Kyle Criscuolo’s goal in the final knockings in the second and the third (via open net) give the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins a 4-2 loss in Allentown on Wednesday night.
Typical game in this early season. Get a lead, lose it, play from behind in the third, get close and lose. It’s becoming a troubling trend how the Penguins have allowed three or more goals in 11 of their 12 games so far this season. If the strength of the team is on its veteran defensive presence, it sure isn’t showing so far.
Casey DeSmith opposed J-F Berube.
Lineup Notes: With Sam Lafferty recalled to Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Ryan Haggerty took his spot on the second line. Haggerty was the veteran replacement for Joseph Cramarossa. He and Andreas Martinsen were the healthy scratches along with Justin Almeida. They went with 11F/7D, with Matt Abt getting back into the lineup. I suppose it’s a good way to rotate Abt and Haggerty back into the lineup and I suppose it’s good to get an extra defensemen out there with all the firepower that the Phantoms boast but if you aren’t going to use Justin Almeida, send the kid to Wheeling. It doesn’t do anything for him to constantly sit.
Injuries: Jon Lizotte blocked a shot last week and that’s why he wasn’t in the lineup Saturday or tonight. His status is the benign day to day. Everyone else was status quo. Emil Larmi is on the trip, pending a doctor release.
First Period: Jake Lucchini was flying in the first so of course he would score for the Penguins here in this nice sequence that beat Berube to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.
Lehigh Valley would answer a few minutes later when off of a face-off Andy Welinski would rip and fire a shot from the point that tied the game at one.
Let the bloggers handle the puns, Phantoms social media person.
Game settled into a rock fight after that to close out the period.
Second Period: Pens missed on a goal then finally got one to go. Stefan Noesen flew the slot to open the second on a carryover power play and dished off to Andrew Agozzino who hit a post, but then Adam Johnson and Ryan Haggerty played backhand with the puck when Haggerty cashed to bring the Penguins level at two a piece.
Have to back up to the Phantoms second goal, a Paul Carey undressing of Michael Kim and a snap shot that beat DeSmith that initially gave Lehigh Valley a 2-1 lead.
Kyle Criscuolo found a sliver of daylight and ripped one from mid-slot that hit the post and beat DeSmith that gave the Phantoms a late 3-2 lead.
Less than ideal position for Wilkes-Barre / Scranton who had to play from behind heading into the…
Third Period: Playing behind, the Penguins only mustered six shots on goal, and not necessarily from high danger areas. They had two chances on the power play in the period as well and Lehigh Valley’s bottom third penalty kill easily handled the Penguins sixth ranked power play unit.
Further, Lehigh Valley was down to five defensemen as Samuel Morin went down and didn’t return.
Phantoms would bag an empty netter from about 100 feet away when Criscuolo hit the empty net to ice the game away from the home side.
The Good: Jake Lucchini was arguably the best Penguins player tonight, up on a line with Anthony Angello and Oula Palve.
The Bad: Defense continues to struggle. You’ll see the updated chart next week but David Warsofsky’s got the worst goal differential on the team, -10 at even strength and -5 overall. Not singling Warsofsky out per se, but he’s a defenseman on the team and also serves as the captain.
Turning Point: Criscuolo’s goal with under two minutes to play in the second that gave the Phantoms a slim edge gets the nod here. The Pens simply didn’t or couldn’t do much in the third period despite the luxury of two power plays.
Three Stars: 3) T.J. Brennan (two assists) 2) Greg Carey (goal, assist) 1) Kyle Criscuolo (two goals, assist)
Around the Division: Bridgeport ends Springfield’s winning streak with an impressive 1-0 shutout over the Thunderbirds at home today in a morning kids day game. Bridgeport has won two in a row all of a sudden. Everyone else was off.
Standings: Hartford 19 — Providence and Springfield 16 — Lehigh Valley and Hershey 14 – Penguins 12 — Charlotte and Bridgeport 9.
Wheeling Update: The Nailers also played in a kids day game in Toledo and lost 5-4 in overtime. Jan Drozg had a strong game, with a goal and an assist.
If I read the November Penguins practice schedule correctly, then the Penguins are bussing up to Utica tonight for practice Thursday and then their game Friday against the Comets. Smart, when you think of it, get all the travel out of the way today, recover and play Friday then bus down back home for Syracuse Saturday night.
More as it comes, although the Gameday setup against the Comets is probably the next entry, Friday at 3.
Let’s Go Pens!