This game, a 4-0 Wilkes-Barre / Scranton win over the Binghamton Devils, was a lot closer than the scoreline would indicate. Yes, the Penguins pretty much had their way with the last place Devils tonight and yes, John Muse had a 33 save shutout, his second of the season but for about 55 minutes of regulation, it was only a two goal lead. You and I have seen our fair share of games that go bad for the Penguins.
Wilkes-Barre keeps pace with fourth place Providence, who wins 8-6 at home against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Bruins remain three points ahead (83) of the Penguins (80) for now. The Sound Tigers are in a tail spin. They have not yet clinched a playoff spot and scored six goals and still lost. How often do you see the losing team score six goals and loose? It doesn’t happen often. Those two teams rematch Saturday in Bridgeport. That was the only divisional game that mattered to the Penguins tonight.
John Muse opposed Evan Cormier.
Lineup Notes: The Penguins have 37 players on their roster and half of them are guys on amateur tryout contracts or ATO’s. Just this week alone I think the Penguins added like seven players and the more household names like Calen Addison and Jan Drozg didn’t even dress for the Pens tonight yet were added to ATO’s.
Anyway, for tonight the line was not touched. Adam Johnson was returned by Pittsburgh earlier Friday and Ben Sexton returned back from injury. Brandon Hawkins (ATO) debuted on third line. Michael Kim (ATO) debuted on defense. Cam and Chris Brown, Patrick McGrath and Tim Erixon were the odd men out from Tuesday. Cam Brown took the warmup.
A note about Kim and Hawkins. Neither looked out of place. I really liked what I saw from Hawkins, who forechecked and hit and from Kim who created turnovers, just standing guys up at his own blue line.
First Period: Men against boys period with the Penguins dominating pace and play yet at the end of the first period the Penguins only led by one goal on account of this Chris Summers goal. Summers swooped in and cleaned up a shot by Sam Lafferty.
Kim’s first professional point. Rookie defensemen out of Boston College wearing number eight. I know someone from there that came through here wearing that number. His name is Brian Dumoulin.
Pens couldn’t do a think on long stretches of power play time, and even more two man advantage time, squeezing their sticks a bit too tightly. Otherwise, they score two or three and the game turns into a laugher, quickly.
Second Period: Lafferty got his goal to go this time, finishing off a cross ice pass by Ethan Prow to make it 2-0.
Penguins carried the play through much of the period again. John Muse stood up to the few chances that the Devils offered easily.
Third Period: Zipped by, you were waiting for something to happen really good or bad, and finally Joseph Blandisi scores with a second left on a Colton White kneeing penalty to make it 3-0.
Capping off a great debut as a professional, Brandon Hawkins scores an empty netter with a nice assist from Jarrett Burton.
The Good: Clark Donatelli’s decision to give Tristan Jarry the literal night off and go with Muse. Alex D’Orio (yet another ATO) backed up Muse, leaving Tristan Jarry as the man in the nets in Allentown for two games this weekend there against the Phantoms.
The Bad: The lack of success on the power play in the first period was a sight to see. Binghamton is a last place team and the Pens had long stretches of two man advantage that they didn’t get many shots on Cormier on.
Turning Point: Blandisi’s goal late in the third took the game from, “I hope we win,” to “We are going to win.”
Setting up Saturday: Five games left for Providence and Wilkes-Barre. Bruins rematch with the Sound Tigers on Saturday while the Pens travel down the Pennsylvania Turnpike to set up shop in Allentown to take on the Phantoms, who were off tonight. You’ll probably see more ATO guys rotate in, although I would be fine leaving who played tonight in Saturday but like I have said countless times before, I don’t coach the team, I just write a blog about them.
Gameday setup vs. Lehigh Valley will hit the blog Saturday at 3.
Let’s Go Pens!