Chirps from Center Ice

A fan blog about the AHL's Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins

Close Shave — Pens WIN 2-1 (OT)

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In a bit of a surprise to Penguins fans on Wednesday night, the Wilkes-barre / Scranton Penguins tweeted their usual lineup graphic. It looked like this:

No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. That is indeed Riley Barber’s name in the lineup. Tyler had some more insight:

I had a whole paragraph I had to rip up criticizing the Penguins and the antiquated way that injuries are described in professional hockey. After Barber scored in overtime to give the Penguins a 2-1 overtime win in Allentown Wednesday night, it didn’t matter.

It was a goalie duel, and don’t look now but Dutsin Tokarski has quietly won some games for the Penguins where Casey DeSmith has faltered. Am I brewing up a goalie controversy? No, I am not. Just stating the facts. It will be very interesting to see who plays Saturday in Hershey. Not overlooking the rematch Friday against the Phantoms, but the Bears are a juggernaut and the Penguins need to be almost perfect to win games these days.

This was, by all accounts a better game for Wilkes-Barre, who were in a battle with the Phantoms all night and managed to find a way to win. Find a way to win, that has to be the mantra in this last month of the season.

Other lineup notes included Barber for Justin Almeida and Niclas Almari for David Warsofsky. Warsofsky was listed as injured. I honestly don’t mind, his even strength numbers are terrible and his +/- is a joke. He’s good on the power play and that’s all. Almari has been an abject disaster of late, but if he is going to develop as a pro over here, he learns from his errors and gets better the next time out.

First Period: Alex Lyon kind of stole the period for the Penguins, making stops on Adam Johnson on a breakaway, Kevin Roy on a redirect of a Cole Cassels shot and then Riley Barber twice in close in the periods final seconds. High degree of difficulty saves which he made look easy.

Second Period: The goaltender duel continued and the period zipped by. Kevin Roy got free, but hit a post. Seconds later on the same shift, this:

Amazing what happens when you take the goaltenders eyes away.

Penguins found themselves on some penalty trouble late, but the Penguins penalty kill was stout and held the Phantoms out of the net.

Third Period: Penguins killed off the remaining penalty kill time left over from the second, then had a power play of their own that they failed to score on then Kurtis Gabriel scored on a deflection in front that squeaked through Tokarski and in to tie the game at one.

The Phantoms didn’t GIF the goal.

Penguins had a late power play come and go and it was off to….

Overtime: It took Riley Barber :50 to end it.

On a nice feed by ex-Phantom Phil Varone, no less.

Three Stars: 3) Kurtis Gabriel (goal) 2) Alex Lyon (33 saves) 1) Riley Barber (overtime game winning goal)

The Good: Strong goaltending from Tokarski, defense looked good. Lehigh Valley has been a huge disappointment this season, so take this with a grain of salt.

The Bad: In games like this where the goalies steal the show, anything is a nitpick. They didn’t take any exorbitant penalties and found a way to win. Moving on…

Turning Point: Barber’s shot that ended it gets it here.

Around the Division: It’s a meaningless exercise if the Charlotte Checkers, who are in fourth place keep winning and oh, shucks, they did tonight against Cleveland 3-2 in overtime….Bridgeport beats Toronto 4-1….Providence wins their twelfth straight with a 3-1 win in Hartford and the Wolf Pack have lost five straight.

Standings: Providence 82 — Hershey 81 — Charlotte 73 — Hartford 73 — Penguins 66 — Springfield 65 — Lehigh Valley 58 — Bridgeport 53

Wheeling Update: Nailers were off.

Video Highlights: If I see them I will edit them in.

Pens rematch Friday in Allentown. Gameday setup hits here Friday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

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