Chirps from Center Ice

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

Man the Toropchenkos! — Pens LOSE 5-4 (SO)


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I don’t know if there is such a thing as a good loss, but this game, a 5-4 shootout loss to the Atlantic Division leading Springfield Thunderbirds, sure felt like one.

The Penguins finally scored a power play goal, two of them in fact and back to back and raced out to a 3-0 lead on the Thunderbirds but it was Springfield scoring late in the first.

Then in the second.

Then twice in the third to take a 4-3 lead before Cam Lee scored to tie the game at 4.

Penguins have to kill about :33 of two man disadvantage but get the game to overtime.

They scored once in the shootout and we did not.

It’s a good performance because the Penguins raced ahead of the Thunderbirds and managed to eke out a point in a shootout loss. They caught a good Springfield team flat footed and tried to fend off a furious rush by the Atlantic leading Thunderbirds. It’s a lot to build off of.

Louis Domingue opposed Joel Hofer. I mentioned in the Weekend Setup that if Domingue didn’t face a big workload you may see him Saturday in Providence again. He faced 40 shots tonight, so expect Tommy Nappier from THEE Ohio State University Saturday.

Here’s how they lined up…

Lineup Notes: All four big guns (O’Connor, Riikola, Joseph and Domingue) from Pittsburgh were in the lineup replacing Sam Houde and Dylan MacPherson (who aren’t even in town anymore because they were sent to Wheeling) and Chris Bigras.

It was mentioned before the game that goaltender Filip Lindberg is week to week with a lower body injury.

First Period: It took all of 63 seconds for the Penguins to get on the board with Radim Zohorna scoring to put Wilkes-Barre up 1-0.

Then, back to back power play goals. What team is this?

Oh, yes. A team that got help from a healthy Pittsburgh Penguins team.

Drew O’Connor on a rebound of a Juuso Riikola shot.

Then Filip Hallander off a nice setup from Valtteri Puustinen on the second power play goal in a row.

That sound you may have head was me hitting the floor as all of this was occurring in real time.

Some notes on these goals. First, it’s the quickest goal scored by the Penguins so far this season and Juuso Riikola had the secondary assist on all three goals.

The Penguins would see the Thunderbirds push back at all three ties that Springfield would get scored on. Nathan Todd had a few quality shots on Domingue.

Alexey Toropchenko goes up the ice and scored to get the Thunderbirds on the board.

I didn’t like the way that the period ended for the Penguins. Seemed like they let off a bit.

Second Period: It carried over into the second period. Seemed like the Penguins were getting flattened every shift. Domingue bailed them out on a three against one shorthanded bid and then Matt Peca scored here to cut the Penguins lead to one:

It seemed like the Penguins didn’t have a big danger scoring opportunity at all in the period until the last minute of the period where they started to pepper Hofer for some shots he was able to turn away.

Third Period: Alexey Toropchenko and Tanner Kaspick score :41 apart to give the Thunderbirds a 4-3 lead.

Hardly ideal, but not like you couldn’t see it coming with the run of play the Pens were on in the second period.

On top of that, the Pens found themselves on the wrong end of a 5-on-3 situation but were able to get out of that OK.

But not before Cam Lee scores to tie the game up again.

They were outshot by a 2:1 clip (12-6 for the period) but managed to get the game to…

Overtime: They went end to end without a whistle in a ferocious, frenetic 5 minute race, but no one scored.

Shootout: Hugh McGing scores in the top of the second round for the Thunderbirds and Drew O’Connor, Radim Zohorna and Valtteri Puustinen all missed on their chances, in that order.

Here’s McGing’s shot:

Three Stars: Juuso Riikola (three assists) 2) Mackenzie MacEachern (two assists) 1) Alexey Toropchenko

The Good: They scored a pair of power play goals and were perfect on the penalty kill.

The Bad: They figured out special teams tonight, but seemed to forget everything else five on five, where Springfield was the better team tonight.

Turning Point: Could go a lot of places here. The kill on the 5-on-3 in the third or the Cam Lee shot that forces OT. Give it to McGing and his goal in the second round of the shootout which put the heat on the Pens for good.

Around the Division: Utica has set an AHL record at the expense of the Charlotte Checkers winning their twelfth straight game to start the season. The Comets are 12-0 after beating the Checkers 4-1….Providence beats Hartford 2-1 in overtime after Oskar Steen’s goal just :26 into the extra period for the P-Bruins. Lehigh Valley loses again, this time in a shootout in Rochester 5-4.

Standings: Springfield .786 percentage points / Hartford .733 / Providence and Hershey .577 / Charlotte .536 / Penguins .500 / Bridgeport .433 / Lehigh Valley .333

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were out in Indy tonight and lost 5-2. Chris Ortiz and Matt Alfaro had the goals. Alex D’Orio stops 26 of 30.

If the Thunderbirds or Penguins post highlights I’ll see if I can run the edit here.

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