I guess the lesson here tonight is be careful what you wish for.
If the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins somehow overtake the Lehigh Valley Phantoms for the number one spot in the Atlantic Division, they will most likely play the Charlotte Checkers in Round One of the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Right now, I don’t like the Penguins chances if that were to become a reality.
Wilkes-Barre loses 3-1. A lifeless effort tonight for the Penguins who only had 8 shots on goal throughout two periods. This game obviously meant more for the Checkers, being pursued by fifth place Bridgeport, than it did the Penguins.
Alex Nedeljkovic won his 28th game of the season which leads all AHL goaltenders, he opposed Anthony Peters in a rematch of last night.
Lines were the same as last night save for Jarrett Burton for Sam Lafferty on the third line. Josh Jooris was re-assigned by Pittsburgh Wednesday afternoon. Jooris was not in the lineup for Wilkes-Barre tonight. Etienne Marcoux again backed up Anthony Peters while the status of Michael Leighton remains a mystery.
First Period: But for :26 of 5-on-3 penalty kill time that came and went for the Penguins, it was an overall fast pace of a period. Wilkes-Barre was out shot 9-5. J-S Dea hit a post in the early stages, Jarred Tinordi had a clear in the early seconds of the 5-on-3 against and Charlotte was never able to establish anything threatening while on the man advantage.
Second Period: Wilkes-Barre looked lethargic in the first period and continued in the second period, firing just three shots at Nedeljkovic, tied for a season low.
Charlotte jumped out to a two goal lead as a result of keeping their feet moving as their opponents were content with watching instead of competing.
Julien Gauthier, scratched last night, scored first for Charlotte to open the scoring…
That is three Penguins defenders around Gauthier and he still manages to get his shot off.
On a power play, ex-Penguin Greg McKegg scored on a tic tac toe play in front while Chris Summers was out in left field daydreaming…
Gotta mark the man in front.
A puck went out of play in front on Nedeljkovic and the Penguins then tried to get something going with the physicality. Everyone grabbed a man and pushing and shoving ensued. The Penguins sleepwalked through the first two periods and needed something, anything to get them going…
Third Period: Penguins started to chase the game and the worst thing that could happen would be a power play. Chasing a game late caused Wilkes-Barre to play fast and loose and the Checkers easily killed the penalty.
But the Penguins were able to get to within one when Tom Sestito put home a rebound of a Daniel Spring shot that made it a one goal game.
Another power play came and went for the Penguins in a golden opportunity missed for Wilkes-Barre. The lack of success on the power play is going to bury this team.
Wilkes-Barre continued to press, made mistakes in their own end and Greg McKegg scored a second goal against his former team.
I’d say so.
Penguins ice the puck with Peters pulled for the extra attacker and then were called for too many men while again trying to get Peters off.
Ethan Prow may have been injured here in this sequence with Josiah Didier.
Dirty hit. Didier was assessed a charging penalty for what it is worth.
Three Stars: 3) Tom Sestito (goal, even) 2) Juian Gauthier (goal, +1) and 1) Greg McKegg (two goals, even)
Around the Division: For the second night in a row, they all watched us.
Standings: Lehigh Valley (.690 percentage points) — Penguins (.650) — Providence (.631) — Charlotte (.586) — Bridgeport (.557) — Springfield (.492) — Hartford (.476) — Hershey (.468)
Wheeling Update: Nailers were off.
Charlotte didn’t put up any highlights last night when they lost, I wonder if they will now that they won. If they do, I will work the edit in this spot.
Pens travel back from North Carolina and are scheduled to practice Friday. I would assume that there would be information on Prow, Leighton and anyone else for the two home games against Hartford Saturday and Hershey Sunday.
Next blog post here will most likely be Saturday’s setup with Hartford at 3. I may run a recap of the Friday games with any information shared after Friday’s practice late Friday night depending on circumstances.
Let’s Go Pens!