If I told you Thursday that the Penguins would split with the Charlotte Checkers, would you have taken it?
Don’t lie, you probably would. I would have.
But, after Wilkes-Barre dominated the AHL’s best team on Friday beating them 5-1 and making no lineup changes Saturday, Penguins fans were hoping for a clean sweep.
But Charlotte isn’t the best team in the AHL by dumb luck. A first period where the Checkers players figuratively returned to the parking lot and drove their automobiles onto the ice and ran over the Penguins skaters, out scoring the Penguins 3-0 and outshooting them 14-3, it was too big of a hole for Wilkes-Barre to dig out of.
But they did make it interesting, cutting the deficit to one on two occasions, but ultimately fall 5-3 in Charlotte and earn a split with the Checkers.
Tristan Jarry opposed Alex Nedeljkovic.
…essentially unchanged from Friday night.
First Period: The Penguins were freight trained in the period. Charlotte scored as many goals as WIlkes-Barre had shots.
Julian Gauthier at the high slot at 1:14 put the Checkers on the board early, then about three and a half minutes later Morgan Geekie went unmarked and floated to the high slot and ripped one and scored to make it 2-0.
Charlotte would add a third on a power play which took all of seven seconds. A face off win, a soft shot off the pads of Jarry to Zach Nastasiuk who swept the puck across the line to make it 3-0 for Charlotte.
Here are all three goals in one tweet:
It was a bad period for the Penguins, to say the least. They had this one sequence I am about to show you that summed up their period.
In on a two on one, they get chased down by Haydn Fleury and don’t get a shot or pass off. It was Anthony Angello with Cam Brown in on a two on one when Fleury just erased the play entirely.
Wilkes-Barre was outshot 14-3 in the period. Not good.
Second Period: Much better period by the Penguins in contrast to the first, but down 3-0 to an offensively explosive team in Charlotte meant that you need to capitalize on your chances when you can quickly.
Wilkes-Barre had a 4:00 power play off the hop that they didn’t score on but they did get several good looks on.
Then Cam Brown brought the Penguins on the board when a shot off the post by Anthony Angello was put in by Brown for his first as a Penguin.
Then the Penguins capitalized on a power play when Ethan Prow scored to bring Wilkes-Barre back to within one.
But then a bad pinch by Matt Abt put the Checkers on a break that became a scramble that was just too much to recover from. Nicolas Roy made it a two goal game.
Momentum with the Penguins, a whole other period to play, and Abt pinches and puts his team in a bit of a hole going into the…
Third Period: Penguins got nabbed with a too many men on the ice penalty that they were able to negotiate out of okay but when you need to score goals with time your enemy, taking penalties is not a recipe for success.
Cam Brown was stopped on one of Alex Nedeljkovic’s better saves of the night.
Jeff Taylor got the Penguins to within one with this goal here with under ten minutes to play.
Wilkes-Barre would continue to buzz and roll, hit another post but with time winding down Clark Donatelli would call time out and with Jarry pulled, Nicolas Roy intercepted a Penguin breakout and hit the empty net to ice the game away.
The Good: No quit in the team who were the better side in the second half of the contest. I like Cam Brown on the top line, he was one of the better players for WIlkes-Barre tonight.
The Bad: This one is a layup. The Penguins will want that first twenty minutes back.
Three Stars: 3) Zach Nastasiuk (goal) 2) Nicolas Roy (two goals, assist) and 1) Julian Gauthier (goal, two assists)
Around the Division: Good night, overall. Bridgeport loses at home to Hartford 4-2. Hershey finally beats Lehigh Valley in Allentown via an Ilya Samsonov shutout 3-0. Providence beats Springfield 4-3.
Setting up Your Sunday: Three games in the AHL, and two of them involve Atlantic Division teams. Home and home rematches of Hershey and Lehigh Valley and Providence in Springfield. You want a Bears win and the Providence / Springfield game to finish in regulation.
Standings: Charlotte 59 — Bridgepor 50 — Lehigh Valley 43 — Penguins 43 — Springfield 42 — Providence 41 — Hartford 40 — Hershey 34
Box here. The Indy Fuel were the opponent.
Video Highlights: If one of the teams puts them up, I will edit them in here when the other games go final.
Pens will fly home Sunday, probably have a few days off before a Friday home date against Rochester. News and other stuff as it comes here on the blog. If not, check out my Power Rankings Thursday morning.
Let’s Go Pens!