Let me explain this lede here in the opening paragraph: The Penguins scored all three of their goals tonight from long distance and used most of their shots tonight from around the face-off dot back at Comets starting goaltender Richard Bachman. You will see that in the GIFs that the Penguins were nice enough to post on Twitter.
A 3-2 Penguins win tonight against an all of a sudden good Utica side that had come into tonight’s game on a long point streak and 8-1-1-0 in their last ten games.
Wilkes-Barre improves to 11-2 in the month of January and 32-9-3-0 overall.
Casey DeSmith opposed the aforementioned Richard Bachman.
Garrett Wilson – Carter Rowney – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Sestito – Kevin Porter – Josh Archibald
Dominik Simon – Teddy Blueger – J-S Dea
Ryan Haggerty – Sahir Gill – Danny Kristo
Derrick Pouliot – Tim Erixon
Stuart Percy – David Warsofsky
Cameron Gaunce – Ethan Prow
Casey DeSmith – Tristan Jarry
Lineup Notes: Carter Rowney was re-assigned to the Penguins minutes before the teams took warmups in Utica. Also, as Seth reported yesterday, Tim Erixon was back in the lineup. Steve Oleksy, having cleared waivers Thursday, was listed as a healthy scratch.
First Period: Utica stayed step for step with the Penguins for the most part in the period but it was Wilkes-Barre that found the back of the net twice. Josh Archibald on this slapshot…
…and then Tim Erixon on this slapper from the blueline that beat Bachman.
The Penguins hemmed Utica in their zone for over a minute forcing the gassed Comets to ice the puck. Off the face off, Tom Sestito, the local native of nearby Rome, NY, makes a behind the back pass to Erixon who buried it from long range.
Second assist of the night for Kevin Porter who is heating up.
Second Period: About a minute in, Casey DeSmith made this save that kept it a 2-0 Penguins lead…
That was Alex Grenier the unlucky man there unable to finish a Utica 2-on-1.
That was it from the highlight end of the period. Utica heavily dominated the period but trailed on the scoreboard. It was the Penguins defense and some nice saves by Casey DeSmith that preserved the Penguins 2-0 lead.
Game really opened up in the last minute and a half with Tim Erixon hitting a post followed up by Danny Kristo.
Third Period: :07 into a Utica power play with Stuart Percy in the box for a delay of game, Alex Grenier exacts his revenge on that save DeSmith made on him in the second period with a blast from the point that put the Comets on the board via a power play goal.
Utica came into tonight 2 for their last 38 on the power play.
Derrick Pouliot scored to re-establish the two goal lead as a power play expired for Wilkes-Barre…
Utica had been building a crescendo towards a goal in the games final minutes but Casey DeSmith made a nice glove save that stopped any momentum that the Comets were building.
Bachman was pulled for an extra attacker and Evan McEneny scored to bring the Comets to within one.
Wilkes-Barre would ice the puck seven times an ran the clock out.
Three Stars: 3) Cameron Gaunce (two assists, +2) 2) Alexandre Grenier (goal, assist, -1) and 1) Derrick Pouliot (game winning goal, +1)
Around the Division: Lehigh Valley clips Binghamton on the Southern Tier by a 2-1 score to stay within arms distance of the Penguins for the top spot in the Atlantic….Providence takes down Hershey 3-2 in a shootout….Bridgeport wins its sixth straight, beating Hartford in a shootout 3-2, and is now even with points and regulation or overtime wins with Hershey and has two games in hand on the Bears for the fourth spot in the Atlantic….Syracuse deflects as late Springfield charge and hangs on to beat the Thunderbirds 4-3.
Standings: Penguins (.761 percentage points) — Lehigh Valley (.714) — Providence (.659) — Bridgeport (.610) — Hershey (.581) — Springfield (.476) — Hartford (.398)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers beat the Quad City Mallards tonight by a score of 5-2. Cody Wydo scored a pair of goals and Sean Maguire picked up the win in net for Wheeling.
The Pens will bus down I-81 to Binghamton for Saturday’s meeting with the Senators on the Southern Tier Saturday at 7. Gameday setup hits the blog Saturday at 3.
Let’s Go Pens!