The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins came into Sunday afternoon winless so far on the season on the day the Lord rested.
Going down 4-1 at one point to their blood rival in Hershey, thoughts of last weekend’s debacle in Toronto started to creep into the minds of Penguins fans.
But a mix of the same tenacity that saw Wilkes-Barre shutout Cleveland on Friday and blitzkrieg Bridgeport on Saturday get the Penguins back into contention and they storm back to make it 4-3 at the end of the second period.
A quick moving third period where time melted off the clock like a snowman in June.
Until the Penguins best player stepped up and ensured that overtime would become a necessity.
Ethan Prow, a stone cold lock for Springfield in January at All-Stars, stepped into a shot with under a minute left and the game was tied.
Overtime would come and go and the Penguins even had to kill a penalty, then after nine cool saves in the shootout round from Johnny Muse, Joseph Cramarossa would score to give the Penguins the stunning 5-4 shootout win over the Hershey Bears.
Ethan Prow had a chance in the bottom of the sixth to win it, that would have been magical.
A perfect six point weekend for Wilkes-Barre / Scranton. A shutout Friday, a come from behind win Saturday against Bridgeport and a come from behind from multiple goals down Sunday at the end of a three in three on the road against the Bears.
Are the Penguins back? Certainly seems like it, but one weekend does not a season make. We all know that the Penguins are good and have not played up to their potential in the weeks coming into this past weekend. Now, going forward the Penguins have shown the ability that they can indeed win in all different forms.
John Muse opposed Vitek Vanecek.
…once again unchanged from Saturday and Friday.
First Period: The Penguins weren’t able to capitalize on turnovers by the Bears, and Hershey struck twice to carry a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. Jayson Megna, who always seems to score against the Penguins this season, opened the scoring.
Then Hershey cashed on a power play when Riley Barber found himself fin the slot, Chris Summers backed off and while doing so, sent an unintentional screen on his goaltender. Barber then snapped a shot in between Summers’ legs and beat Muse five hole.
Bounces. The Bears had them, the Penguins didn’t.
Second Period: The Penguins would finally solve Vanecek after a power play expired as Kevin Czuczman’s shot deflects off in front of Liam O’Brien and goes in and it’s a 2-1 game.
But Liam O’Brien would exact an ounce of revenge finishing this play off of a nice pass by Steven Whitney on a Bears odd man. The only time Muse would get beat clean this weekend.
:52 later, Tyler Lewington wheels around the net and banks a shot off of Muse and in for a 4-1 Bears lead.
But instead of pack it in, Wilkes-Barre played lock it down.
Teddy Blueger got the deficit back to two with this nice play in front of Vanecek that made it a two goal game again.
Okay, good. Get to the intermission down two and see what happens from there, right?
Wrong. Thomas DiPauli scores with five seconds left and the entire complexion of the game changes.
Third Period: It really would have been a shame if the Penguins didn’t win the game, because the way they played the third, it seemed like it wasn’t if the Pens would score, it was when.
Wilkes-Barre outshoots Hershey 11-4 in the period. They locked things down and didn’t allow Hershey any more good looks.
Jarrett Burton took a hard hit into the boards, went to the room and returned. The Pens also had to kill a Prow tripping penalty.
Then, with Muse vacated for the extra attacker and after a Wilkes-Barre time out, Adam Johnson collected the puck in his own zone, flew the neutral zone and entered the zone ands dished to Teddy Blueger who dropped to Prow for the tying goal.
Overtime: Solved nothing. The Bears would get a power play, called time out, but weren’t able to score.
Shootout: No one scored till the bottom of the ninth when Joe Cramarossa stepped up
to the plate
Here is the entire overtime and shootout round Periscoped for you by yours truly if you have 16:29 to kill.
Three Stars: 3) Joe Cramarossa (shootout game winner) 2) Teddy Blueger (goal, two assists) 1) Jayson Megna (goal)
The Good: I liked the tenacity from the team. Not just tonight, but the entire weekend. You could tell about half way through Friday that they were not going to let Cleveland beat them. Same for Bridgeport on Saturday after letting off at the end of the first period. I think they had enough losing and were starting to hear it at home, at the rink and in the media. It’s hard to win games in the American Hockey League. It’s even harder to win three in a row in three days. The Penguins accomplished that and have to feel good about themselves heading into Wednesday in Springfield.
The Bad: The lapses are still there. It’s nitpicking here on a Sunday evening after the team won three straight, but the lapses are evident. There was no way that the Penguins should have gone down 4-1 like they did. It was good that it happened in the second period and not any later, because it could have been a totally different result.
One More Thing: John Muse was as cool as a cucumber in the shootout. I think Head Coach Clark Donatelli was looking for either Muse or Anthony Peters to take the reins as the starter this weekend. I don’t think he has his answer to be honest with you. Also, if you tuned into the game today you heard Scott Stuccio on color. He adds so much more to the broadcast in that position just by his observances in the game flow and an extra set of eyes for Nick Hart on play by play. He’s prepared, knows what he is talking about and Wilkes-Barre should try to get him on more broadcasts as his schedule allows. It’s already a good broadcast with Nick Hart, it’s better with both Nick and Scott calling the action.
Around the Division: Only other team in action was Springfield, at home hosting the Binghamton Devils. Thunderbirds win 5-1.
Standings: Charlotte 39 — Bridgeport 32 — Springfield 30 — Lehigh Valley 30 — Penguins 28 — Providence 26 — Hartford 25 — Hershey 24
Wheeling Update: Nailers beat the Indy Fuel 5-1. Nick Saracino had two goals and three assists and factored into every goal. Trucksville native Craig Skudalski had a goal, his first as a Nailer:
Pens are in action Wednesday night in Springfield. If there is anything newsworthy between now and then look for it here on the blog. Otherwise, have a good week and we will see you here again at 3 p.m. for the Gameday setup against the Thunderbirds.
Let’s Go Pens!