Two evenly matched teams squared off Tuesday afternoon in Springfield.
Your new rival is the Springfield Thunderbirds. Not Hershey or Lehigh Valley. It’s the Thunderbirds. They play the Penguins tough, strong and hard. They don’t lead the division by 15 points or beat teams by seven goals a night, they play a hard nosed, physical style just like the Penguins.
Springfield wins 5-4 in a shootout in a game that had everything. The game ending in a shootout was the least exciting thing about the entire contest.
Casey DeSmith opposed Philippe Desrosiers.
Lineup Notes: They released Sebastian Caron from his PTO about five minutes before they came out for the warmup, DeSmith started and Dustin Tokarski backed up. That was it. No imminent recall in the wake of Jake Guentzel’s season ending shoulder surgery off of the injury he sustained in Monday’s game against Ottawa.
Notable, Andrew Agozzino played in his 500th game. Also, Springfield didn’t post lines or any goal GIFs.
First Period: Period had pretty much everything.
First, two goals by the Penguins scored :18 apart. Anthony Angello drove the net and ripped a shot which was tipped but the rebound put in by Sam Miletic for a goal at 7:38.
Then, :18 later, a puck off of the chest of Andrew Agozzino and in for a 2-0 Penguin lead.
Oh and this too, depending on your view of what’s even strength or not.
To clarify, I’m talking about the goal Miletic scored in Rochester on December 11, not the one he scored Tuesday.
Springfield was never on the ropes, because they responded in kind to not only tie, but take the lead.
Paul Thompson’s initial shot is stopped, but the Thunderbirds captain follows his shot and puts it in to cut the deficit to one.
Later, Dryden Hunt tied the game on a tic tac power play goal.
Then Ryan Haggerty scored a goal in controversial fashion.
He put a puck in past DeSmith after the Penguins netminder made the initial stop, then never covered the puck which was loose in or around the crease. As Haggerty is knocked around, he makes contact with DeSmith as DeSmith is going down into a snow angel to hopefully cover up the puck before it crosses the line.
It did. Referee Dan Kelly was right on top of the play and signaled goal. This made Casey DeSmith very mad. He flung his blocker in the general direction of Kelly. Kelly then went to replay to review something. No idea what, as goalie interference calls when goals are scored and not called as such are not reviewable in the AHL. The goal stood and the place was hot.
I guess what I don’t understand is why that goal by Haggerty was allowed to stand with all that contact and the goal Bobby Nardella scored against Dustin Tokarski Saturday in Hershey wasn’t. Nardella sneezed on Tokarski and his goal was disallowed and yet DeSmith is knocked over, unable to play his position, and the goal stands. There is no black and white. There just isn’t. You can argue contact, but there is contact all the time.
Mike Vellucci then initially refused to send five players over the boards in a protest despite Dan Kelly’s petitioning to start play again at center ice.
Full marks to Kelly for not throwing Casey DeSmith out of the game. You can’t throw things at officials. Also, you are supposed to start play when the official signals. Kelly could have thrown gas on the fire by ejecting DeSmith and Vellucci but didn’t.
Oh, Jan Drozg scored a power play goal to tie the game at three.
(no goal GIF here or of the Haggerty one)
That was just the first period.
Second Period: A lot less controversy. The Penguins knuckle down and put 15 shots on Desrosiers, but the Thunderbirds netminder turned them all aside. Springfield took just six, one of them going in when Joel Lowry had a goal go in the opening minutes of the period.
Third Period: Penguins finally get one to go, this time off of the back of Desrosiers, when Thomas DiPauli was the last to touch the puck which tied the game at four.
Overtime: Pens had to kill a too many men penalty and did. No one really got close to scoring on either end.
Shootout: Henrik Borgstrom’s goal in the first round of the shootout stood up as the winner. Kevin Roy, Jake Lucchini and Anthony Angello all missed in that order for Wilkes-Barre.
The Good: Competitive game between to evenly matched teams gave the fans a good show. It’s always a battle and the Penguins and Thunderbirds sometimes bring out the best and worst of each other. Oh, and they rematch Saturday in Wilkes-Barre.
The Bad: Obviously the goalie interference no call, but the standard has no footing. No one knows what is or isn’t goalie interference.
Turning Point: Haggerty’s controversial goal gave Springfield the jam they were seeking. They kept out the Penguins in the second, and rode Desrosiers and a shootout to a win.
Around the Division: Hartford and Bridgeport were the only other game in town division wise, and the Wolf Pack handled the Sound Tigers beating them 3-2.
Standings: Hartford 45 — Providence 43 — Hershey 41 — Penguins 39 — Springfield 38 — Charlotte 35 — Bridgeport 31 — Lehigh Valley 29
Wheeling Update: Nailers hosted the Norfolk Admirals and beat them 6-1. Emil Larmi had 45 saves. Ryan Scarfo had a goal and an assist.
Video Highlights: Are here. The Haggerty goal is around the 1:50 mark.
Happy New Year. Don’t drink and drive, all that. Pens are back in action Friday when they host Hershey. Expect the All-Star rosters to be published sometime Thursday. I will be back then to let you know who made it from the Penguins plus looks at all the other players named. I think Casey DeSmith and Andrew Agozzino are locks, but I guess we will find out for sure then.
Let’s Go Pens!