Chirps from Center Ice

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

Baby Steps — Pens WIN 2-1

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I would consider this a successful weekend for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins.

They did everything right Friday and lost, but did everything right.

They did the same thing Saturday and won handily.

Sunday, they played the Atlantic Division’s best team tightly and eked out a 2-1 win on home ice.

4 points out of 6 when you should have got all 6 is okay. It’s excellent considering that you had just on in seven contests coming into the weekend.

Saturday, they theme was crawl before you walk. Today, I think you can start taking steps. Baby steps.

They have a lot of firepower up on a taxi squad in Pittsburgh. This present, playing unit in Wilkes-Barre was the best team in PA this weekend. Think of it, 0-7 against Hershey and the Phantoms come into the weekend on a six game win streak. Little ol’ Wilkes-Barre sticks to plan, plays the right way and gets 4 out of 6 points to start the climb out of the basement.

Tommy Nappier opposed Pheonix Copley.

Here’s how they lined up:

Lineup Notes: J.D. Forrest said on the pregame as I was driving in that Nappier earned back to back starts. Patrick Watling replaced Pascal Laberge up front.

First Period: No scoring. Pens spent a good majority in the offensive zone, and you could argue, despite a 7-7 even shot count, that Wilkes-Barre was the better team in the period.

Second Period: A power play goal by Alex Nylander had the Penguins out front. Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either and I was at the game, my first since the Friday after Thanksgiving.

But Hershey would respond in kind with 7.7 left when the Bears version of the Phantoms Felix Robert in Shane Gersich scores on a puck left uncovered by Nappier to tie the game at one.

Puck left uncovered, referee right there on top of it, gotta cover up.

Third Period: Bears opened with a blitzkrieg to start but the Penguins withheld the charge. Pens get caught down low on a shot in their own end and Hershey charges out of the zone on a four on one. Here comes Nathan Legare, the subject of a healthy scratch last weekend, to make a back check and steal the puck away. He finds Patrick Watling, the last to exit the Penguins end on a naked breakaway. Watling,  one of the Wheeling Nailers leading scorers and up on a PTO, does this…

Big goal by a guy filling a hole in a big moment. All you can ask for.

Bears pull Copley for the extra man but don’t find the equalizer.

Three Stars: 3) Alex Nylander (goal) 2) Tommy Nappier (23 saves) 1) Patrick Watling (goal)

The Good: Bears had just one power play opportunity, but the Penguins played that fair and played an overall solid, sixty minute hockey game.

The Bad: Nitpicking, 1/4 on the power play for Wilkes-Barre. It isn’t so close if you score on the delay of game call against Hershey there in the third period.

Turning Point: Legare’s back check and Watling’s goal is what gets it here.

Around the Division: Texas beats Charlotte 6-5. Goaltender Matt Jurusik signed an SPC with Texas and won the game for the Stars. You may remember him as the guy that came out of no where and shut out the Springfield Thunderbirds a few weeks back…Toronto cuts down Lehigh Valley 4-3 in overtime…Providence roughs up Bridgeport 6-3.

Standings: Bears with the loss drop to third in the division on .603 points to Providence and Springfield’s .621 and .606 respectively. Hartford (.597) Charlotte (.563) Lehigh Valley (.467) Bridgeport (.446) and the Penguins in last at .433.

Wheeling Update: Nailers win in OT in Orlando 4-3. Justin Almeida scored two goals and the OT game winner.

Video Highlights:

Back at it Wednesday against Lehigh Valley.

Let’s Go Pens!

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