Let’s review the weekend, shall we?
Drew O’Connor is sent down from the Pittsburgh Penguins and on the very first power play the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins go on in Springfield on Friday, Drew O’Connor knocks one home for a power play goal which breaks a 0/36 drought coming into the contest.
Louis Domingue, fresh off a trip up to the NHL club, stops 35 of 39.
On Saturday, Drew O’Connor scores two goals and Louis Domingue stops 42 of 43 as the Penguins beat the Providence Bruins 3-1.
There are a few players in Wilkes-Barre lore that, “stirred the drink” so to speak. Stefan Noesen comes to immediate mind. Drew O’Connor was the best player, far and wide, on the ice wearing an oversized muscular penguin on his chest. He’s probably not long for this AHL world as soon as another Penguins forward goes down with injury he’s on a fast track straight back up again.
Credit Domingue, too. 80+ shots in back to back games on back to back nights is a hell of a work load.
Can they sustain it, can they ride the momentum into Charlotte Tuesday and Wednesday next week?
Domingue opposed Kyle Keyser. I speculated yesterday that with the 40 shots faced in Springfield it may be Tommy Nappier’s game. Well, I was wrong. Here’s how they lined up:
Bruins didn’t post lines. They never do.
Lineup Notes: Forward shuffling below the top line, but no lineup changes.
First Period: Penguins kill two penalties, start to push back a bit and forecheck, a Valtteri Puusitinen shot is saved by Keyser but the rebound spills to Drew O’Connor and is swept in.
Bruins would get another power play but the Penguins remained perfect in the period.
Second Period: Penguins tack on to their lead when a shot from Cam Lee double deflects in off of Kyle Olson and in that gives Wilkes-Barre a 2-0 lead.
Penguins didn’t take any penalties, played a disciplined period and had a few other chances to add on but Kyle Keyser was there to make a stop. Memorable chance was a stop on O’Connor off a 2-on-1 rush.
Third Period: Bruins put the screws to the Penguins and came out of the blocks hot putting immense pressure on the Penguins and Domingue. Finally, Jakub Lauko scores a power play goal on the fifth try of the game for the Bruins special teams unit.
Providence by rights weren’t getting any bounces. Their leading scorer Oskar Steen uncharacteristically whiffed on some shots for one time feeds which could have lead to Penguins danger.
Penguins were on their heels a bit for the final moments but with time dwindling Keyser vacated for the extra attacker and Drew O’Connor connected with the empty net.
Three Stars: 3) Jakub Lauko (goal) 2) Drew O’Connor (two goals) 1) Louis Domingue 42 saves
The Good: They played about as a complete game as you could ask for and won, on the road, against a good opponent.
The Bad: It’s been a while since their last shutout. It will come, but you have to wait a bit longer.
Turning Point: With all the love for O’Connor and Domingue and rightfully so, Kyle Olson’s second period goal took the air out of the sails a bit for the Bruins because what they were doing to that point didn’t work, causing the Bruins to re-work the game plan entirely. That’s when the Penguins handed the reins over to Domingue.
Around the Division: Lehigh Valley loses in overtime in Toronto this afternoon 3-2….Hershey was up 3-2 heading into the third in Hartford and lost 7-3….Springfield beats Bridgeport 2-1.
Standings: Springfield .800 percentage points / Hartford .750 / Charlotte .536 / Providence .536 / Hershey .536 / Penguins .533 / Bridgeport .406 / Lehigh Valley .344
Wheeling Update: Nailers are in Fort Wayne. Box here.
They are back in action Tuesday in Charlotte looking to carry the momentum from this weekend into a two game set in North Carolina. Power Rankings will hit some where in between. I just don’t know when or where.
Let’s Go Pens!