I knew they were young at the back, I didn’t think they were that young at the back.
The Penguins played five rookie defensemen in their opening contest against Binghamton, delayed 48 hours because of COVID and carried a 3-1 lead into the third period. That was where they were met with a Devils buzzsaw. Binghamton gets two in the third and the one in overtime to win 4-3 Monday evening.
Emil Larmi opposed Evan Cormier.
Here is how they lined up:
Lineup Notes: If you are wondering where Shane Starrett is, you aren’t the only one. Apparently he is still getting in shape and they have Brochu backing up. I guess that explains his horrible ECHL numbers….Jan Drozg was scratched because of COVID….earlier Monday the Pens signed Tim Schaller to an AHL contract.
First Period: They went back and forth for about fourteen minutes in a virtual deadlock and then Jordy Bellerive scored the first goal of the 2021 season (I am not calling it 2020-21) when he chipped a puck off of the wall and put the shot on Cormier which ricocheted off him to Devils defenseman Brandon Gignac and careened into the net for a goal.
They closed the period a defense mess, which I suppose you will need to get used to dressing 5 of 6 rookie defenseman but Emil Larmi was up to task, stopping Tyler Irvine and then ex-Penguin Ben Street on separate chances.
Second Period: I was ready to point out some more lax defending by the rookies, but then play by play man Nick Hart noted that Binghamton was without a shot with about six minutes left to play, then get a flurry of shots and one of them goes in, deflecting off of Nolan Foote’s foot and in.
Matt Miller takes a puck off the helmet while the Penguins were on a penalty kill.
It didn’t take long for the Penguins to regain the lead when Josh Currie scored his first as Penguins captain on a power play.
Then, an absolute gaffe of epic proportions by the Binghamton Devils.
On a delayed penalty against the Penguins, Evan Cormier leaves his net. Binghamton plays the puck back and it eludes everyone, Cormier included, and rolls harmlessly into the net to give Wilkes-Barre a 3-1 lead.
Sometimes you’re the hammer, sometimes you’re the nail.
Third Period: That slow start that I eluded to in the second period by the Devils was non-existent in the third. Binghamton peppers Larmi with shots and gets one to go when Danick Martel redirects a Tyler Irvine shot at the net which beats Larmi to cut the Penguins lead to just one.
Devils continue to roll, outshooting the Penguins at a four to one pace and Ryan Schmelzer sees a shot hit the post then hits him in the chest, where he sweeps it in the net to tie the game at three.
Penguins would get a late power play. Jon Gruden digs a puck off of the wall and tries to beat Cormier over the glove but the Binghamton goalie makes the save.
It was then off to…
Overtime: Reilly Walsh didn’t waste any time with all that open ice.
Three Stars: 3) Cam Lee (two assists) 2) Danick Martel (goal, assist) 1) Reilly Walsh (overtime game winning goal)
The Good: Power play clicked at a 50% pace. Probably not sustainable in the long term, but good to see.
The Bad: That defense is green, man. No answer whatsoever for the blitzkrieg the Devils unloaded in the third period at a four to one pace. Got to tighten up.
Turning Point: Late power play, game on the line and the Penguins come up empty. Game heads to overtime. Binghamton wins it. It may be meaningless because I don’t think they are doing playoffs, but two points would have been nice in this shortened season versus just one.
Around the Division: They all watched us.
Standings: I am not going to pay much attention to this until there is word on if there will be a playoff. Don’t bet on it.
Wheeling Feeling: The Nailers were off.
Video Highlights: Coal Street didn’t offer any.
Let’s Go Pens!