Bolstered by a hat trick from Filip Hallander, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins survived a scare from a pesky Bridgeport Islanders team on Saturday night and win 5-3.
Without Hallander’s offense output tonight, I’m not so sure that the Penguins win the game tonight.
Drew O’Connor and Anthony Angello added goals for the Penguins. Tommy Nappier stopped 28 of 31 saves.
So far, 5 of 6 points for the Penguins, one off what I said I would be comfortable with back on Monday when I set up the week with the Weekend Preview. Syracuse in Sunday afternoon, but let’s recap Saturday’s game below:
Tommy Nappier opposed Jakub Skarek. Here’s how the Penguins lined up:
Bridgeport didn’t post lines.
Lineup Notes: P.O. Joseph and Mark Freidman were recalled Thursday. Friedman’s conditioning stint lasted two games. Joseph went up because Mike Matheson is week to week. Joseph didn’t play Saturday afternoon against the New York Rangers but may get a look Sunday afternoon. Alex Nylander missed the game with a non-COVID illness. Felix Robert took his place. Will Reilly and Cam Lee were back in on defense for Wilkes-Barre.
First Period: Pens came out blazing, jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Drew O’Connor took a feed from a pinching Mitch Reinke for a 1-0 lead, then Filip Hallander took a rebound off of Skarek and flipped one past him on the backhand for a 2-0 lead then the Penguins scored on the power play when Anthony Angello scored on a hell of shot high slot to make it 3-0. Here’s all three goals as they were scored.
But then Bridgeport started to muck it up, slow the game down, and it started to work for them.
Parker Wotherspoon pulled one back for the Islanders.
I didn’t particularly like the way the period ended for the Penguins. I realize that if you are being aggressed upon by an opponent you need to defend yourself, but everyone knows what the Islanders are trying to do here, just skate away because you are the one with a 3-0 lead.
Second Period: Things settled down and the Penguins extended their lead to three again with Hallander’s second goal of the night, giving the Penguins a 4-1 lead.
But six seconds into an Islander power play, a shot by Andy Andreoff goes in to cut Bridgeport’s deficit to two again.
The Islanders tenacity is something to behold.
Third Period: That tenacity was on full display in the opening sequences of the period as Bridgeport draws one back when Arnaud Durandeau scored to cut the Penguins lead to one.
Late, the Islanders hit the post with two shots from two different shooters all within about five seconds of one another. Paul LaDue from one angle, then Robin Salo immediately after.
But Filip Hallander had seen enough and scored his hat trick to salt the game away.
Three Stars: Andy Andreoff (goal) 2) Juuso Riikola (two assists) 1) Filip Hallander (three goals)
The Good: Thank goodness for Hallander, right? Puustinen, O’Connor, Riikola and Joseph sometimes carry the mail for the Pens, but Hallander stepped up in a big way here and you want to see that momentum keep going.
The Bad: I don’t want to say that there was a lack of discipline, but I didn’t like the way that played overall in front of Nappier. Hallander’s three takes a lot of the stink out of the room, but the fast and loose type of play doesn’t work for a team that lacks a pure goal scorer. You almost have to play regimented and they lacked that tonight but were lucky enough to get out with two clean points.
Turning Point: Hallander’s third goal gets it here. Game was full of them too.
Around the Division: Cleveland beats Lehigh Valley 2-1…Hartford thumps Providence 5-2…Springfield doubles up Charlotte 4-2. Hershey was off.
Standings: Pens with a gap now to seventh Lehigh Valley. They have .510 percentage points in sixth and the Phantoms have .479. Charlotte, in fifth, is still a ways a way with a .561 percentage. Springfield has a healthy lead at the top of the division over Hartford, .630 to .609.
Wheeling Update: Nailers blast the Kalamazoo Wings 8-2. Patrick Watling two goals, three assists. Sam Houde had a goal and two helpers. Only three Nailers skaters didn’t register a point.
Video Highlights: Pens will have them. You are probably on your own for those. I’m not likely to get an edit in.
More Sunday after the matinee with the Crunch.
Let’s Go Pens!