Another microcosm of the season as the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins and Utica Comets play to a first period deadlock, then Utica scores in the final minute of the second and again in the opening stages of the third before the Penguins bounce back and score two to tie, with the the tying goal coming in the final minute of regulation. Cam Darcy’s goal in overtime seals it for Utica, and the Penguins fall 3-2.
I don’t think there was anything special that the Comets did that the Penguins didn’t. Everyone had to work for a goal tonight. They went like this:
— A tired group of Penguins gets caught on the ice when linesman Luke Murray rules that Joseph Blandisi did not beat out an icing call, thus trapping Wilkes-Barre out late. Wacey Hamilton wins a face-off back to Brendan Woods and the Comets go up at 19:24 of the second period.
— Vincent Arseneau puts home a juicy rebound left by Tristan Jarry off a shot initially stopped from the point and it’s 2-0 Utica at 2:15 of the third period.
— J-S Dea wins a face-off back to Sam Miletic and the Pens get on the board at 5:46.
— Ryan Haggerty sweeps the tying goal across the line on a power play in the final minute of the game at 19:17 with Tristan Jarry pulled for the extra attacker.
Nifty passing sees Cam Darcy get free and he scores on Jarry in overtime to give the Comets the extra point.
Is it a game where a player like Teddy Blueger would have had an impact? I think so, but he’s up in Pittsburgh and you have to play the cards you’re dealt.
Utica only had 23 shots tonight. The Penguins had 37. I think it was a mixture of lack of a true finisher and the fact that Utica rolled out future hall of famer Michael Leighton in goal. Leighton stopped 35 of 37 and some of his saves were highlight reel. If the Comets are looking for a hero, they found them in Michael Leighton. He down right stole the game for the Comets tonight.
The Penguins are running out of time in looking to be serious contenders in the playoff race. Yes, it’s February, but if you start March ten points back, it’s a tough hole to dig out of and you are looking at three other games on the scoreboard looking for things to break your way.
Gap is now four points to fifth place Hershey and five to fourth place Lehigh Valley. The Phantoms played Friday while the Pens and Bears were off. They won in overtime to Bridgeport at home. Saturday, they played the Bears in Hershey and lost in a shootout. That’s bad for the Pens for a lot of reasons. First, don’t give points to both teams on Friday when both teams are playoff teams right now. Second, don’t give points to both teams when both teams you are pursuing for what is most likely to be the final playoff spot in the Atlantic.
Lineup was the same they used in Hershey Wednesday. John Muse backed up. I don’t know what is going on in that regard. Anthony Peters I do not think is hurt, but that whole situation with him this year has been a jumbled mess on top of a much bigger jumbled mess called the 2018-19 Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins.
The Good? The good was coming back from two in the third period to manufacture at least a point.
The Bad? The bad was Utica not really interested in putting a ton of shots on net and the Penguins just throwing everything they could at Leighton that the Comets net minder turned away easily. I didn’t see a ton of traffic in front of him and his night was pretty easy from where I sat.
Turning point was the blown icing call. The Pens were looking for something to happen, good or bad, and something bad ended up happening. They got a point, but they never recovered.
That’s basically it. More Sunday after Hartford. Gameday setup hits the blog Sunday at 11.