Take what you want out of this one, a 5-1 win by the Penguins over the Syracuse Crunch.
It’s rare that you see a team go with seven defensemen on purpose. It’s even rarer that you see a team dress eight.
Such is the case for the Syracuse Crunch who, despite your groaning over the Pittsburgh Penguins recalling another Wilkes-Barre asset from Coal Street, have dealt with nonstop call-ups and send downs for months.
The most ridiculous part of all of this is that despite the daily, “Syracuse Crunch Transaction” on the AHL website, the Crunch lead the North Division.
But there in lies the other issue. The fifth place team in the Atlantic Division, whoever that may be at the end of the season, would probably win the North Division Championship outright. But they won’t, because they play in the Atlantic and there is no crossover this year. Syracuse, despite their call-ups and all, lead a division of misfit teams that probably wouldn’t contend night in and night against a steady stream of Wilkes-Barre, Lehigh Valley, Hershey, Providence and Bridgeport night after night, weekend after weekend.
So the Penguins were expected to go into Onondaga County War Memorial Arena tonight and win the way they did tonight. It’s a case of equal teams (division leaders pillaged by callups) who are haves vs. have nots.
Tristan Jarry opposed Kristers Gudlevskis.
Zach Aston-Reese – Kevin Porter – Tom Kostopoulos
Dominik Simon – Teddy Blueger – Ryan Haggerty
Thomas DiPauli – J-S Dea – Sahir Gill
Troy Josephs – Jarrett Burton – Adam Krause
Derrick Pouliot – David Warsofsky
Tim Erixon – Ethan Prow
Brett Stern – Barry Goers
Tristan Jarry – Casey DeSmith
Lineup Notes: Sahir Gill was back in the lineup for Clark Donatelli getting in for the recalled Josh Archibald who went up Thursday in the wake of the Jake Guentzel concussion… Patrick McGrath was a scratch, eligible after serving his three game suspension… Ryan Segalla was the other healthy body who was not used this evening.
First Period: It was a game of back and forth between these two division leaders, and the Penguins made the most of their chances.
Wilkes-Barre didn’t get a shot on goal for about the first four and a half minutes, then laster Thomas DiPauli scored his second goal of the season on this nice low shot that beat Gudlevskis….
DiPauli used Dylan Blujus as a screen there.
Right after that goal, the Penguins were called for concurrent penalties and had to all of a sudden kill a full 2:00 of Crunch 5-on-3. They did so, successfully.
Later, Kevin Porter scored to double the Penguins lead at two on this nice drop pass by Zach Aston-Reese….
What sense by Aston-Reese there to leave a pass like that for Porter to corral and score on. Acute hockey sense right there in his second professional game.
Aston-Reese then found the net on his own when he scored this goal that chased Kristers Gudlevskis….
Mike McKenna came on in relief. The Penguins would then get a power play and looked to make it 4-0 and turn this one into a laugher, but then this happened…
Cory Conacher started the rush, Micheal Bournival kept up and tapped it in and Tristan Jarry had no chance.
So instead of it turning into a runaway by the Penguins, Syracuse got one back heading into the…
Second Period: You know things are going your way when Barry Goers throws a shot at the net from his own blue line that goes in and beats a future AHL Hall of Fame goaltender in Mike McKenna.
Tristan Jarry had a highlight reel save on Erik Condra, diving post to post to deny it becoming a sudden two goal lead.
Wilkes-Barre was basically gift wrapped penalty after penalty but were unable to capitalize on the power plays.
Here are the second period highlights. The Jarry save referenced above is at or around the :40 mark…
Third Period: After the Crunch killed a carryover penalty, Dominik Simon tapped this puck in that made it 5-1….
That was the put away goal that the Penguins needed that took all of the air out of the Crunch sails. Not that Syracuse was close at any point to here, but they would never get a run going.
The only other memorable thing to happen in the period of a 5-1 game last in the third against Syracuse was this little interaction with Tye McGinn of Syracuse and Tristan Jarry and J-S Dea of Wilkes-Barre / Scranton…
Jarry did his best Anthony Stolarz impersonation and flopped, a pile of bodies ensued and J-S Dea called McGinn a chicken using sign language. Tristan was fine, and obviously playing with the Crunch here late in the third.
Three Stars: 3) Michael Bournival (shorthanded goal, even) 2) Barry Goers (goal, assist, +2) and 1) Kevin Porter (goal, assist, +1)
Around the Division: The other PA teams in Hershey and Lehigh Valley were off tonight. The Phantoms just flew back from St. John’s and the Bears are there for a pair this weekend starting tomorrow. Providence wins 3-1 in Hartford to maintain the fourth and final spot in the Atlantic over Bridgeport, who was also idle tonight. Springfield was in Rochester tonight and were up 3-1 but lost 4-3 in overtime to the Americans.
Standings: Penguins (.700 percentage points) — Lehigh Valley (.677) — Hershey (.644) — Providence (.638) — Bridgeport (.623) — Springfield (.500) — Hartford (.369)
Sprong Watch: I am introducing a new feature here on the blog for the time being called, “Sprong Watch.” Daniel Sprong’s Charlottetown Islanders are in the QMJHL playoffs and in Game 1 tonight against the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, the Islanders took Game 1 by a 4-2 final. Sprong had a goal and an assist in the contest. When the Charlottetown Islanders win the President’s Cup, Sprong should join Wilkes-Barre for the Calder Cup Playoffs should the Penguins get there. If the Islanders happen to fall short, then Sprong will be here sooner than that. But I figure it’s something to keep an eye on, so that’s what we will do. Game 2 of the Best of Seven series goes off Saturday from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
Wheeling Update: Wheeling lost to the Idaho Steelheads 3-2.
Pens travel to Allentown to take on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms Saturday at 7:05. Gameday setup hits the blog here Saturday afternoon at 3.
Let’s Go Pens!