As you will see as you dive into this recap of a 4-1 Penguins loss Friday night in Allentown, the Wilkes-Barre defense was unchanged from last Saturday in Hershey.
I would expect that to change for the home opener Saturday night against Utica.
The Penguins get trucked in shots 16-2 in the first, go down 2-0 and then Lehigh Valley runs away with it in the second and sits on it in the third and pick up their first win of the season, subsequently handing the Penguins their first loss of this very early 2019-20 campaign.
Casey DeSmith opposed Alex Lyon.
And for the Phantoms…
Lineup Notes: Well Adam Johnson was recalled Thursday and Friday afternoon as I was heading home from work I saw that Pittsburgh returned Andrew Agozzino and called up Joseph Blandisi. Agozzino wasn’t in the lineup Friday presumably because they didn’t want him playing four games in four straight games.
For the players still on the farm in contrast to last Saturday’s lineup in Hershey…
No changes to the defense pairings at all from last Saturday.
First Period: Phantoms with the jump off the hop bombarded the Penguins for sixteen shots in the period and led 2-0 at intermission.
The Penguins had just two shots all period and none on a power play about halfway through.
So it was just a matter of time before the dam broke and Lehigh Valley scored.
Jon Lizotte held a puck too long in his own end, lost it and it was academic from there.
Lehigh Valley would connect again on a power play off a very nice pass from Cal O’Reilly to Mikhail Vorobyev for a tap in goal that made it 2-0.
Thanks again to Taylor for the GIFs and allowing me to run her work again on these.
Second Period: Stefan Noesen, who has been an early godsend especially with all the injuries right now in Pittsburgh, pulled the Penguins to within one in the opening minute on a power play with this effort.
Penguins came out and stayed buzzing, until Joel Farabee walked P-O Joesph and then got a step on Casey DeSmith and scored to reestablish the two goal Phantoms lead.
1:09 later, Chris Bigras wound up, fired and scored and beat Casey DeSmith for a goal that made it 4-1 and started to put the game out of reach for Wilkes-Barre.
Things pretty much evened out from there, but I started to notice something that the Penguins were doing with their shots.
Pretty academic saves by Lyon in the period. He only had to make two in the first, got beat with the first shot he saw in the second, then his defenders in front of him limited the Penguins to shots from the blue line.
Third Period: Phantoms parked the bus and only had five shots on goal all period. The Penguins had this for a shot board in the third.
That is with the benefit of two power plays in the period for Wilkes-Barre as well.
Three Stars: 3) German Rubtsov (two assists) 2) Kurtis Gabriel (goal) and 1) Joel Farabee (goal)
The Good: Stefan Noesen did pretty much all he could to put the team on his back tonight offensively. Casey DeSmith was OK too, left out to dry by his inexperienced defense.
The Bad: Defense looked out to lunch, but it’s just game two and time to work things out.
Turning Point: Lehigh Valley’s response after the Noesen goal, reestablishing the two goal then eventually the three goal lead buried the Penguins and their chance of a comeback this evening.
Around the Division: Bridgeport spoils Charlotte’s banner raising and beat the Checkers 4-2…Springfield loses 2-1 at home against Rochester. The Americans put up 40 shots. Everyone else was off.
Standings: Providence and Hartford 4, Bridgeport 3, Lehigh Valley, Wilkes-Barre, Charlotte and Springfield 2, Hershey 1.
Wheeling Update: The Nailers open their season Saturday in Cincinnati against the Cyclones.
Video Highlights: If the Phantoms get around to them, which I believe they will, I’ll toss up the package here. Check back in the morning if you really want to see them.
Wilkes-Barre holds its home opener Saturday night at 7:05 against the Utica Comets, who make their only stop in this season Saturday night. Gameday setup hits the blog Saturday afternoon at 3.
Let’s Go Pens!