I am not going to bury the turning point in this game recap, I’ll give it to you here.
After the Penguins third goal of the game and of the second period, Texas Stars head coach Derek Laxdal called his time out to settle his group. His side, still at the bottom of the Central Division and only winners of two road games all season, were seeing a decent start to the game slip away after the Penguins scored back to back power play goals.
It worked. The Penguins didn’t score another goal, Texas would tie the game later in the period then score just :15 into the third period to go on to win 5-3 Saturday night in Wilkes-Barre.
The game will be remembered for some fighting at the end, including Emil Larmi’s halfhearted attempt to fight Stars starting goaltender Landon Bow. They didn’t and, at 10:45 p.m. on this Saturday night where I am typing these words, the game sheet still is not final on the AHL’s website.
Second loss in a row for the Penguins. Consider the opponent. Texas was in for the first time ever as an opponent from the Western Conference which we rarely see. Are they two games that you’d like to win? Sure, Texas was awful coming in and in last in the Central. But in the bigger picture you’d rather lose to out of division teams vs. teams like Hershey or Providence.
Texas didn’t post lines and there are no GIFs of any goals. I’ll do my best in describing them for you, use your imagination.
Lineup Notes: Jan Drozg was recalled from Wheeling Saturday afternoon. He replaced Adam Johnson who picked up a knock last night on Jon Lizotte’s clearing attempt. For what it’s worth they listed Johnson on the injury report. Andreas Martinsen was slotted on the top line but didn’t stay there, as he was replaced by Drozg.
First Period: Better start for the Penguins, but it was Jason Robertson scoring twice in the period from two on one goals which beat Larmi. The second came with just .8 seconds left to play in the period.
Second Period: David Warsofsky’s shot at goal was deflected by Sam Miletic which triggered the annual teddy bear toss. After a brief delay, play resumed and the Penguins found themselves on a five on three for 1:41.
Warsofsky’s shot this time went in without anyone touching it and it was a tie game. There was still time left over from the Dillon Heatherington double minor of a high stick on Andrew Agozzino, and the Penguins connected on that to take the lead at 3-2. Zach Trotman scored on a hell of a shot.
Here is where that time out by Laxdal came in. There was still more than half of the game yet to be played. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t. This time it did.
Joel L’Esperance scored on a power play goal late in the period which tied the game at three. I believe Larmi was screened.
Third Period: Weird play to open the period. Heatherington’s shot at goal kicked off of Niclas Almari’s skates and died in the slot. Joel Kiviranta was in the right place at the right time, put a move on Larmi to get him out of position and scored to give the Stars the lead again.
Penguins had more than a few good looks at Bow and the Stars net but were unable to find the equalizer.
An empty net goal by Nicholas Caamano set off a melee of penalties. David Warsofsky slashed Caamano and received a 5:00 penalty for it and a game misconduct.
Jamie Devane picked up a roughing and fighting major as did Rhett Gardner.
After that was sorted out, Macoy Erkamps didn’t like Riley Tufte’s attempt at scoring a goal on Larmi at the end of the game, so they picked up roughing and misconduct penalties.
Emil Larmi got a penalty for traveling beyond the center red line (it is actually a penalty) and a misconduct for attempting to fight Landon Bow.
Bow, for a second, thought about it but smiled and skated away.
Three Stars: 3) Sam Miletic (goal, assist) 2) Jason Robertson (two goals) 1) Joel Kiviranta (game winning goal)
The Good: The power play came to life when it needed to and picked the Penguins off the mat and back into the game.
The Bad: They couldn’t hold a lead against a team which had only won twice coming in. But I think it’s a different Stars team. You could see it if you watched the games this weekend. They are a good team which are buried under bad luck. When the two teams meet again in January, it probably won’t be with Texas in last in the Central Division.
Turning Point: Go back to the top and read the lede again.
Around the Division: It’s always fun to watch the Penguins two biggest rivals, Hershey and Lehigh Valley, beat the hell out of each other. It happened this weekend in a war between the two teams. Hershey wins 1-0 at home. They will probably be missing a few guys Sunday when the Penguins come calling and may be, just may be, emotionally spent and ripe for the picking.
Elsewhere, Syracuse beats Bridgeport 5-2, Providence beats Utica in a shootout 3-2, Charlotte ends Rochester’s long point streak 3-1, Laval had a nice comeback and beats Springfield 4-3 and Hartford beats up Binghamton 5-2.
Standings: Providence 35 — Hartford 33 — Penguins 29 — Springfield 28 — Hershey 27 — Lehigh Valley 25 — Charlotte 23 — Bridgeport 22
Wheeling Update: Nailers lost 4-1 at home in a rematch with Kalamazoo. Yushi Hirano had the only goal for the Nailers Saturday.
Pens close out the weekend three in three with a game in Hershey Sunday at 5. Gameday setup hits the blog Sunday at 1.
Let’s Go Pens!