The Penguins knew coming into tonight that with the earlier result in the morning between Bridgeport and Providence that they could not clinch a playoff spot. The Bruins would have had to have beaten the Sound Tigers in order for the Penguins magic number to reduce on it’s own. That did not happen, so the best the Penguins could do was handle things on their own and reduce their magic number themselves without having to rely on outside factors out of their control.
Success. A 5-3 Penguins win over the Hershey Bears in a game that was as close as the scoreline would indicate. But the Penguins, who jumped out to a 4-1 lead, relied on Tristan Jarry and the used time against Hershey to reduce the magic number to clinch a playoff spot to just one point.
Conceivably, they can accomplish that Friday at home against Bridgeport. But that’s a story for another day.
Lazy legging lines tonight again. Thank heavens this is the last regular season home game of the season. Anyway, here are the lines tonight:
First Period: Pens took a 2-1 lead here. A spin around shot from Teddy Blueger in the first minute of the game put the Penguins on the board first and early. Garrett Wilson scored from the slot that reestablished the one goal lead for the Pens.
Connor Hobbs scored for the Bears at the expiration of a Hershey power play that made it 1-1. Both goals given up by Pheonix Copley I felt should have been saved.
Second Period: Troy Mann must have shared the same sentiment as after Sam Lafferty scored his first as a professional, Mann changed goalies. Enter Vitek Vanecek. The feeling was that his Bears club was still in the game to an extent.
I’d agree with Mann here. Slight problem though, no matter what the Bears were throwing at Tristan Jarry, the Penguins netminder was straight up stifling the would be rally.
Chris Bourque playing in his 600th game for the Bears bore down on a breakaway. This was met with a cool, calm glove save by Jarry.
Colby Williams was robbed on a shot that got past Jarry, but died at the line and was swept away by the Penguins net minder.
You could have shot a cannonball at Jarry in the second period and he would have stopped it.
Third Period: Penguins score on a power play goal. Hold on, let me type that again. New paragraph, too.
Penguins score on a power play goal when Daniel Sprong’s initial shot is blocked by Tyler Lewington and goes right back to the Pens rookie. He regathers and shoots again and it goes in to make it 4-1 Wilkes-Barre.
Bears get one back with a nifty play. Neutral zone faceoff win win back to defender or in this case Chris Bourque, looks like he’s going to slam it in, instead passes to center point for a drive and dish to Anthony Peluso for an easy tap in which made it 4-2.
Hershey pulled to within one with Vanecek out on a 6-on-4 power play. Jarry made a boatload of saves but was unable to stop the rapid fire of shots put his way with bodies all over the place. Mathias Bau finally slammed the puck in to make things a bit too close for comfort with under five minutes remaining.
It’s never easy. Andrey Pedan was tagged for closing his hand on the puck with a minute left. Bears never got setup to sustain a threat and J-S Dea hit an empty net with a second left to make it 5-3 to ice the game away.
Three Stars: 3) Adam Johnson (two assists, +1) 2) Sam Lafferty (first pro goal, +1) 1) Daniel Sprong (goal, assist, -1)
Around the Division: Bridgeport beat Providence 3-2 in a school day game against the Bruins earlier today. As a result, the Penguins were not able to clinch a playoff spot today not matter the outcome with Hershey. Lehigh Valley was in Charlotte for a possible first round playoff match up and lost 3-1. Box here. Everyone else was off.
Standings: Lehigh Valley (.683 percentage points) — Penguins (.643) — Providence (.621) — Charlotte (.606) — Bridgeport (.557) — Hartford (.500) — Hershey (.465) — Springfield (.464)
Wheeling Update: Nailers were off.
But for anything else breaking the rest of the week, check me out again Friday for the Gameday setup against the Sound Tigers.
Let’s Go Pens!