One of my vices is a fine cigar. I prefer Ashton Churchills. Takes about an hour to smoke on a summer day.
One of the things I don’t like about the Fall is the fact that it gets too cold to have cigars and it’s way too cold too.
Anyway, the saying, “close but no cigar” applies to tonight’s game in Hartford, one that the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins lose 4-3 in regulation.
The Penguins trailed 4-0 in the third period and battled all the way back to 4-3 with just :43 left in regulation and never found the equalizing goal.
Seems like if the game was five minutes longer the Penguins would have indeed found the equalizing goal.
Regardless, after taking 5 of 6 points last week, the Penguins take 0 of 6 and are in a bit of a free fall. Shutout Wednesday in Allentown, outclassed on special teams Friday at home against Providence and time running out on what would have been an epic comeback Saturday in Hartford.
Schedule doesn’t get any easier, Rochester comes in Wednesday and then Charlotte for a pair.
Louis Domingue opposed Tyler Wall.
Here’s how they lined up:
Lineup Notes: Matt Alfaro was returned to Wheeling Saturday afternoon. Justin Almeida replaced Jan Drozg up front, Chris Bigras replaced Niclas Almari on defense.
Hartford never posted lines.
First Period: Pens try a D to D handoff in their own zone and Tanner Fritz scores to put the Wolf pack up 1-0.
Later Anthony Bitteto throws a puck at the net that may have been deflected in but it’s a 2-0 Hartford lead nevertheless.
Then Cam Lee runs over Patrick Khodorenko with this hit.
Lee was assessed a check to the head match penalty and was thrown out of the game. The Wolf Pack were awarded a 5:00 power play they did not score on.
Later the Penguins were awarded a power play but failed to score on that.
Second Period: The Penguins outchanced the Wolf Pack for a good stretch in the period. The fourth line in. particular did remarkably well and got a fair amount of shifts. Sadly, chances are just that. Tyler Wall played rather well for someone that played with a 3.58 GAA and a sub .865 SV% last season.
Tim Gettinger threw salt in the wound and scored a shorthanded goal.
Penguins were just :12 into a power play. So they lost power play in Hartford’s zone, sees the Wolf Pack skate in and Gettinger scores. Yikes.
They also continued to out chance the Wolf Pack with a breakaway by Kasper Bjorkqvist and an excellent chance by Sam Poulin.
Third Period: Lauri Pajuniemi scores a power play goal when a puck deflected off of Chris Ortiz and in that gives Hartford a 4-0 lead.
Then the Penguins score goals :23 apart. Jonathan Gruden finds Felix Robert who scores to put the Penguins on the board:
Then Jordy Bellerive. seconds later on a blast an it’s 4-2:
Penguins would then go on the power play but failed to score. They had a lot of power plays tonight, seven to be exact, and failed to score on all of them.
Sam Poulin scores with an extra attacker with :43 left:
But the Penguins never found the equalizer. Jordy Bellerive had a last second shot.
But there are no cigars in close hockey games and usually no cigars for this writer in November.
Three Stars: 3) Anthony Bitetto (goal) 2) Jonny Brodzinski (two assists) 1) Tanner Fritz (goal, assist)
The Good: Nice way to battle back despite the unfortunate result.
The Bad: Can’t go 0-for-7 on the power play. Especially when you are chasing the score. Power play is now 0-for the last 20.
Turning Point: The time out that Wolf Pack Head Coach Kris Knoblauch called after the Penguins second goal reset his club and the Penguins continued to press, but couldn’t find any success whatsoever on the man advantage.
Around the Division: Providence goes into Hershey and shuts out the Bears 3-0….Springfield still hasn’t lost in regulation and beats Bridgeport 4-1….Charlotte obliterates Lehigh Valley 7-3.
Standings: Springfield .889 – Hartford .750 – Hershey .611 – Charlotte .563 – Providence .556 – Penguins .550 – Bridgeport .400 – Lehigh Valley .222
Wheeling Update: Wheeling hosted Fort Wayne in the Nailers home opener and the Komets won big, 5-2 was the final score. Box here.
Video Highlights: If the Penguins get one up and I can get an edit in, it will go here.
Power Rankings Tuesday. Weekend Preview setting up Rochester on Wednesday then Charlotte Friday and Saturday hits the Wednesday morning.
Don’t forget to turn your clocks back.
Let’s Go Pens!