Johnny Muse was better.
In two previous starts for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins, the running theme for John Muse when he started a game was that he deserved better. Last Friday in Rochester, a 1-0 Penguins defeat where Muse was the goaltender, he deserved better.
Well tonight, a 32 save shutout performance against a tough Cleveland Monsters team, John Muse was better. Penguins get a power play goal from Ryan Haggerty in the second period and that is all the offense needed to get the first home win for Wilkes-Barre in over a month. Pens win 1-0.
And man, it felt good.
Muse opposed J-F Berube who by his own right was outstanding.
Ryan Scarfo made his Penguin debut. I didn’t notice much of him in the third (he was on the bench) but what I did see was pretty much all positive. He knocked a guy over and created a turnover on one shift. He was OK.
Clark Donatelli shook up his defense pairings, separating Ethan Prow and Kevin Czuczman. It worked. Czuczman was paired with Will O’Neill and that pairing was on the ice a lot and looked good. Actually every pairing from Summers and the rookie Taylor to Abt and Prow looked decent.
J-S Dea was recalled to Pittsburgh because Dominik Simon was put on injured reserve Friday afternoon.
No scoring in the first, Penguins had the only power play in the period. Shots were 10-5 Cleveland.
In the second, Pens broke through on a power play goal by Ryan Haggerty who finally broke through on the goal scoring column after having a goal scored a few weeks ago be taken away from him and awarded to someone else.
Kevin Czuzman flew the zone, danced around a few defenders, spun around the net, put a shot on and collected his rebound and then dished to Will O’Neill who one timed a pass over to Haggerty who finished and gave the Penguins the lead.
In the third, Cleveland outshot the Penguins 12-2, this was with the Penguins getting a power play, but John Muse stopped all twelve offerings sent his way.
Muse rarely, if ever, gives up rebounds. Everything sticks.
Cleveland called time out with about 2:30 left and pulled Berube but were never able to find the equalizer.
The Good: Good win against a tough opponent in Cleveland. The Monsters are second in a tough North Division, but sometimes styles make fights. The Penguins are 3-0 against Cleveland this season. John Muse should get the start tomorrow afternoon against Cleveland, but due to the quick turnaround and a 3:05 start against Bridgeport, Anthony Peters may get the nod instead.
Tyler confirmed my suspicion.
The Bad: Hard to nitpick, but 12-2 shots against in the third is a troubling statistic. All it would have took was one for a tie then who knows what happens after that. The Penguins played really conservative tonight, using eleven players on one penalty kill at one point. The cautious approach worked tonight against Cleveland, how does it work going forward? Again, I may be nitpicking.
Around the Division: Decent setup, actually. Springfield loses 5-2 in Utica, Hershey is shutout in Allentown 1-0 behind Carter Hart’s 26 save shutout, Rochester beats Providence 2-1 which ends the Bruins eight game point streak, Charlotte trounces Hartford 7-4 in the Connecticut capital. Bridgeport was the only idle team tonight, likely already in town for Saturday’s afternoon start.
Standings: Charlotte 37 — Bridgeport 32 — Lehigh Valley 30 — Springfield 27 — Providence 26 — Hartford 25 — Penguins 24 — Hershey 21
Wheeling Update: Taylor had another good recap of the proceedings in the ECHL.
Here is your box.
Video Highlights: Are here.
Pens are back in action at home Saturday at 3 against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The Wilkes University Colonels are playing immediately after the game, in case you are wondering why the odd start. Gameday setup is yours Saturday morning at 11 am.
Let’s Go Pens!