After last nights nightmare, where you had the captain of the team telling the media that he didn’t get the group fired enough to play against a team in last place and the coach basically deflecting all blame and placing it on the players, you really didn’t know how tonight’s game against a Lehigh Valley team on a tear would go.
So of course it’s a blowout by the Penguins and everything is made up and the points don’t matter.
Penguins roll tonight 7-3.
It was a feisty, testy affair. The Penguins clearly came to the rink tonight pissed off at themselves at the embarrassment from the night before in Hershey. There were 110 penalty minutes. Wilkes-Barre played with aggression all night, maintained their composure when they went down a goal in the second period, got inspired efforts from the likes of Jimmy Hayes and solid goaltending from Tristan Jarry and crush one of their biggest rivals on their home ice.
Jimmy Hayes had his best game as a Penguin tonight. Clark Donatelli put him on a line with the gritty Joseph Cramarossa and the speedy J-S Dea. It worked. Hayes had a goal and an assist and a team leading four shots on goal.
The seven goals put up by the Penguins was the most goals scored in a game all season.
Tristan Jarry opposed Alex Lyon.
Lineup Notes: Pat McGrath and Troy Josephs were in ups front for Linus Ölund and Ryan Haggerty and Kevin Spinozzi yielded to Jeff Taylor.
Tristan Jarry was ill last night, and I really was expecting John Muse to go tonight but it was Jarry that got the start.
First Period: Very chippy period on both sides. After this fight between Anthony Angello and Philip Samuelsson…
…Garrett Wilson and Tyrell Goulbourne fought in a secondary altercation. You can’t do that, so both players were given game misconducts and thrown out of the game.
The Cramarossa – Dea – Hayes line in one shift created two shots, hit and created turnovers. A good sequence to see.
Wilkes-Barre killed the only penalty of the period successfully. Shots were 10-9 Penguins.
Second Period: Penguins found themselves in early penalty trouble and Greg Carey made them pay with this goal on the power play.
Looked like it beat Jarry over the glove. A well placed shot, nonetheless.
But then the Penguins would score twice very quickly as Ben Sexton struck for his third goal of the week, all coming against the Phantoms with this goal that tied the game.
Face-off, shot, Adam Johnson there for the follow-up who finds Sexton on the doorstep for the cleanup.
Then, Jimmy Hayes broke in and scored his first goal since November 14 at Springfield.
Horrific turnover by T.J. Brennan there gift wrapping a breakaway chance for Hayes who finished.
Penguins would finally get a crack on the power play and would waste no time in scoring to extend their lead over the Phantoms to 3-1 on this Teddy Blueger redirect that was initially shot by J-S Dea.
Penguins outshot the Phantoms 15-10 in the period despite giving up two power plays to the Phantoms.
Third Period: Here is your turning point of the game.
Flurry of saves by Tristan Jarry, then minutes later Adam Johnson scores on a breakaway that makes it 4-1 Wilkes-Barre.
Whatever momentum that the Phantoms wanted to build coming out for the third was squelched by the Jarry saves and then the Johnson goal, which stood up as the game winner tonight.
Teddy Blueger scored his second of the game that made it 5-1 right at the half way point of the third.
Reece Willcox scored on a rebound of a shot that Jarry couldn’t cover entirely that made it 5-2.
Phantoms head coach Kerry Huffman pulled Alex Lyon and Ben Sexton hit the empty net which made it 6-2.
T.J. Brennan scored off of a face-off that made it 6-3.
Huffman pulled Lyon again and Chad Ruhwedel, almost by mistake, scored from 180′ away when he flipped a puck out of his own end that found the empty net that made it 7-3.
No GIFs on these, sorry.
Late, Joseph Cramarossa was given an instigating penalty as the game was devolving into a slugfest. Unless it’s rescinded (they never are) he will be suspended for Monday’s game in Binghamton.
The Good: Jimmy Hayes. One game doesn’t define a season, but Hayes finally put it all together tonight and helped set the tone for the road team in an impressive win against a rival. Hopefully, a veteran like Hayes uses a night like this as something he can build off of. I guess we will see Monday in Binghamton.
The Bad: Nitpicking, but another power play goal against is a small blemish on a bright night for the Penguins.
Around the Division: Charlotte beats Laval 5-4 in overtime, Bridgeport does the same to Hartford 3-2, Providence beats Hershey 4-1 and Syracuse beats Springfield 4-3 in overtime.
Standings: Charlotte 50 — Bridgeport 47 — Lehigh Valley 41 — Penguins 37 — Springfield 36 — Providence 33 — Hartford 32 — Hershey 28
Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off.
Pens are off Sunday. Springfield travels to Hartford burning off one of their three games in hand on the Penguins. That’s a game you should pay attention to Sunday afternoon if you aren’t doing anything.
Penguins are back in action Monday at 6 p.m. in Binghamton for New Years Eve. Check out the Gameday setup here on the blog Monday at 2.
Let’s Go Pens!