Chirps from Center Ice

A fan blog about the AHL's Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins

So Close, Yet So Far Away* — Pens WIN 2-1

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I feel like this is a game that a year ago, they somehow find a way to lose.

It’s the middle of November, six or so weeks into the season so by comparison fairly early, but it’s the first five game winning streak the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins have had in a long time, winning 2-1 Saturday over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in a hotly contested, close game.

Tonight signified the tenth win of the season for the Penguins, who are now 10-5-1-1. They didn’t win their tenth game until December 7, 2018 in a home game against the Cleveland Monsters last season.

Lehigh Valley had all the momentum on the side, yet Dustin Tokarski was cool as a cucumber and stopped 31 shots.

Tokarski opposed Alex Lyon.

Lineup:

Bob Rotruck, radio voice of the Phantoms, didn’t post lines. Neither did the Phantoms twitter. Sorry.

Lineup Notes: Joseph Blandisi was recalled earlier in they to Pittsburgh, so Justin Almeida took his spot in the lineup up front. Matt Abt for Michael Kim on defense and Emil Larmi backed up and gave Casey DeSmith a well deserved night off. A note on Blandisi going up, it still doesn’t solve the veteran problem.

First Period: Quick moving period. Not a lot happened from an infraction stand point. I don’t think there was a clean face-off all night, linesman Julien Fournier, in particular was awful in that regard.

German Rubtsov struck Andrew Agozzino with a high stick and put the Penguins on a power play. Less than a minute into it, Sam Miletic struck on a rebound that gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead.

Remember when the Penguins used to give up multiple goals in the first period to the opponent? I do.

Despite the advantage to Lehigh Valley at even strength all period and a 14-9 shot advantage, Wilkes-barre led where it mattered most going into the…

Second Period: Mikhail Vorobyev just :55 into the period pounced on a rebound and brought the Phantoms level.

Game stayed pretty even. Pens killed a Matt Abt hook about halfway through. Abt, for his part was OK defensively tonight in my opinion.

Third Period: Need a big goal? Turn to your captain.

Warsofsky knew where the shot was going to go before he even shot the puck. Shooters shoot.

Dustin Tokarski had the save of the evening here.

German Rubtsov will see that pad in his sleep.

Phantoms got close a couple times but the Penguins penalty killing remained stout. With Alex Lyon pulled, the Phantoms were never able to equalize.

Three Stars: 3) Dustin Tokarski (31 saves) 2) Sam Miletic (goal, assist) 1) David Warsofsky (goal, assist)

The Good: The win streak is good. Finding different ways to win is good. Friday against Springfield it was a bit run and gun and the Penguins won that battle. Tonight was a defensive slug fest and the Penguins somehow won the battle. How long it continues is your best guess.

The Bad: Struggling to find one here in a five game home stand where the Penguins allow the opponents just three goals. Let’s just skip this section.

Turning Point: Dustin Tokarski’s pad stop on German Rubtsov preserved a slim 2-1 lead for his side and was just enough to get keep a close affair close, with your team in the lead.

Around the Division: Hartford continues to win, 5-2 winners at home against the Providence Bruins….Springfield keeps pace, rebounding nicely with a 3-2 win in Binghamton….Hershey wins at home against Charlotte 2-1….Bridgeport is shutout in Laval 3-0.

Standings: Hartford 27 — Penguins 22 — Springfield 22 — Providence and Hershey 20 — Lehigh Valley 17 — Charlotte 14 — Bridgeport 12

Wheeling Update: Nailers with a hard luck 1-0 overtime loss in Reading. Jordan Ruby stopped 27 in net for the Nailers.

Video Highlights:

They get a week of practice after a day off or so, then it’s up to Springfield Friday for a trip to see the Thunderbirds. More in between.

Let’s Go Pens!

* – felt like the headline should have been used in event of a loss, but with Elvis night, had to go with the apropos given the kind of close game it was.

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