The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins needed a game like this.
The Belleville Senators have been bad all season, their 6th place showing in the North Division is only bested by last place Binghamton, who the Penguins have struggled with.
So the Penguins rightfully should crush a young, inexperienced Belleville team.
It’s exactly how the outcome turned out tonight.
A 6-0 win. Casey DeSmith was marvelous in goal tonight for the Penguins, stopping all 24 shots sent his way. The game had some lulls to it as any game would, but when called upon DeSmith was there to preserve his clean sheet. Now five wins in a row for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins.
Two goals from J-S Dea tonight and two more from Christian Thomas who must be pushing hard to get noticed for Team Canada and the Olympics. Secondary scoring from defensemen in Ethan Prow and Zach Trotman and that’s your ballgame.
DeSmith opposed Chris Driedger.
Zach Aston-Reese — J-S Dea — Ryan Haggerty
Garrett Wilson – Greg McKegg – Christian Thomas
Adam Johnson – Teddy Blueger – Colin Smith
Freddie Tiffels – Jarrett Burton – Thomas Di Pauli
Jarred Tinordi – Zach Trotman
Andrey Pedan – Kevin Czuczman
Chris Summers – Ethan Prow
Casey DeSmith – Anthony Peters
Lineup Notes: Earlier in the day, the Pittsburgh Penguins placed defenseman Frank Corrado on waivers. Lineup wise tonight, Patrick McGrath was out for Freddie Tiffels.
First Period: Christian Thomas used a Belleville defenseman with a screen and ripped home a shot from the high slot that went in to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.
Zach Trotman a few minutes later doubles the Penguins lead to 2-0 with this shot from the point that makes it way past Driedger for a 2-0 Penguins lead…
Despite the fact that it was a low shot period for the Belleville Senators, Casey DeSmith was dialed in, stopping a deflected puck from the point then the rebound attempt.
Second Period: Belleville tried to push back with a lot more offensive zone time then they had in the first period, but the Penguins played a bend but not break style of hockey that preserved the 2-0 lead when J-S Dea scored to give the Penguins a 3-0 lead. Dea had to be called back onto the ice by referee David Banfield after an icing call, won the face-off that ensured in his own zone, then skated the length of the ice and scored to give the Pens the 3-0 lead.
It was Dea’s first goal in 15 games, so he took the proverbial monkey on his back and threw it into Section 102.
Third Period: J-S Dea again, this time off of Driedger and in. Check this out…
Power play goal by Dea made it 4-0 Penguins. Dea’s first multi-goal game of the season, his last coming March 5, 2017. Oh, and also…
Ethan Prow fired and scored his first goal of the season to make it 5-0.
Christian Thomas scored his second of the night that made it 6-0.
Twelve Penguins recorded at least a point and four of them had multi point nights.
It was the definition of a great team tearing apart a bad team.
Three Stars: 3) J-S Dea (two goals, +1) 2) Casey DeSmith (24 save shutout) and 1) Christian Thomas (two goals, assist, +4)
Around the Division: Really good results here if you are a Penguin fan. Providence beat Springfield 6-2…Rochester beat Lehigh Valley 3-1…Hershey crushed Charlotte 5-1…Syracuse beats Hartford 3-2…Toronto steamrolls Bridgeport 6-1.
Standings: Providence (.691 percentage points) — Penguins (.662) — Lehigh Valley (.635) — Charlotte (.614) — Bridgeport (.544) — Hershey (.500) — Hartford (.472) — Springfield (.405)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers were in Cincinnati and lost to the Cyclones 4-2. Kevin Schulze and Cam Brown scored for the Nailers in the loss.
I’m not really convinced that the Penguins are back, so to speak, rather than just playing out of their terrible December by getting pieces back together and beating some really bad teams. That week where Wilkes-Barre hosts Lehigh Valley on January 17 and then travels to Providence on the 19th is circled on my calendar as the true tests for this team.
If Frank Corrado is claimed on waivers, I’ll put a blog post up Sunday noting same. If not, Week 14 AHL Power Rankings will hit the blog Monday back on their regular time Monday at 4.