Quite frankly, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins needed this one. Badly.
A 4-1 win Sunday afternoon at home against the Rockford IceHogs where they got depth scoring, good defense and solid goaltending from Tristan Jarry who made 33 saves.
Two goals from Jimmy Hayes in the second period, who found out Saturday that he and his wife are having a baby boy, and it is a good afternoon for the Penguins who use their game in hand to their advantage on the division and get some help on the out of town scoreboard to keep themselves in the running in the Atlantic Division push for the playoffs.
Jarry opposed Kevin Lankinen.
Lineup Notes: The Penguins recalled Cam Brown and Jeff Taylor from Wheeling Sunday morning. They both went right into the lineup. Taylor for Macoy Erkamps and Brown for Anthony Angello, who despite being listed above was indeed thescrtach. Jimmy Hayes was on the fourth line. Adam Johnson returned from his illness and replaced Linus Ölund.
Lines, from Friday, were all jumbled up. Even the D pairings.
First Period: Jeff Taylor pinches down, wheels around the net, throws a shot on and Ryan Scarfo is there near side to sweep the puck in for a 1-0 Penguins lead.
The Penguins played very well in the opening frame, probably the beneficiaries of having the night off Saturday, and controlled play. They lacked on special teams and gave up two quality chances that Tristan Jarry had to bail them out on. Here is one, on a breakaway.
Rockford tied it when Luke Johnson called for the puck mid slot and flicked one past Jarry low to tie the game at one.
First Intermission: One of the zambonis broke down. It took a team effort to get it off of the ice.
So, you want to work in pro sports?
Second Period: Jimmy Hayes scored the first of two two goals when he throws a puck at the net trying to find Ryan Scarfo parked in front when it goes off of Lucas Carlsson’s skate and in for a 2-1 Penguins lead.
Hayes added a second when he had a clap shot from the near dot with Joseph Cramarossa screening that gave the Penguins a 3-1 lead.
Penguins took a stand in the final thirty or so seconds of the period when Rockford pushed really hard for a goal but they got out of it with the two goal lead heading into the third.
Third Period: Wilkes-Barre was getting badly outshot in the period, but that is where Tristan Jarry went to work. Rockford came up empty with each passing attempt. Jerry attempted another goal at the empty net but his attempt sailed wide.
Adam Johnson beat out a Sam Lafferty bid from around the same area and the Penguins sealed it.
The Good: I think I mentioned it in my open but I’ll mention it again here. Depth scoring, solid goaltending and defense. Put the three together like you did today and see how far this team can go in the 20 or so games left in the season.
The Bad: Week of practice coming up, I hope they work win special teams. They were a mess today. If not for Jarry being laser dialed in, who knows where this goes.
Turning Point: Jimmy Hayes’ second goal of the period gave the Penguins a two goal lead in the second period and a swagger that felt good for them and even in the stands. It’s a game that you go back and look at and say that they had all the way because of the full effort on display. Hayes goal that gave the Pens a two goal lead was the turning point.
Around the Division: Good afternoon on the out of town scoreboard. Hershey’s point streak is over, Bridgeport beats the Bears 5-1 to open up an eight point lead on Hershey for second place….Hartford beats Providence 4-1. The Bruins are the Penguins next opponent this Friday in Rhode Island in a game with huge playoff implications. Everyone else was off.
Standings: Charlotte 79 — Bridgeport 73 — Hershey 65 — Providence 64 — Lehigh Valley 60 — Penguins 59 — Springfield 55 — Hartford 55
Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off all weekend, are back in action Tuesday.
Trade Deadline is tomorrow. I don’t expect anything major to impact Wilkes-Barre here but have been wrong in the past. If there is anything of note to talk about, my Twitter will have it first followed by a blog probably Monday afternoon or evening. If not, look for news and notes this week if there are any and the Power Rankings on Thursday.
Let’s Go Pens!
This was one of their better games of this season. Play was cohesive — they supported one another. They didn’t take a lot of unnecessary penalties. Jarry was really seeing it. He should have been second star. Well done, lads.