Chirps from Center Ice

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

Spookin’ Gruden — Pens WIN 3-1


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What the heck is it going to take for the Penguins to get Louis Domingue a shutout?

Domingue made 30 saves and put on a master class in goal yet again for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins who defeat the Lehigh Valley Phantoms 3-1 Wednesday.

A shorthanded goal by Jonathan Gruden stands up as the game winner and Gruden’s empty net goal, when the Penguins were feeling the pressure nursing a one goal lead late, sealed it.

The Penguins vault to fifth in the Atlantic Division over the idle Hartford Wolf Pack. More on all this in a bit.

Domingue opposed Felix Sandstrom.

Here’s how they lined up:

Lineup Notes: Alex Nylander was out with a non-COVID illness. Nathan Legare went in for him.

First Period: Sam Poulin opens the scoring for the Pens off a rebound of a Felix Robert shot that went like this.

Good pace by the Pens in the period who were rewarded with a lead.

Second Period: Penguins weren’t doing themselves any favors, taking three straight penalties in the period, but on that third penalty, like a charm, Jonathan Gruden takes a Drew O’Connor pass and scores to give the Penguins a cushion and a 2-0 lead.

Third Period: Pens put up a paltry three shots. Louis Domingue earned his bread and bailed the Penguins out time after time. He was beat by a nice Hayden Hodgson wrist shot that finally put the Phantoms on the board.

(no GIF here)

Phantoms were pressuring. But with time dwindling, they call timeout. Jonathan Gruden scored into an empty net.

If you are thinking to yourself he does this a lot (scoring into empty nets) you are right. It was his fourth empty net goal of the season.

That took off a ton of pressure. The win by the Penguins should finally quell the pseudo hope that the Phantoms had at making playoffs.

Three Stars: 3) Sam Poulin (goal) 2) Louis Domingue (30 saves) 1) Jonathan Gruden (two goals)

The Good: Needed this to get up to fifth and they got it. I liked the methodical takedown of the Phantoms. Also, shout out to the penalty kill. It has been stout, which was on full display tonight.

The Bad: Where would they be if they didn’t have Louis Domingue? They need to get this man his overdue shutout.

Turning Point: The Gruden empty netter took off the immense pressure that the Phantoms were laying on. Rare that an empty net goal does it, but I think it was the turning point.

Around the Division: Rare that on a Wednesday, no other divisional action exists.

Standings: 3) Providence .600 4) Hershey .538 5) Penguins .530 6) Hartford .534 7) Bridgeport .500

Who Plays Who: Hartford plays their first of three in Charlotte Thursday. On Friday, Bridgeport hosts Providence. Hartford and Charlotte rematch. Lehigh Valley hosts Hershey.

Wheeling Update: Nailers beat the Iowa Heartlanders out in Iowa 6-4. Justin Almeida and Patrick Watling score goals.

Video Highlights: If I see them and can work the edit in, it will go here.

Enjoy the Friday off. Let’s Go Pens!

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