It’s not something to be that proud of, but the Penguins with this win Saturday night, are solidly in sixth place in the Atlantic Division after a dominating 3-2 win over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Wait. Dominating? A one goal win if dominating? Since when?
Penguins outshoot the Phantoms 35-22. They didn’t take a penalty. They clearly were the better team from the jump.
It sets up a huge midweek showdown in Charlotte Tuesday and Wednesday. The Checkers currently hold the five seed in the Atlantic.
Tommy Nappier opposed Kirill Ustimenko.
Here’s how they lined up:
Lineup: Filip Hallander was out with a non-COVID illness. I guess we have to highlight COVID vs. non-COVID from here going forward. Sam Houde went to the top line. Will Reilly went in on defense for Cam Lee.
First Period: No scoring. No penalties. Pens showed flashes with under five to play highlighted here on the splay by Nathan Legare.
Shots were 13-4. Pens were good, but Ustimenko was better.
Second Period: Two goals :34 apart to open the period for the Penguins and it looked like the rout was on.
Taylor Fedun got the party going just :51 into the period.
Then :34 later, Nathan Legare with a pass to himself then a shot that bleeds through Ustimenko to give the Pens a 2-0 lead.
Lehigh Valley made a push late. Hayden Hodgson lays a big hit on Taylor Fedun which set up Cal O’Reilly scoring to cut the Phantoms deficit in half with a flick of a wrist.
(no GIF of it)
Referees Jordan Samuels-Thomas and Jeremy Tufts stayed out of the way and didn’t call any penalties.
Third Period: P.O. Joseph scored his 8th goal of the season, tying him for the lead in that department among defensemen.
That is an NHL caliber wrist shot. If you want another example, scroll down to the Rochester recap and check out his goal in that one. He’s not long for the AHL if he keeps doing this.
The Phantoms though, stuck around and scored on a redirect by Maksim Sushko that brought them to within one yet again.
(no GIF of this one either)
The Phantoms called timeout and pulled Ustimenko but Nappier and the Penguins defense kept them out. They never found the equalizer.
Three Stars: 3) Maksim Sushko (goal) 2) Taylor Fedun (goal) 1) P. O. Joseph (goal)
The Good: Was a little shocked to see Nappier go in back to back, but having two good goaltenders is a great problem to have. Also good to see the Penguins bounce back and take two clean points out of an in-state rivals rink.
The Bad: Clearly the better team, let the opponent stick around to a one shot possibility. That formula isn’t going to work the later we go.
Turning Point: Joseph’s goal gets it here. Phantoms were better as the period wore on. Plan coming out of the third was not to let the Penguins score another to go back up two.
Around the Division: Checkers shutout Bridgeport 2-0.…Springfield blows up a depleted Providence side 5-1….Hershey wins a close one at home against Belleville 5-4….Hartford needs overtime to beat Rochester 2-1.
Standings: Springfield .622 percentage points — Hartford .619 – Hershey .614 – Providence .579 – Charlotte .558 – Penguins .500 – Lehigh Valley .476 – Bridgeport .467
Wheeling Update: Nailers win in overtime 4-3 against Fort Wayne. Sean Josling with the game winner in that one.
Video Highlights: If the pens post em I will edit them in.
Big one Tuesday against Charlotte. I’ll work on the Power Rankings Sunday and they will be up Monday. Weekend Setup looking at Charlotte and Springfield next Saturday Tuesday morning.
Let’s Go Pens!