Chirps from Center Ice

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

Grits and Gravy — Pens WIN 5-3


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The depleted by callups, injuries and sickness Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins take down the Charlotte Checkers 5-3 at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza on Wednesday night. Charlotte, riding into town on a four game heater and 7-1 against the Pens in the last couple of seasons, go down to the Penguins in what was a hell of a hockey game.

With the win, the Penguins leapfrog to third in the division, over Charlotte.

These two teams rematch Friday.

Here’s how they lined up.

Lineup Notes: Pens called up Chris Ortiz at 10 a.m. and then signed Justin Addamo and Adam Smith to PTOs at 5 p.m. There’s good reason for all of that because Corey Andonovski, Tyler Sikura and Taylor Fedun are sick. Add Xavier Ouellet to the injured list as he is week to week with a lower body injury. Filip Lindberg backed up Taylor Gauthier. New guys in the lineup from last were Justin Addamo and Sean Josling for Sikura / Andonovski up front and Josh Maniscalco and Chris Ortiz for Ouellet and Fedun on defense.

Good news? The top six remained intact.

First Period: Stop me if you have heard this one before but Sam Houde scores the first goal for the Penguins in the third straight such event, this time just 1:13 in.

Game then settled into a bit of a lull that played into the hands of the Penguins, then the penalties started occurring and Connor Bunnaman scored shorthanded for Charlotte, the Checkers sixth such occurrence when he steals a puck at center ice and scores to level the game at a goal a piece.

Then later Henry Bowlby outraces Mitch Reinke for a puck and makes it 2-1 Charlotte.

Great fifteen minutes for the Penguins, a not so good final five minutes.

Second Period: I liked the jam that Lukas Svejkovsky has been displaying of recent and that was on full display here in the period. Valtteri Puustinen scores on a power play to tie the game at two for Wilkes-Barre, then Svejkovsky runs a puck at the net, sees a streaking Houde the far side and passes it and Houde knocks it in. I initially thought it was Svejkovsky’s first goal, but it was indeed Houde. Here are the goals…

I wouldn’t be surprised if they changed that to Svejkovsky.

So the Pens flip the script on the visitors and use a final five-ish minutes to get two goals of their own to take the lead heading into the…

Third Period: Pens transition and get a goal from Alex Nylander. So that top six I was talking about earlier has stepped up when they needed to.

Filip Hållander takes a puck over glass delay of game penalty and then Santtu Kinnunen’s shot off of his stick breaks his stick so the puck isn’t shot as hard. It deflects off of Jon Lizotte and in past Gauthier to bring Charlotte back within one.

Taylor Gauthier had a couple of ten bell saves, notable was one on Gerry Mayhew when the Checkers were sending the house. Charlotte really turned up the wick, but Gauthier and the Pens kept them out.

Jonathan Gruden had a blocked shot that stung, Filip Hållander had the clear to Drake Caggiula who potted the empty net goal to seal it for the home team.

Three Stars: 3) Alex Nylander (goal, assist) 2) Valtteri Puustinen (goal, assist) 1) Sam Houde (two goals)

The Good: Gutsy win that propels them in the right direction. Game in hand good on an idle Hershey. Four point swing against the Checkers.

The Bad: Can’t be taking puck over glass penalties in crunch time.

Turning Point: Didn’t know it at the time but the Nylander goal early in the third gave them the cushion they needed to get across the line.

Around the Division: Only other game in the Atlantic was Providence in Bridgeport. Bruins cruise past the Islanders 5-2.

Standings: Hershey 47 – Providence 45 – Penguins 35 – Checkers 35 – Bridgeport 34 – Springfield 33 – Lehigh Valley 31 – Hartford 28

Wheeling Update: Depleted by callups from their AHL affiliate, the Nailers were off Wednesday.

Video Highlights: 

These two teams rematch Friday in Wilkes-Barer. More then.

Let’s Go Pens!

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