Good thing Springfield has been eliminated from playoff contention because if they were a playoff team, Wilkes-Barre would want nothing to do with them.
The Thunderbirds sweep the Penguins on home ice up at MassMutual Center and beat Wilkes-Barre 3-1. For a place that the Penguins used as an offensive playground not too long ago, the goals have certainly dried up big time from a Wilkes-Barre perspective.
It was a bad night overall for the Pennsylvania teams in the AHL in general. Lehigh Valley and Hershey both lost tonight. The Penguins lead on the Phantoms remains at 5 but the magic number to clinch playoffs remains at 5 as well because the Bridgeport Sound Tigers beat the Phantoms. Also with Hershey getting shutout in Hartford to the Wolf Pack 3-0, that puts the game tomorrow between Hershey and Bridgeport basically as a must win for the Bears if they really want to get serious about a trip to the playoffs.
Anyway, Tristan Jarry opposed Sam Brittain.
Zach Aston-Reese – Kevin Porter – Tom Kostopoulos
Garrett Wilson – Oskar Sundqvist – Josh Archibald
Dominik Simon – Teddy Blueger – J-S Dea
Thomas DiPauli – Jarrett Burton – Ryan Haggerty
David Warsofsky – Frank Corrado
Derrick Pouliot – Barry Goers
Jeff Taylor – Tim Erixon
Tristan Jarry – Casey DeSmith
Lineup Notes: Tons. Oskar Sundqvist, Josh Archibald and David Warsofsky were returned to Wilkes-Barre Thursday afternoon from Pittsburgh. Archibald, Sundqvist and Garrett Wilson skated on a line for the first time since February 14, which was the last time that Garrett Wilson played any game of significance of the Penguins before his injury. Jeff Taylor made his pro debut on the third pairing with Tim Erixon.
First Period: If you missed most of the first period like I did, you didn’t miss much. The most significant thing to happen in the period was this fight Zach Aston-Reese had with Mackenzie Weegar after Aston-Reese freight trained Tim Bozon at center ice. Here is the whole thing…
Both teams traded power plays, no one scored, the Thunderbirds outshoot the Penguins 9-7.
Second Period: Matt MacKenzie capitalized off of a Wilkes-Barre turnover and scored at 10:18 to give the Thunderbirds a 1-0 lead. Wilkes-Barre’s biggest problem was that they placed a paltry six shots at Sam Brittain that he disposed of quickly which a majority of came shorthanded. The Penguins were locked into yet another low scoring affair with the Thunderbirds and were on the wrong end of referee Keith Kaval and Andrew Wilk’s whistles. Usually in games like these, it’s very hard to generate offense let alone get a goal.
Third Period: Thunderbirds double their lead on a goal by Anthony Greco. Springfield on a power play went for a dump in and Jarry vacated his net to corral the puck but before he touched it, it hit off of a stanchion and popped right in the slot to Greco who had the easy tap in for the goal….
Penguins started to push back but couldn’t get one past Brittain. Springfield did the same and got another past Jarry that made it 3-0. Kyle Rau…
Penguins would finally get one past Brittain and get on the board on this nice face-off win by Jarrett Burton to Ryan Haggerty for a goal that would bust up the shutout bid Springfield had going…
Penguins wouldn’t get any closer with Jarry vacated for an extra attacker.
Three Stars: 3) Sam Brittain (27 saves on 28 shots) 2) Matt MacKenzie (goal, even) and 1) Anthony Greco (goal, +1)
Around the Division: As noted in the open it was a bad night for the Pennsylvania teams in the AHL and a good night for pretty much everyone else. Hershey gets shutout by the Wolf Pack in Hartford 3-0…Lehigh Valley loses at home to a desperate Sound Tigers team 3-1 and Providence beats Albany 4-1.
Standings: Penguins (.699 percentage points) — Lehigh Valley (.662) — Providence (.654) — Hershey (.630) — Bridgeport (.623) — Springfield (.486) — Hartford (.382)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers beat the Brampton Beast 4-3. Daniel Leavens had a pair of goals for the Nailers in the win. Sean Maguire picked up the win in net stopping 32 of 35.
Sprong Watch: Blogged Thursday that Daniel Sprong’s Charlottetown Islanders are onto the second round of the QMJHL Playoffs after a sweep of Baie-Comeau. Sprong and the Islanders won’t know who they play until all of the other series in the first round are complete.
If Springfield puts out a video highlight package that I see and am able to edit in here, I will do so at this spot.
Pens are home Saturday to host the Phantoms. Both teams will be looking for redemption after bad losses. Gameday setup hits the blog here Saturday afternoon at 3.
Let’s Go Pens!