There is a lot to say about the headline tonight. I think that the way that the Crunch approach the gameplay against the Penguins gives Wilkes-Barre fits and they can’t seem to overcome.
After a two goal first, the Crunch use a two goal second to race away from the Pens Friday night in front of the first home crowd of the 2021 season and spoil the festivities by winning 5-2.
Emil Larmi opposed Chris Gibson. One goalie was fantastic, the other not so.
Here’s how they lined up:
Lineup Notes: Zach Trotman returned, replacing Billy Sweezy. Up front, Drew O’Connor replaced the recently recalled Radim Zohorna.
First Period: Pens had the only two power play opportunities of the period, but didn’t score. The story here was that seconds after each penalty was killed, the Crunch would score.
Gabe Fortier with this goal, which should not have happened this way.
Later, the Crunch would score on a more conventional play, a drop pass to Sean Day and a hell of a shot.
On the power play, the setups were there but the finishes weren’t.
Second Period: Two goals within the games first five minutes and within approximately 70 seconds of one another were the Pens undoing.
Boris Katchouk with a snap shot which beats Larmi for a 3-0 Syracuse lead.
Then Sean Day again.
The defense was, um, not good? Can’t really put it all on Larmi really, but J.D. Forrest decided to make the change in net. In comes Shane Starrett.
Starrett settled things down from there, the bucket of cold water woke up the Penguins defense and they started to tighten up, but faces a steep hill to climb.
Tim Schaller got one back a couple minutes later to get Wilkes-Barre on the board.
Third Period: Penguins pepper Gibson for 17 shots in the third, allow Syracuse only 4, get two early power plays to try to set momentum, and come up with bupkis.
Drew O’Connor does get one to go on a four on three after tensions boiled over to get the Penguins to within two…
But Gibson and the Crunch made sure they didn’t get any closer.
Brady Keeper hits a long empty netter to seal it.
Three Stars: 3) Tim Schaller (goal) 2) Otto Somppi (two assists) 1) Sean Day (two goals)
I would have gave Christopher Gibson the second star. He made 39 saves.
The Good: Progress is a return to normalcy. I am not planning on returning until at least the Fall, but damn was it good to see live humans in the stands at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
The Bad: You can’t get boat raced 4-0 and expect to win. Not against any team and certainly not against the Syracuse Crunch.
Turning Point: Boris Katchouk’s goal early in the third set the tone and broke the back of the Penguins.
They are scheduled to play Sunday in Allentown, depending on what the Lehigh Valley situation is with COVID and how well they have it under control. Syracuse has their game with Utica postponed, so who knows, maybe the Pens return the favor and head to Syracuse Sunday. Stay tuned.
Let’s Go Pens!