In stark contrast to last Friday around this time, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins put up and displayed a fight to them all night against the Grand Rapids Griffins from the Central Division.
The Griffins will bury you offensively if you let them. Any team will, really but not many are as stacked as Grand Rapids is. Chris Terry leads the AHL in goals scored. Turner Elson or Carter Camper is usually there setting him up for all that success. They are a deep team and a team that had points in five straight games coming in.
Make it six, but just an overtime point as the Penguins take down the Griffins in a shootout, 3-2. It was a classic knockdown, drag out game from the jump. The teams started out nice to each other then the competitive juices started flowing and they hated each other at the end of the night. And Terry, Elson and Camper had company in the forms of Ryan Haggerty (two goals) Joseph Cramarossa (shootout goal and one of his finer performances) and Teddy Blueger.
It’s two teams that you wish would play more, because it was a game that brought the best out of both sides.
Tristan Jarry opposed Patrik Rybar.
Lineup Notes: Garrett Wilson serves the first of his two game suspension, Ryan Haggerty went to the top line with Blueger and Angello. Joseph Cramarossa returned from his one game suspension and took Ryan Haggerty’s third line spot with Jimmy Hayes and J-S Dea. Jarrett Burton went in for Linus Ölund on the third line. Jeff Taylor yielded to Tim Erixon on defense.
First Period: The Penguins got the game started off on the right foot just :17 when Ryan Haggerty deflected a shot from the point that put the Penguins ahead 1-0.
Grand Rapids would counter and Matt Ford snapped in a shot off of a face-off play that made it 1-1.
That’s Wade Megan on the face-off win. You won’t see it in the clip above, but Megan gave Ford a look seconds before as if they knew what was up.
Second Period: Griffins go for a clear that doesn’t make it past center ice and Ryan Haggerty collects and skates in and snaps a shot from in between the circles to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead.
Have to wonder if Grand Rapids played more regular games in Wilkes-Barre and the players were more familiar with the building that clear goes further and the completion of the game changes entirely.
Griffins answer a few minutes later when Libor Sulak puts a shot on net that caroms off Jarry to the stick of Turner Elson for a goal that made it 2-2.
Jarry, pretty sharp all evening, was dull on that sequence. I think he lost sight of the puck.
The Penguins had a chance to get ahead when Dylan McIlrath was tagged for concurrent penalties which gave the Penguins a 4:00 power play. They buried the Griffins in their zone for a good three minutes, had a guy break a stick but the Griffins held the fort and killed the entire four minutes. A hell of a kill that could have swung momentum in their favor heading into the third.
Third Period: The Penguins took three penalties in the period, and their penalty kill held firm. Grand Rapids outshot the Penguins 9-4 in the period and overall dominated chances. But they didn’t finish.
Overtime: Thrill a minute. Adam Johnson had a pair of breakaways. Sam Lafferty had one which was sprung by a hand pass from Tristan Jarry.
But no dice in overtime. You would have loved to see the teams just play another period and keep playing until a winner was decided.
Maybe someday, like an early June summer. For now, it was off to the shootout.
Shootout: Joseph Cramarossa scored in the bottom of the third using his move that won it for the Penguins a few weeks back in Hershey in the bottom of the ninth.
Jarry stopped Chris Terry, Axel Holmstrom and Dominic Turgeon. Rybar stopped Adam Johnson and J-S Dea before succumbing to Haggerty.
Around the Division: Great night for the Penguins overall. Of course Charlotte wins with a man short in Belleville 4-1. Bridgeport loses in Syracuse 3-1, just third time in two months the Sound Tigers have gone without a win….Providence beats Lehigh Valley 4-2…Hartford beats Springfield 3-1. Hershey was off.
Standings: Charlotte 53 — Bridgeport 48 — Lehigh Valley 41 — Penguins 41 — Springfield 37 — Hartford 36 — Providence 35 — Hershey 30
Wheeling Update: The Nailers were beaten in Indianapolis tonight 3-2 by the Indy Fuel. Renars Krastenbergs scored for the Nailers in the loss.
Pens are back in action Saturday against the Milwaukee Admirals, who were idol tonight. Gameday setup hits the blog Saturday at 3.
Let’s Go Pens!