I had this to say when I found out that Filip Lindberg was getting the start in net Saturday night in Wilkes-Barre, where I was expecting Alex D’Orio.
Maybe. Alex D’Orio didn’t dress, Tommy Nappier from The Ohio State University backed up and apparently Louis Domingue is injured. So Lindberg needed to step up and step up he did.
Penguins win 2-1, led by their Finnish players in Lindberg with goals by Niclas Almari and Vallteri Puustinen. A strong start to the season keeping Lehigh Valley’s high powered offense in check.
Here’s how they lined up:
Notes: Sam Houde was in for Anthony Angello, who was a mystery scratch. I think they are looking to protect him in case of the inevitable Pittsburgh injury.
First Period: Puustinen opens his account as the Penguins scored on the first power play of the season with this dart that gave Wilkes-Barre a 1-0 lead:
Jamie Devane massacred Brennan Saulnier in a fight. I don’t see many one sided fights at this level often, this was a mauling.
Shots were 13-6 Phantoms. Lindberg faced a firing squad in the period and looked unfazed and undaunted.
Second Period: Lehigh Valley draws even when Tyson Foerster beats Lindberg on a quick shot off a transition rush. Penguins were taking too many silly penalties for my liking and Lehigh Valley finally broke through on the power play.
(no GIF of the Foerster goal, sorry)
Third Period: Niclas Almari had a seeing eye shot go in. Defender gave him too much time and space and Almari set up and chose his shot placement carefully.
Lindberg continued to dazzle, making a huge stop on Connor Bunnaman that preserved the 2-1 lead Wilkes-Barre had at the time.
I didn’t think at any point they were nursing a lead, maybe when they were up 1-0, but after getting scored on to tie the game back at one it seemed that was the cold slap in the face that they needed to get them going in the right direction.
With Sandstrom pulled for the extra attacher, the visitors never found the equalizer.
The Good: My expectations are low, but man they looked good. Phantoms have some big time scorers on their team and the Penguins held them all in check. You have something special with Lindberg in goal and Puustinen I thought was at times the best player on the ice.
The Bad: The silly too many men penalties they took in the second spoiled what could have been a shutout for Lindberg in his pro debut.
Turning Point: I thought I had it when they killed off one of the penalties about midway in the second. Lindberg was dialed in and nothing was going to get past him. The next power play they score, so out the window goes that idea. Give to to Almari after his goal which set the pace for the Penguins who seemed to settle down coming out of the chute for the third and played better with the lead then they did the first time they had it.
Around the Division: Hershey beats Charlotte 5-2. Five different scorers for the Bears and they also struck twice on the power play….Providence beats Bridgeport 2-1 in a shootout….Springfield clips Hartford 2-1 at home. Lots of 2-1 scores tonight.
Standings: It’s too early for this. Plus, they are doing them by percentage points this year.
Back here on the blog after the 3 p.m. Sunday game with Charlotte. No pregame setup, I kind of gave it to you in the Weekend Preview. I think you should see D’Orio with probably Nappier backing up. I’ll be wrong again though probably.
Out the door, it was cool to be there Saturday for some history.
Didn’t notice the referees much tonight. That’s a good thing.
Let’s Go Pens!