Depending on how you interpret things, you can call this a statement win by the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins. Not just on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms who have been the Penguins main pursuer for the top spot in the Atlantic, but on the rest of the division and Eastern Conference.
The third shutout in a row against the Phantoms, who haven’t scored a goal on the Penguins in 215:38. Lehigh Valley isn’t a team that gets shutout that often mind you. The Phantoms are still battling for playoff positioning in a battle with three other teams separated by just three points coming in. Wilkes-Barre wins 3-0 to push the point total to 100 this season and is again the first AHL team to reach the threshold of tens this season; the first time Wilkes-Barre has hit 100 points since 2010-11.
This is without regulars like Josh Archibald and Dominik Simon in the lineup, Zach Aston-Reese away on Hobey Baker duty and Thomas DiPauli out with an injury.
Defense remains generally intact though and that was what the Penguins relied upon to get them through this one. The Phantoms only had 21 shots on goal in this game. Lehigh Valley is the second highest scoring team in the league.
Tristan Jarry opposed Anthony Stolarz.
Sahir Gill – Kevin Porter – Tom Kostopoulos
Garrett Wilson – Oskar Sundqvist – Ryan Haggerty
Troy Josephs – Teddy Blueger – J-S Dea
Adam Krause – Jarrett Burton – Patrick McGrath
David Warsofsky – Frank Corrado
Derrick Pouliot – Brett Stern
Tim Erixon – Ethan Prow
Tristan Jarry – Casey DeSmith
Lineup Notes: Casey DeSmith and Jake GuentzelI didn’t get to put this in a blog post this week but were named to the AHL All-Rookie Team this week and David Warsofsky was named to the AHL All-Star Second Team this week….Zach Aston-Reese was away on Hobey Baker duty and Thomas DiPauli was out with an injury, possibly his wrist per WBS media reports I saw this week….Coal Street recalled Wheeling Nailers captain Nick Sorkin earlier in the day Friday but he was a healthy scratch tonight…Barry Goers was announced as paired with Derrick Pouliot, but it was Brett Stern who took warmups, that slotted in on the second defensive pairing.
First Period: Anthony Stolarz was under fire early and often by the Penguins who didn’t allow the Phantoms a shot on goal until 9:20 into the period. The period ended scoreless and the storylines were the aggressive start by the Penguins and the stellar play by Anthony Stolarz in net for the Phantoms.
Second Period: It was another smothering defensive period by the Penguins, who didn’t allow the Phantoms a shot until 9:09 into the second.
Oskar Sundqvist scored on this nice slapshot that gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead….
It was the 100th professional point for Sundqvist.
Penguins ended up taking two penalties to close out the period but the Phantoms were not able to capitalize.
Third Period: Sundqvist scored his second of the night with this shot…
…that made it 2-0 Penguins.
Penguins basically whittled time down and kept the Phantoms at bay the entire period. Then after a time out and Stolarz pulled, David Warsofsky scored this empty net goal from 190′ away to make it 3-0 and ice the game away…
The only issue which remained was whether or not the Penguins would collect the shutout for the third consecutive time against Lehigh Valley. They did.
Three Stars: 3) Tristan Jarry (21 save shutout) 2) Ryan Haggerty (two assists. +2) 1) Oskar Sundqvist (two goals, assist, +3)
Around the Division: Providence beats Bridgeport 2-1. These two teams rematch tomorrow. Hershey beats Rochester 3-2. Hartford beats Springfield 4-3.
Standings: Penguins (.704 percentage points) — Providence (.655) — Lehigh Valley (.646) — Bridgeport (.625) — Hershey (.623) — Springfield (.479) — Hartford (.380)
Wheeling Update: Nailers throttle Kalamazoo 7-2 in West Virginia. Riley Bourbonnais had a hat trick, Christian Hilbrich had a goal and two assists and Sean Maguire stopped 36 of 38 shots.
Sprong Watch: Daniel Sprong and the Charlottetown Islanders have a 1-0 series lead on the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles after beating them Thursday 4-1. Sprong had a goal in the contest. Game 2 is played Saturday.
If Lehigh Valley puts up video highlights or if the Penguins run them, I will run an edit here if I can.
Pens now bus to Hartford as the weekend road trip continues. Gameday setup hits the blog Saturday at 3.
Let’s Go Pens!