The microcosm of this season came with about a minute left to play in the game.
The Penguins, down 3-2 and with starting goaltender Tommy Nappier pulled for an extra attacker, set up a literal firing squad at Phantoms starting goaltender Felix Sandstrom. They would shoot, and miss. Shoot, and miss or shoot and Sandstom would make the save.
What they could have used in that instance, as they could have used all season long was a finisher.
Wilkes-Barre loses 4-2.
So, Saturday’s game with Bridgeport is essentially huge. More on that below.
Here’s how they lined up:
Lineup Changes: But for the goaltenders, there were none.
First Period: Michael Chaput gets the Penguins on the board first, but Ryan MacKinnon responded a few minutes later to tie it at one. Wilkes-Barre doubled up the Phantoms in shots, 14-7 and killed a couple of penalties. The Phantoms didn’t GIF any goals, but here is the Penguins GIF of the Chaput marker.
Second Period: Just :47 into the period, Kyle Olson scores to put the Penguins ahead 2-1.
Just a nice play all around.
Later, Tanner Laczynski strips Valtteri Puustinen and skates in and beats Nappier for a breakaway goal that tied it at two.
Phantoms caught and passed the Pens in shots in the period. Game was a lot closer than it should have been.
Third Period: Alex Nylander, who left late in the second period after a hit but returned for the third, set up Jonathan Gruden for a decent chance which was denied by Sandstrom.
But it was a Wade Allison bullet over the glove of Nappier which put the Phantoms ahead 3-2 with about 14 minutes left to play in the period.
The Penguins, without the chance to go on a power play and later with Nappier pulled, were not able to find the equalizer. The Phantoms hit an empty net with two seconds left to play.
Three Stars: 3) Ryan MacKinnon (goal) 2) Tanner Laczynski (goal) 1) Wade Allison (goal)
The Good: Woo boy, hard to find one here. Lehigh Valley isn’t making playoffs despite what the snake oil salesmen are selling you. This is a game that a Providence or a Springfield wins easily.
The Bad: If the Penguins barely miss playoffs this season, these two points they left behind in Allentown tonight will be a big reason why.
Turning Point: The Allison goal that gives the Phantoms the lead in the third period gets it here.
Around the Division: Hershey blows a 3-0 lead in Charlotte and lose 5-3….Hartford loses again 3-1 at home against Belleville…. Providence and Springfield played a defensive thriller with the Thunderbirds winning 1-0 in overtime.
Standings: 4) Hershey .539 – 5) Hartford .533 – 6) Bridgeport .516 – 7) Penguins .516
Who Plays Who Tomorrow: Hershey rematches in Charlotte, Hartford hosts Syracuse. Bridgeport is the Penguins opponent Saturday.
Wheeling Update: Nailers lose in overtime to the Indy Fuel 4-3.
Video Highlights: If I see them I will edit them in here.
See you tomorrow for a big one with Bridgeport.
Let’s Go Pens!