The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins didn’t see Springfield Thunderbirds netminder Charlie Lindgren all season. Lindgren was one of the top goaltenders for the Thunderbirds in the AHL and yet the Penguins, who played the Thunderbirds six times this season, didn’t see him.
Lindgren made fifty saves in Game 1 of the Atlantic Division Semifinals Wednesday night. Springfield wins 4-1 and lead the best of five series 1-0. Game 2 is Thursday at 7.
Besides the fact that the Penguins didn’t score on one of three straight power plays in the second period and all of the rubber stopped by Lindgren throughout the course of sixty minutes, all things considered, it was pretty even. I know that sounds weird, but one of those goals scored by the Thunderbirds was an empty netter, the other was a two on one in the third period.
It will be interesting to see how Wilkes-Barre adjusts and responds Thursday. We don’t have to wait long.
Here’s how they lined up:
Lineup Notes: Springfield got help from St. Louis in the form of a Mackenzie MacEachern on a conditioning loan, and Dakota Joshua and Steven Santini on straight assignments. For Wilkes-Barre, Anthony Angello returned from injury and replaced Sam Houde. Injury wise, Michal Chaput is not on the trip, Taylor Fedun is and took morning skate.
First Period: Will Bitten scores a power play goal to put the Thunderbirds up 1-0 past halfway in the period. There was a review on account of a possible kick, but the goal stood.
Sam Poulin gets a good chance off of a one timer which Lindgren gets most of it. The other part he doesn’t rolls past him but hits the post and stays out.
At the end of the period, Will Bitten and Tommy Nappier came together and well, I’ll let the pictures tell the story.
Bitten and Nappier would pick up offsetting minors.
Second Period: At the expiration of a Penguins power play, Felix Robert would score to tie the game.
That’s the first goal the Thunderbirds have given up in three and a half plus games. The Thunderbirds shutout their last three opponents in the regular season.
After another power play for the Penguins, Klim Kostin with a bullet which beats Nappier low to re-establish the Thunderbirds lead.
I’m writing the game story on the fly so I’m here typing this in the second intermission, I’m getting at the fact that Penguins had another power play after the Kostin goal but didn’t score. That’s three consecutive power plays for Wilkes-Barre / Scranton. Let’s hope this doesn’t end up in “The Bad” at the end of this game story.
Third Period: After the Penguins killed a too many men penalty, Matthew Peca and Sam Anas came charging in on a two on one. Anas didn’t miss, sniping one over the glove of Tommy Nappier to make it a 3-1 Thunderbirds lead.
(No GIF here, use your imagination. Juuso Riikola was the lone Penguin defender back)
The Penguins continued to throw rubber at the Thunderbirds net. They managed 17 shots in each period. The Thunderbirds only had 4 shots in the third period. Two went in, one on an empty net when Dakota Joshua, who woke up in St. Louis, Missouri this morning, scored to put the game out of reach for the Penguins.
Three Stars: 3) Klim Kostin (goal, assist) 2) Will Bitten (goal, assist) 1) Charlie Lindgren (50 saves)
The Good: No flies on the Penguins here after a battle with Hershey in the First Round. 51 shots is something you want. You win more games being aggressive like that then you lose.
The Bad: Well, I’m now writing this paragraph after the game and those three straight power plays that the Penguins didn’t score on isn’t good, especially when it seems power plays are hard to come by in these Calder Cup Playoffs….The Penguins are now 3-11 in Game 1’s of Division Semifinals. That’s…something. It’s not good, but it’s something.
Turning Point: The Anas goal in the third or the save Lindgren had on Poulin in the first. Pick one, or both. The Anas goal tipped the scales for good for the Thunderbirds. The Lindgren save helped it get there.
Talk to you again Thursday after Game 2.
Let’s Go Pens!