An eight point weekend in Charlotte, seven of eight points on the road trip and the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins complete a sweep in Charlotte winning 4-2 Saturday evening.
Thomas DiPauli’s goal with 1:28 left in regulation guarantees such. Emil Larmi stopped 24 of 26 and turned in yet another solid performance in goal for Wilkes-Barre.
Larmi opposed Alex Nedeljkovic, who won eight straight games against the Penguins coming in.
Lineup Notes: There were none for the Penguins but for Larmi in goal.
First Period: :55 in, on the first shot of the game, Checkers all-star Julien Gauthier scored to give Charlotte a 1-0 lead.
Chances picked up in a big way for the Penguins after that, they had a 2-on-1, Blandisi had a breakaway and P-O Joseph hit a post. They weren’t able to score, but they had the majority of the chances as compared to the Checkers.
Second Period: Slow start, crazy finish.
Charlotte easily disposed of a Penguin power play and Jake Bean came out of the penalty box and was denied on a 2-on-0 by Larmi. Later, Freddy Claesson hit the post on a wide open net.
Jordy Bellerive would score when he crashed the net and Kevin Czuczman threw a pass at him. It went in legally and the Penguins tied the game at one.
Three minutes later, Bellerive would do it again. This time on a one timer.
Larmi was settled in to this point, but then he found himself in trouble. Here, let my tweet explain:
Charlotte would continue to pressure, but time expired in the period and they were off to the…
Third Period: Emil Larmi is the type of goaltender who you can see very early if he is dialed in or not. You saw it last week in Texas against the Stars and you saw it here Saturday against the Checkers.
The period flew by after a slow start, Charlotte started to come in waves and through everything they could at Larmi, but the Penguins rookie netminder didn’t crack.
With it looking with each passing minute that the game would head to overtime, Thomas DiPauli breaks in and scores with 1:28 to play to give the Penguins a 3-2 lead.
DiPauli would also add an empty netter to seal it. I didn’t get a video of that. He shot the puck from center ice and it went in. Use your imagination.
Three Stars: 3) Emil Larmi (24 saves) 2) Jordy Bellerive (two goals) 1) Thomas DiPauli (game winning goal and an empty netter)
The Good: They didn’t take a single penalty and got a hell of a game from their rookie goaltender.
The Bad: The power play looks like an abject disaster. They were better in a lot of other areas so it didn’t affect them as much, but you want that to come around as you continue to push here.
Turning Point: The DiPauli goal with 1:28 gets the nod here. If the game gets into overtime, the Pens don’t tie the Checkers in points and who knows what happens with the point lost as it goes down the line. DiPauli’s clutch goal in the moment guarantees that they maxed points in Charlotte against a foe.
Around the Division: The Lehigh Valley Phantoms went up 2-0 in Hartford but lose 4-2….Hershey gets a late goal to force overtime and go on to win in a shootout 3-2….Springfield wins 6-2 at home against Bridgeport.
Standings: Hartford and Hershey 59 — Providence 55 — Springfield 52 — Charlotte 51 — Penguins 51 — Lehigh Valley 42 — Bridgeport 35
Wheeling Update: Nailers win at home 4-1 against the Cincinnati Cyclones. Brandon Hawkins had three assists, Michael Kim had a goal and an assist. Alex D’Dori stopped 28.
They are off now till next Friday when they finally return home against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, so news may be scarce between now and then. All-Star Classic is Sunday and Monday, but that’s the same stuff every year and it doesn’t count. Enjoy it if you are heading to California.
Let’s Go Pens!