It’s not supposed to be this easy.
If the Penguins would have defeated the Lehigh Valley Phantoms tonight, they would have went seven points clear of second place in the Atlantic Division and probably would have iced away the division championship.
It’s not supposed to be this easy.
A mess of penalties taken by the Penguins put them behind the 8-ball all night, they couldn’t build any momentum, Phantoms get two goals :15 apart in the second and hang on to win 3-2.
A lot will be said about the officiating of the game from referee Peter Tarnaris. I thought he had an okay two periods and then sort of lost control as the game was getting close and chippy in the third. Some of the calls were questionable, the Josh Archibald slash on Anthony Stolarz was abhorrent, but overall it wasn’t the penalties that killed the Penguins. Wilkes-Barre’s penalty kill went 6-for-6.
The AHL will eventually be at a four man crew in 2019 once they have enough capable officials trained. Friday and tonight you had all 30 AHL teams in action meaning at 15 different venues, you needed at least one referee. The AHL isn’t at the level where they can trust 30 referees to work on a night where every team is in action. Also you have to remember that a lot of these referees work in the NHL and ECHL, so that’s something else to consider.
Look, I am not defending the officiating tonight. I am just saying it wasn’t the major reason why the Penguins lost the game.
Tristan Jarry opposed Anthony Stolarz.
Sahir Gill – Kevin Porter – Tom Kostopoulos
Thomas DiPauli – Oskar Sundqvist – Josh Archibald
Dominik Simon – Teddy Blueger – J-S Dea
Troy Josephs – Jarrett Burton – Ryan Haggerty
David Warsofsky – Frankie Corrado
Tim Erixon – Ethan Prow
Brett Stern – Barry Goers
Tristan Jarry – Casey DeSmith
Lineup Notes: Troy Josephs made his pro debut tonight replacing Adam Krause on the fourth line. I personally thought he played well and showed flashes of brilliance in the limited role he had on the fourth line. No other lineup changes for the Penguins.
First Period: Josephs first shift almost netted the Clarkson product a goal as he came dangerously close to tipping in a shot from the point.
Tyrell Goulbourne scored his first goal of the season on a nice shot that made it 1-0 Lehigh Valley at 6:01.
Penguins had a lot of runs up the ice shorthanded all night with Oskar Sundqvist leading the charge. This time, he couldn’t get a shot off.
Penguins had to kill two different sequences of 5-on-3 Phantoms power play time and did successfully, here in the first for :51.
Second Period: It was :15 that put the Penguins down in a hole they couldn’t get out of.
Tristan Jarry was knocked down by a teammate, couldn’t get back on his skates when Reece Willcox scored to make it 2-0. On the next play Danick Martel made it 3-0 on a turn around shot that went in.
The rout was on. Or was it?
Wilkes-Barre would go on to outshoot the Phantoms 21-8 in the period but still could not solve Stolarz. In this period, the Phantoms took three penalties to the Penguins one, but Wilkes-Barre was unable to get one past the Lehigh Valley goaltender.
Third Period: Tom Kostopoulos bangs one in on a rebound to put the Penguins on the board early in the third on a power play goal.
Penguins found themselves down two men again when they had to kill :52 of Phantoms two man advantage. This was the sequence where Archibald was called for slashing on Anthony Stolarz. Here’s Penguins Head Coach Clark Donatelli’s thoughts on this play as told to Tom postgame….
Tarnaris was a good 80 feet away from the play, working by himself, saw something and needed to make a call in the split second. Was it the right call? I don’t think so, but again, these officials are drilled to protect the goaltenders at all costs.
Oskar Sundqvist scored shorthanded on a separate penalty kill to bring the Penguins to within one…
The Penguins then got a power play late with under two minutes to play. But, after a time out and with Jarry pulled for the extra man, were never able to find the equalizer.
Three Stars: 3) Tom Kostopoulos (goal, even) 2) Oskar Sundqvist (goal, -1) 1) Chris McCarthy (two assists, +2)
Around the Division: Hershey beats Hartford 6-4 at home. They bus to Bridgeport overnight for a huge Sunday afternoon meeting against the Sound Tigers…the aforementioned Sound Tigers beat Utica 4-1 to stay two points out of a playoff spot. Providence beat Springfield 4-2.
Standings: Penguins (.690 percentage points) — Lehigh Valley (.667) — Providence (.643) — Hershey (.633) — Bridgeport (.627) — Springfield (.492) — Hartford (.381)
Wheeling Update: lost in overtime 5-4. The Nailers to the Adirondack Thunder. More Tuesday in the Wheeling Wrap. The Nailers play Elmira Sunday.
Tom once more on the penalty disparity the Penguins are dealing with right now….
I guess if you come at the king, you best not miss.
AHL Power Rankings are yours Monday at 4, Wheeling Wrap noon Tuesday with the Hartford Gameday setup at 3 Tuesday afternoon.
Let’s Go Pens!