So Cleveland just came off of a hellish road trip where they only won once in four games through Belleville and Laval. They were sixth in the North Division coming home to face the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins.
The Penguins have had success against Cleveland of recent memory, sweeping them in Ohio last season so if there ever was a chance to right this mini funk that was affecting the team, it was right here, right now.
Penguins lose 4-0 in what could best be described as one of the more frustrating games of the season for the team, and borderline low point of the season. The Penguins couldn’t do anything right, and the Monsters could do no wrong.
The Penguins dominated the early start, Monsters score a five on three power play goal, then the Penguins shot themselves in the foot in the second after going down another goal and couldn’t get anything going in the third.
Five game losing streak. November may as well be as far away as June is right now.
It’s clear at this point that they miss the hammer of offense that Stefan Noesen brought to the team. Andrew Agozzino has been invisible and Joseph Blandisi they are beating like a rented mule. It’s a funk you can only punch and skate out of.
Casey DeSmith opposed Matiss Kivlenieks.
Lineup Notes: Shuffling to the forward pairings, but Jordy Bellerive was in for Ryan Haggerty in forward and the defense pairs were the same as they were in Rochester on Wednesday.
First Period: Wilkes-Barre dominated early possession, Kivlenieks was under bombardment, but the shots quality wasn’t very good.
Wilkes-Barre would not score on back to back power plays.
Then the momentum flipped and all of a sudden the Penguins found themselves on a wrong end of a five on three against for over a minute. Cleveland’s power play is bad, last in the AHL, and they have only scored four power play goals at home all season.
So of course the Monsters would cash on the power plat when Kevin Stenlund cashed on a one timer feed off of Stefan Matteau to give the Monsters a 1-0 lead.
The Monsters would go on to outshoot the Penguins 10-9 in the period. Wilkes-Barre gets all the momentum early, can do nothing offensively, then found themselves on a wrong end of a five on three and trailed going into the…
Second Period: Wilkes-Barre had almost as many shots (five) as penalties taken in the period (four) – they also fell behind another goal when Oula Palve bobbled a puck at the blue line exiting the zone and turned it over. Justin Scott skated in, Casey DeSmith made the save, then the Jakub Lilja follow up but the rebound got past him.
The Penguins could not get anything going at all because of stupid, careless penalties.
– Anthony Angello was called for a high stick.
– Andreas Martinsen was called for a soft as tissue paper cross check.
(Monsters would score here in between at even strength as described above)
– Joseph Blandisi was called for essentially clotheslining Marko Dano.
– Pierre-Olivier Joseph cross checked Anton Karlsson in the mouth.
Two out of four penalties were legit. Notice that the careless infractions came as Wilkes-Barre trailed by two.
Penguins would lose Zach Trotman after this questionable hit by Calvin Thurkauf.
Thurkauf was assessed a charging penalty. The Penguins weren’t able to score.
Third Period: Zach Trotman did not come out for the third period. so the Penguins were down five defensemen.
Penguins only took one penalty in the period but still couldn’t generate any good offense in the zone.
Lilja blocked a David Warsofsky pass / shot at the blue line and skated in for a goal that beat DeSmith five hole that iced the game away as the Monsters made it 3-0.
Marko Dano hit an empty net goal as the Pens pulled DeSmith for the extra attacker.
Three Stars: 3) Kevin Stenlund (goal) 2) Jakob Lilja (two goals) 1) Matiss Kivlenieks (23 save shutout)
The Good: I don’t know what good comes out of being shutout on the road.
The Bad: Pucks are not going in right now. But for a garbage time goal and a bit of a rush late in Rochester Wednesday, the Penguins offense has gone cold like these December nights in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Turning Point: The power play goal against late in the first, after the Penguins came out hot and had all the momentum buried the lifeless offense and Wilkes-Barre had no real chance at a comeback from there.
I don’t want to bury the kid, but Emil Larmi is likely going to get the start for Wilkes-Barre tomorrow. Larmi hasn’t been good at all for the Penguins in the limited role he’s had as a backup for the team. I don’t know if Dustin Tokarski is on the trip, but Larmi looks primed for the start for the Penguins, who h*ave now lost five games in a row.
Also, Joseph Blandisi, if he plays tomorrow will be doing so in his fourth game in as many nights. Suffice to say, I wouldn’t expect him to play, but as I have said for years, I blog about the team I don’t coach them.
Around the Division: Hartford shuts out Lehigh Valley 4-0….Springfield beats Binghamton 5-3….Bridgeport beats Utica 4-3….Charlotte beats Syracuse 3-2. Hershey and Providence were off. I often wonder why Hershey never plays on Fridays but then see all those Sunday 5 o’clock starts they have. They can have it.
Standings: Hartford 39 — Providence 35 — Penguins 30 — Springfield 30 — Hershey 29 — Charlotte 25 — Lehigh Valley 25 — Bridgeport 24
Wheeling Update: Nailers are still out in South Dakota for the weekend, box here.
Video Highlights: I’ll look to see if Cleveland has them later and work and edit in if they do.
Penguins and Monsters rematch Saturday from Cleveland at 7. Gameday setup here Saturday afternoon at 3.
Let’s Go Pens!