It took him till January, but Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins goaltender Alex D’Orio finally picked up his first win of the season last Friday against the Toronto Marlies.
Looking at D’Orio’s body of work leading up to it, the Penguins didn’t really give him any run support in the five decisions he lost.
Maybe it wasn’t so much about run support vs. workload because D’Orio, appearing in six of the last seven games and his sixth straight D’Orio shuts out the Cleveland Monsters with an 18 save effort and the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins win 4-0.
A yeoman like effort for D’Orio, who has all the confidence in the world right now and maybe, singlehandedly pulling the Penguins back into contention. If I am head coach J.D. Forrest, I go right back to D’Orio in the Saturday rematch with the Monsters.
Here’s how they lined up:
Lineup Notes: Tommy Nappier is out of COVID protocols and backed up…Michael Chaput returned from injury and Jan Drozg was back in up front for Felix Robert (out with non-COVID illness) and Sam Houde (week to week with upper body injury)
First Period: Decent first period for the Penguins who raced out to a 2-0 lead.
I thought that Cleveland had the better quality of shots if that makes any sense, forcing D’Orio into a few clutch saves, but it was the Penguins getting some dirty goals that put them ahead at the first intermission.
Valtteri Puustinen’s shot, rebound, shot caromed off of Sam Poulin and in for a 1-0 lead.
Later, Taylor Fedun’s goal from the blue line and from way downtown went in to make it 2-0 with under a minute to play.
Second Period: Nothing in the way of scoring here. Late in the period every stop by a goalie was met with pushing and having and linesmen Joe Sherman and Dan Kovachik had their hands full trying to separate the players. Referees Sean Fernandez and Brandon Blandina did a fine job in keeping out of it.
Here’s a nice save by Alex D’Orio from the period.
Both teams had power plays in the period (the Penguins took a too many men and Cleveland took an interference call) but neither team did anything memorable on the man advantage.
Third Period: Goals by Anthony Angello and Jonathan Gruden buried the Monsters. Angello was set up by Alex Nyander from a nice pass in the corner and for Gruden, his first AHL goal of the season which came on a 4-on-1.
Penguins then got a 7:00 power play after Brett Gallant jumped Michael Chaput. No penalty was assessed on the Penguin in the fracas and Gallanty received an instigating and fighting penalty along with a misconduct and aggressor penalty.
Not only did the Penguins not score on this extended power play, but they took a too many men penalty to boot.
The whole night, the Penguins didn’t take any stick or physical penalties, just too many men and puck over glass penalties.
Three Stars: 3) Taylor Fedun (goal) 2) Sam Poulin (goal) 1) Alex D’Orio (18 save shutout)
The Good: They are turning a corner I think. The answer on whether they really have or not may get answered next week when it’s a menu full of divisional opponents.
The Bad: They couldn’t score a goal during a 7:00 power play? Really? Then they took a too many men call? Wow.
Turning Point: Gonna go with Angello’s goal. Monsters were looking for a spark and instead of a spark they got a rainstorm. After that it was elementary for the Penguins, with just the only question left unanswered being whether D’Orio would preserve his clean sheet.
Around the Division: Charlotte beats Utica in OT up in New York 4-3….ex-Penguin Jeff Taylor scores a goal in regulation and in the shootout as the Hartford Wolf Pack take down the Providence Bruins 5-4 in a shootout….Springfield thumps Lehigh Valley 6-2.
Standings: Penguins move to sixth in the Atlantic over idle Bridgeport and after Lehigh Valley lost. They have a .472 win percentage.
Wheeling Update: Nailers are out in Cincinnati and losing to the Cyclones. Box here.
These two teams rematch Saturday at 7. More after that contest.
Let’s Go Pens!