I’m not going to GIF all 13 of these goals tonight.
It was 4-1 in favor of the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins in the first period. Springfield thunders back to tie the game in the second period then pulls ahead in the third. They win Game 3 7-6 and sweep the Penguins out of the Atlantic Division Semifinals.
The Penguins got in a fire fight with a team full of gasoline and it almost worked, but they faced a barrage in the second they were not able to overcome.
I don’t have anything bad to say about the team. They were in last in December. They battled back to a respectable fourth. They beat Hershey in the First Round of the playoffs and lost to a Springfield team which was better than them in nearly every aspect and were swept out.
Sure, the turning point of the season is probably when Casey DeSmith goes down in Game 1 and makes Louis Domingue the de facto number one starter. The idea is that Jarry makes it back, Domingue goes back down and steals the series against Springfield.
I still didn’t like the Penguins chances against who I think wins the Bridgeport – Charlotte series and that’s the Checkers.
So if you don’t make it out of the Division and win the Calder Cup, does it really matter?
Anyway, let’s get into it.
Here’s how they lined up. Cam Lee came out for Colin Swoyer.
First Period: Guns blazing for the Penguins, just 2:45 in and Jonathan Gruden scores to make it 1-0 Penguins. They get a power play and don’t score or even get a shot on starting goaltender Charlie Lindgren for Springfield.
Springfield then gets a power play and Sam Anas scores to tie the game at one.
Penguins push ahead with a goal by Filip Hallander and again with a power play goal by Sam Poulin. Nathan Legare makes up for the penalty that led to the Anas power play goal with a goal of his own that makes it 4-1 Penguins.
Second Period: Complete role reversal. Penguins get in penalty trouble. The officiating was awful Sunday. Justin Kea is probably going to be a full time NHL referee one day, but if he throws clunkers like today, it won’t be for long. Rob Hennessy is an overmatched hack who just fills a referee suit. He’s awful and needs to be carried by the other guy.
Anyway, Will Bitten scores (kicks) a goal to make it 4-2 on a 5-on-3 for the Thunderbirds. A long review by Kea / Hennessy and the goals stands. Then Steven Santini scores through a screen and it’s 4-3. Then Dakota Joshua ties the game at four.
It was a blitzkrieg of goals for the Thunderbirds under an avalanche of shots. Wilkes-Barre was outshot by a 4:1 margin at one point.
Third Period: I wondered if the comeback for Springfield would have taken all the starch out of them and the Penguins, as long as they played it close, would be fine and make it to a Game 4.
I was wrong.
Matthew Peca scores a rebound goal to make it 5-4 Springfield. Then 6-4 when Tommy Nappier stabs the puck with his blocker and up into the ai where Mackenzie MacEachern is waiting to whack it in for a 6-4 lead.
Sam Poulin brings the Pens back to within one with his second of the game.
But then Jonathan Gruden throws a puck out of play and the Pens are down a man and their best penalty killer and Hugh McGing scores a power play to reestablish the Springfield two goal lead in the third period.
Alex Nylander scores the final goal of the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins season. WIth Tommy Nappier pulled, the Penguins never found the equalizer.
Three Stars: 3) Matthew Peca (goal, two assists) 2) Sam Anas (goal, three assists) 1) Hugh McGing (goal)
The Good: Several of you won’t agree, but it was a successful season for the Penguins. Fourth place finish with this group? Get me a finisher and a little more steadier defense and goaltending and we will see where this goes.
The Bad: Another season, another playoff exit.
Turning Point: Alex Nylander turned the season around for the Pens. Losing Zohorna and Domingue and O’Connor hurt the Penguins chances against beating Springfield, but rest assured, I don’t think they make it past Charlotte or beyond.
Video Highlights: All 13 of the goals described above should be here:
Thanks for following along this season. I’ll be around. Have a great summer!
Let’s Go Pens!