The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins played a solid forty minutes in their first trip to Texas in over ten years. They got good goaltending and were tied heading into the third period.
Usually in these situations it’s the team that wants it more that wins the game in the third period. In a game where it was all Texas, it was the Stars who win 5-2 Wednesday night to end the Penguins short little winning streak. Texas outshot Wilkes-Barre 37-20.
Casey DeSmith opposed Jake Oettinger.
Lineup Notes: Was essentially Joseph Blandisi, back from Pittsburgh as of Tuesday, for Jamie Devane up front and Jon Lizotte for Michael Kim on defense. Lizotte only missed one game after his scare last Friday against the Hershey Bears.
Also of note, Wilkes-Barre recalled Emil Larmi for the long road trip. It’s my belief that this was a planned move.
Texas didn’t post any lines.
First Period: The Penguins were steamrolled from the drop of the puck, outshot 7-0 at one point when the Stars took a penalty. Just :12 into the power play, Kevin Roy struck to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.
First shot of the game for WIlkes-Barre.
Texas would get it right back, on a power play of their own, when Tanner Kero walked through the Penguins defense and scored :20 into the power play.
Penguins were outshot 15-5 and Casey DeSmith was sharp, only getting beat five hole on the Kero power play goal. He tracked the puck well in the period.
Second Period: Texas took back to back penalties and while the Penguins looked good slinging the puck around on the power play, were not able to beat Oettinger.
Then, a strange sequence.
Reece Scarlett elbowed Joseph Blandisi in the face. But referee Beau Halkidis thought that the Penguins forward oversold the call and gave Blandisi an embellishing call. This upset Blandisi who took a second to pick himself off of the ice and get attention from the trainer on the bench to ensure that all of his teeth were firmly in place. When he finally got into the penalty box, the following happened.
He taps on the glass to advise the referee he is unhappy with his ruling. Some referees give you leeway on this and others don’t. I see it happen all the time and nothing happens. But Halkidis must have given Blandisi enough rope prior to the sequence and gave him a misconduct.
What happened after was inexcusable, you can’t shove an off ice official and you most certainly may not put your hands on any on ice official. The box had the penalties on Blandisi read 2+10. No game misconduct and Blandisi returned in the third, but the AHL may look at that anyway. I don’t know if anything comes of it, but you can lose your cool and slam your stick and call the referee all the four letter words you can think of, you can not under any circumstances get physical with on or off ice officials no matter how minor the contact may have been.
Back on the ice, Adam Johnson scored from a tight angle to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead at four on four.
Very nice pass by Roy there to set it up.
But a Casey DeSmith own goal would tie the game at two again.
Anthony Louis puts a shot on, Brad McClure in the area looking for a rebound but the puck gets by DeSmith. DeSmith dropped it, but instead of dropping it in front of him he drops it between his legs and it bounces into the net behind him. Hardly ideal.
Eventful period, to say the least.
Third Period: :38 in and Joel L’Esperance’s seemingly harmless shot hits DeSmith’s pad and blocker and goes into the net for a 3-2 Stars lead.
Strange play, but that kind of night.
Thomas DiPauli hit a post with a deflection attempt, that was about as close as Wilkes-Barre got to scoring in the third and that didn’t even count as a shot because it hit the post.
Tanner Kero scored his second of the night when he picked off a Jon Lizotte chip play off of the wall and scored to make it 4-2. It was like Texas had the playbook on the Penguins.
Penguins had a 6-on-4 power play with DeSmith vacated but didn’t have any luck scoring.
Kero would complete his hat trick with an empty net goal, the first hat trick against the Penguins this season.
Penguins head coach Mike Vellucci shortened his bench and Sam Miletic and Joseph Blandisi didn’t see much of, if any ice at all. Blandisi was benched for the third period.
Three Stars: 3) Joel L’Esperance (goal) 2) Anthony Louis (goal, assist) and 1) Tanner Kero (hat trick)
The Good: Casey DeSmith kept the Penguins in the game going into the third.
The Bad: The Penguins weren’t able to adjust from the first into the second period and surely from the second into the third period.
Turning Point: L’Esperance’s goal :38 into the third period gave the Stars the lead they desperately sought and they played with more panache from there and got a second goal from Kero before his third to complete his hat trick.
Around the Division: Hershey is swept in Charlotte and lose 5-4….Hartford overcomes a huge deficit in Utica to force overtime but lose there 6-5…Lehigh Valley beats Syracuse 5-4.
Standings: Hartford 54 — Hershey 51 — Charlotte and Providence 47 — Springfield 44 — Penguins 42 — Lehigh Valley 37 — Bridgeport 33
Wheeling Update: Nailers were off.
Video Highlights: I will check to see if Texas has them in a morning update and if they do will add in the edit here.
They get a day to regroup for Friday which should be interesting. How to they respond? Expect Tokarski in net. You can’t allow 35+ shots and expect to beat this Stars team.
But for anything breaking between here and there, Gameday setup for Friday’s rematch hits the blog Friday at 4.
Let’s Go Pens!