Fourth win in a row for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins tonight, a 4-2 win over a pesky Springfield Thunderbirds team that were with the Penguins step or step for 59:58 tonight. It was Adam Johnson’s empty net goal with 1.7 seconds left in regulation that ultimately put the Thunderbirds away.
Casey DeSmith picked up the win tonight for the Pens, who again have won four in a row. It sure has hell doesn’t feel like a four game winning streak with the tumultuous times that Wilkes-Barre has been in and battling out of.
I said in my Rapid Recap of this one earlier that this is a game a few weeks ago that the Penguins probably lose. They didn’t, of course, because of heady defense and pack mentality offensively. No scoring in the first period, Pens outshoot Springfield by a wide margin for a time then Greg McKegg breaks the deadlock and gets the Penguins on the board. A wild third period that saw both teams score four times, is probably one that the Penguins of three weeks ago manage to overthink and let get away from them. Not tonight.
Are the Penguins back? I think yes, but I am not sure yet. Bridgeport was the biggest test of the week and the Penguins passed with flying colors. Springfield is last in the division and Belleville, Saturday’s opponent, is playing awful hockey right now and got smoked by Binghamton on the Southern Tier 6-1 last night. I don’t make the schedule and a win is a win, but come see me when the Penguins meet up with the Providence Bruins and Lehigh Valley Phantoms later down the schedule before you start asking me if they Pens are back.
Casey DeSmith opposed Samuel Montembeault.
Zach Aston-Reese — J-S Dea — Ryan Haggerty
Garrett Wilson – Greg McKegg – Christian Thomas
Adam Johnson – Teddy Blueger – Colin Smith
Thomas Di Pauli – Jarrett Burton – Patrick McGrath
Jarred Tinordi – Zach Trotman
Andrey Pedan – Kevin Czuczman
Chris Summers – Ethan Prow
Casey DeSmith – Anthony Peters
Lineup Notes: Adam Johnson was back in, replacing Cody Wydo and Zach Trotman was in for Jeff Taylor.
First Period: No scoring here but the Penguins largely dominated offensive zone time and outshot the Thunderbirds 8-5.
Second Period: Greg McKegg would sweep in a doubled deflected shot from the point on the near side to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.
Jarred Tinordi swept away a Curtis Valk shot that slipped in between DeSmith that was reviewed on replay (nice to see it’s operable again) and then later murdered Ed Wittchow in this fight…
I have not seen a Penguins player manhandle an opponent in a fight like that in some timer. Tinordi stung Wittchow with many stiff shots, I counted nine straight at one point, full credit to the Thunderbirds defenseman for staying on his feet and not going down.
Third Period: 1:03 in, Mark Fayne scored to get the Thunderbirds on the board. He was there to poke home a rebound off of DeSmith’s pads to tie the game and make it a tie and new game again.
Christian Thomas scored on this snipe to re-establish the Penguins lead.
Later, Ryan Haggerty swept in a puck that the Thunderbirds did not clean up in front of Montembeault to give the Penguins a 3-1 lead.
I thought at that point it was the kill shot the Penguins finally were able to find.
:21 later, Dryden Hunt and other plans. Springfield established time in the offensive zone and Hunt scored to make it a one goal game again for the Thunderbirds.
But Springfield, with time becoming their enemy, were not able to find the equalizer and with Montembeault pulled saw Adam Johnson score on the empty net with 1.7 seconds left to ice it away for the Penguins.
Three Stars: 3) Greg McKegg (goal, +1) 2) Christian Thomas (goal, even) and 1) Ryan Haggerty (goal, +1)
Around the Division: Toronto takes down Lehigh Valley in a shootout 3-2….Hartford jumped out to a 3-0 lead and preserved it to hold on for a 3-2 win over Providence….Bridgeport scrapped with Rochester in Western New York and lost 3-2 in overtime. Charlotte was off.
Standings: Providence (.652 percentage points) — Lehigh Valley (.653) — Penguins (.652) — Charlotte (.632) — Bridgeport (.561) — Hershey (.486) — Hartford (.486) — Springfield (.417)
Pens are .001 percentage point behind the Lehigh Valley Phantoms with three games in hand.
Wheeling Update: Nailers score a touchdown and extra point on division leader Manchester, winning 7-4 at home. Riley Bourbonnais had a hat trick.
Belleville is in tomorrow night for their only stop down of the year. Pens Head Coach Clark Donatelli didn’t tip his hand as to who is starting in goal against the Senators Saturday. I’ll answer for him. Casey DeSmith hasn’t seen a ton of game action, he’s the guy on the NHL contract vs. the backup on PTO, DeSmith heads out of the tunnel first Saturday night for warmups.
Gameday setup hits the blog Saturday afternoon at 3.
Let’s Go Pens!