A Pikkujoulut is a Finnish term for “Little Christmas” and goes hand in hand with Finnish Independence Day, which also happens to fall on December 6 every season. December 6 is the first time that the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins and Texas Stars met up in a competitive ice hockey game for the first time ever.
Joel Kiviranta is Finnish. His two goals in the second period propel the Texas Stars to a 4-3 win over the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins Friday night.
It’s a bad loss for the Penguins for a number of reasons. First, the Texas Stars had one road win all season coming into tonights game. Second, the Stars are in last place in the Central Division. Third, that Central Division is in the Western Conference, a Conference which the Penguins do not play in. Fourth, with Friday’s results, the Penguins drop to third in the Atlantic Division in a race which is as tight as ever here in December.
Casey DeSmith opposed Jake Oettinger.
Lineup Notes: Lucchini slotted in the top line replacing Noesen, Martinsen replaced Noesen as the veteran and David Warsofsky returned. Matt Abt took the warmup.
First Period: The Penguins came out extremely flat and the Stars were really to play.
Riley Tufte led a charge up ice, put a shot on and Michael Mersch was there to collect the rebound and put it in to give the Stars an early 1-0 lead.
Andreas Martinsen took a puck off of Oettinger and wrapped around and tucked him his first as a Penguin that tied the game at one.
There was calamity in front of DeSmith’s net. David Warsofsky blew a tire, gifting a puck to the Stars who, in three attempts by my count, don’t score on a prone DeSmith on his belly.
Shots were 12-7 Stars, with a majority of them coming early on in the first.
Second Period: Stars jumped out of the gate with another goal when Joe Cecconi drove to the net and dished to Kiviranta who was boxing out Niclas Almari for an early tap in that made it 2-1.
Penguins had about a minute of two man advantage, but it was a block party by Texas who easily killed the penalty. I don’t think the Penguins had a shot on the power play.
Stars would tack on a third goal. Kiviranta again on his country’s Independence Day, with a quick move through a few defenders and it was 3-1 Texas.
Wilkes-Barre would score two goals in a span of :38 to get even again.
Andrew Agozzino finished off a one timer with David Warsofsky on a power play.
Pierre-Olivier Joseph’s first professional goal tied it at three.
Quite the turn of events. Penguins go from rattled to tied in a span of about a minute.
Third Period: Nicholas Caamano’s goal in the opening minutes of the period made it 4-3 Stars. Five hole on DeSmith.
This was right as a penalty expired.
The Stars got 14 saves from Oettinger in the period and rode it out for just their second win on the road this season.
Three Stars: 3) Pierre-Olivier Joseph (goal, assist) 2) Joel Kiviranta (two goals) 1) Nicholas Caamano (game winning goal)
Off ice guys got it wrong in my opinion. Michael Mersch had a goal and two assists.
The Good: The Penguins picked themselves off the mat in the second period and erased a two goal deficit.
The Bad: Continuing with the fight card analogy, they lost on points when they weren’t able to get another goal to tie it.
Turning Point: That sequence where the Penguins were on a five on three in the second period and didn’t negotiate anything resembling a threat against a team coming in with just one road win sticks out.
Expect a better response tomorrow for the Penguins. The Stars didn’t score quickly despite the hot start in the first, but got goals in the first two minutes of the second and third, where the third period goal stood up for the remainder of crunch time.
Around the Division: Bridgeport takes down Utica in a shootout 5-4….Hershey beats Lehigh Valley in a contentious game in Allentown 2-1. Those teams rematch Saturday in Hershey….Providence crushes Binghamton 6-2….Rochester shuts out Charlotte 4-0….Hartford beats Springfield 5-2.
Standings: Providence 33 — Hartford 31 — Penguins 29 — Springfield 28 — Hershey and Lehigh Valley 25 — Bridgeport 22 — Charlotte 21
Wheeling Update: Nailers beat Kalamazoo 6-2. Brandon Hawkins had a had trick.
Rematch Saturday. Gameday setup here Saturday at 3.
Let’s Go Pens!