I think everyone knows that the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins and Providence Bruins are destined for another date in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs.
Head Coach Jay Leach rolled out Zane McIntyre as his Providence Bruins hit the ice for warmups. McIntyre is undefeated in regulation against the Penguins coming into Wednesday’s action. 2-0-2 with a minuscule GAA and save percentage.
McIntyre looked pedestrian, Penguins looked sharp. The results followed. A 5-2 Wilkes-Barre win over the Providence Bruins.
I stop short at saying it’s a statement game. After all, Providence dressed 10 rookies tonight. It seems the Bruins bring the best out of the Penguins and vice versa. But the Penguins needed a better effort after the terrible game against Bridgeport Sunday and got one in a big way with a lot on the line. We will see what the result brings on Saturday night when these two teams rematch.
Lazy legging lines tonight cause it’s a work night and even though I took Thursday off, it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want to.
Michael Leighton backed up Tristan Jarry. Sam Lafferty was the only lineup change from Sunday, replacing Gage Quinney, who is day to day with an upper body injury and won’t play this weekend.
First Period: Better start in contrast to Sunday for Wilkes-Barre. Passes were on the mark, legs were moving, et cetera. Penguins missed on their only power play of the period and had a few good shorthanded chances.
However, Providence took a 1-0 lead to intermission on a shot from Jakub Zboril which may or may not have been tipped in the final minute of the period.
Shots were 14-10 Penguins after the first. A good period, despite the score.
Second Period: Penguins score three straight goals on McIntyre to take a quick 3-1 lead.
Daniel Sprong threw a nothing turnaround, backhanded shot at McIntyre that went in. Sprong followed it up about three minutes later in front via the five hole that made it 2-1.
Later, Joseph Cramarossa pounced on a turnover and wired a shot over the glove of McIntyre that made it 3-1.
But the Providence goaltender and his defense settled in and, coupled with the fact that the Penguins were again giving away penalties like candy on Halloween, Providence edged to back within one.
That didn’t come on a power play, but Anton Blidh put one over the glove of Jarry that dug the Bruins out of the hole they were in, slightly.
Third Period: Penalty trouble continued for the Penguins, but they managed to not allow another Bruins power play goal.
Teddy Blueger raced up ice and flipped a shot past McIntyre to give the Penguins a two goal lead and some breathing room as Providence was bearing down on every shift.
Time quickly became the enemy of Providence and with McIntyre pulled Jarred Tinordi hit the empty net from center ice to make it 5-2.
Three Stars: 3) Joseph Cramarossa (goal, even) 2) Garrett Wilson (assist, +1) and 1) Daniel Sprong (two goals, +1)
Around the Division: Two other games in the Atlantic. Bridgeport hosted Hershey and won 6-4… Hartford hosted Springfield and won 4-3 in a shootout.
Magic Number: Will be 7 with Bridgeport winning.
Standings: Lehigh Valley (.684 percentage points) — Penguins (.642) — Providence (.634) — Charlotte .596 — Bridgeport (.552) — Hartford (.507) — Hershey (.471) — Springfield (.463)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off.
Penguins leave for Hartford tomorrow. But for anything of substance, check me out again Friday at 3 for your Gameday setup.
Let’s Go Pens!