The keys to the game I gave you last night in Game 1 were as follows in bullet point. What follows in parenthesis was the result tonight in Game 2.
- Stay out of the penalty box. (The Penguins took two penalties. They were both in the third period.)
- Maintain your composure. (The Penguins took no after whistle penalties and there were no pull apart would be brawls.)
- Limit mistakes. (In what was seemingly relentless pressure, the Penguins didn’t make many mistakes that cost them goals when the game mattered.)
So why did the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins lose the game 4-1 and now face must win Games 3, 4 and 5 back at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza next week?
In a close game, like this game in particular was, one play against you costs you. Josiah Didier’s shot through traffic with 5:42 left in the third period was the match on a dry pile of leaves that ignited two empty net goals for the Checkers with the Penguins were in desperation mode.
The Penguins had three opportunities to score on the power play tonight; one in the first after Charlotte had tied it at one, one in the second when the Checkers were coming in droves and one in the third when the Checkers had just scored to go up 2-1.
It usually takes a well rounded team to win a Calder Cup. The Penguins are a tough team that are hard to play against, but the power play is a joke and it cannot come through when it matters the most. In a close game against two evenly matched teams, it’s one bounce (last night in overtime and tonight through traffic) that has the Charlotte Checkers one game away from sweeping and eliminating the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins from the Calder Cup Playoffs.
They have done it before, down 0-3 to Providence a few years ago, the Penguins came back to win four straight to stun the Bruins. They need three against a Checkers team that is, in parts, a mirror image of the players skating with a muscular penguin on skates in front of an upside down yellow triangle.
But that team back in 2013 was a well rounded team that stunned a Providence team that fell apart at the sign of disparity and, once realized they were beat, withered away and that Penguins postseason team mounted a historic comeback. This version of Penguins postseason can’t score a power play or even enter the zone from the neutral zone, when they need it for their playoff lives.
Garrett Wilson – J-S Dea – Daniel Sprong
Adam Johnson – Gage Quinney – Ryan Haggerty
Joseph Cramarossa – Jarrett Burton – Josh Jooris
Anthony Angello – Teddy Blueger – Tom Kostopoulos
Chris Summers – Kevin Czuczman
Andrey Pedan – Lukas Bengtsson
Jarred Tinordi – Zach Trotman
Tristan Jarry – Alex Nedeljkovic
Lineup Notes: Jarrett Burton and Anthony Angello were in for Tom Sestito and Christian Thomas. Donatelli said pregame that Burton is good on the kill and Angello is a big guy whose size they want to use.
Here was Charlotte’s lineup, I was going to add this new feature and debut it last night, but wasn’t able to because I was called away…
No changes from Game 1 for Charlotte.
First Period: Penguins wasted little time in establishing a lead, taking just :22 seconds for Joseph Cramarossa to score his first of the playoffs with this goal…
Penguins had two chances burning Checkers defenseman Trevor Carrick tries by Anthony Angelo and Adam Johnson by Nedeljkovic, who struggled with the first shot he saw in Game 2, locked it down the rest of the period for his side.
Charlotte is a quick team, so all of the icing that they were doing of the puck early on wasn’t helping them. But they finally figured the clearances out and through a relentless forecheck, finally solved Jarry when defenseman Haydn Fleury banked a shot off of Jarry that went in…
Jarry was stopping what he was seeing, including this two on one chance that the Checkers had…
Wilkes-Barre had the only power play of the period and that was a total mess. They failed to crack through the zone to get anything of value set up.
Second Period: Charlotte was coming with each shift with aplomb but Jarry kept closing the door. The Penguins were then awarded a power play and didn’t do anything with it and in fact allowed Warren Foegele to get a shorthanded opportunity that Jarry denied.
Penguins had a good chance to re-take the lead when Teddy Blueger stripped Nedeljkovic when the Charlotte goaltender went out of his net to play the puck. Blueger passed to Tom Kostopoulos who fanned on the shot on what would have been on the open net.
Third Period: The Penguins lost Jarred Tinordi to and injury and Kevin Czucaman played most of the third with one arm. Penguins killed two Charlotte penalties with relative ease. Penguins hit a post shorthanded.
Then Josiah Didier scored on a seeing eye shot through a screened Jarry that gave the Checkers the lead…
Daniel Sprong was stopped point blank by Nedeljkovic right after. Then the Penguins were gifted a power play with the game on the line.
They failed to score. Immediately, Tristan Jarry came off for the extra attacker and as soon as that happened, the Checkers scored on the empty net to make it 3-1. They then made it 4-1 after another Wilkes-BArre attempt at the extra man.
Three Stars: 3) Joseph Cramarossa (goal, -1) 2) Josiah Didier (game winning goal, +3) and 2) Haydn Fleury (two goals, +4)
Clark Bishop scored the other empty net goal if you are scoring from home.
So where do we go from here?
Gameplan needs to remain the same. Stay out of the box, limit mistakes, maintain composure. Add, score a power play goal to that, although I mentioned that in my series preview so just add more emphasis to that last one.
Keep the faith.
Let’s Go Pens!