up Guentzel with some nice passing plays that drew Kristers Gudlevskis out of position leaving Guentzel with an open net, the Penguins rookie hit the post and the puck dribbled wide.

That near miss gave Gudlevskis some confidence as he went and stopped Tom Kostopoulos not once, not twice, but three times in one sequence.

Tom Sestito and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond fought in a old school heavyweight fight you don’t see that often anymore. Leblond got the takedown on Sestito after Tom switched hands.

Teams traded penalties. Josh Archibald was poked checked away by Gudlevskis after he got a step on a man.

Later, Jake Dotchin pounced on a puck left in the slot and fired it home past DeSmith that gave the Crunch a 1-0 lead.

First Period Highlights: I, for one, love that a team offers up something like this because it has in visual form what I just described above…

Second Period: It was a chippy, choppy period for both division leaders. Daniel Walcott lowered the boom on a legal hit on Ethan Prow that put Prow in the locker room for a while (Prow did return) which prompted a Sahir Gill cross checking penalty.

I don’t like the fact that they are phasing out fighting because of things like this. Guy takes a run at your guy, but because you don’t know how to fight because no one taught you to, you can’t do anything other than just take runs at the guy that hit your guy or runs at anyone else on the ice not wearing your jersey. That’s where injuries happen. Sahir Gill was so mad that it forced him to cross check someone. What if he cross checks him down hard onto the ice and that causes an injury that causes an injury? It’s just silly that they are totally trying to take fighting out of the game entirely because it’s going to breed idiotic retaliation penalties like this one.

And get a blogger off topic by dedicating a long paragraph editorializing a position on a game in general versus recapping a hockey game.

For the rest of the period, it seemed like that whenever one team went on the power play, they would take a penalty and the majority of the period was played four on four.

Second Period Highlights: 

Third Period: Carter Rowney scored his second goal in as many night with a slow developing play with Dominik Simon as a trailer. Rowney banks a shot off Gudlevskis and into the net that tied the game…

Pens would edge ahead as a puck deflects off of Cory Conacher and into his own net. With Dominik Simon the last Penguin touching the puck, he gets credit…

That goal snapped an 18 game scoring drought for Simon.

Casey DeSmith remained sharp throughout the game that kept it a one goal game and kept Syracuse from responding after going down one in the third period in stunning fashion.

Through some more, ‘why I oughtta’s’ from players on the ice that don’t know how to fight, Jake Guentzel hits an empty net on a power play for his side that makes it 3-1 Wilkes-Barre. Tom Kostopoulos assisted here and that gave him 300 assists in his AHL career.

Three Stars: 3) Casey DeSmith (22 saves on 22 shots) 2) Jake Dotchin (goal, -1) 1) Dominik Simon (goal, assist, +1)

Around the Division: Hershey with the big assist tonight for the Penguins in beating the Lehigh Valley Phantoms by a score of 6-4…St. John’s beats Hartford on the Rock 4-2…Utica beats Bridgeport 3-1…Providence shuts out Springfield 1-0.

Standings: Penguins (.776 percentage points) — Lehigh Valley (.694) — Providence (.671) — Hershey (.635) — Bridgeport (.543) — Springfield (.514) — Hartford (.410)

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were beaten on home ice by the Kalamazoo Wings by a score of 5-1. Brett Stern scored for Wheeling, Doug Carr took the loss for the Nailers in goal.

Video highlights in a tweet:

Second Period Grades are due, and with the Week 14 AHL Power Rankings, coupled with the Penguins game Monday at 1 and the Wheeling Wrap Tuesday I may just drop the Second Quarter Grades as soon as I finish them Sunday afternoon, run the Week 14 AHL Power Rankings later on in the day, mention both on the social media sides and link in the Monday postgame story.

Lots of stuff for me to write and you guys to read.

Let’s Go Pens!

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