Chirps from Center Ice

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

Preheat the Oven — Pens LOSE 5-3


3                                        5

Seasons cooked, folks.

The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins slip to below .500 with a 5-3 loss to the Hershey Bears Wednesday night. Pens and Bears were the only game in the Atlantic Division, so the Penguins, who used to gave a cache of games in hand on a ton of divisional opponents, now have one more game played than 4th place (58 points) Springfield, 6th place (55) Hartford, 7th place (54) Bridgeport. The Penguins are in last with 52 points.

Season is cooked.

Lines were…

Lineup Notes: Lots to get to so please keep up. Drake Caggiula will be recalled.

Filip Hallander is non-COVID sick. So Justin Addamo, signed to his 700th PTO this morning, went in and Colin Swoyer who is a defenseman, slotted in at forward.

Andrew Nielsen made his WBS debut, paired with Taylor Fedun on defense.

Injuries: Goaltender Lindberg is day to day with an upper body injury. Ty Smith and Jonathan Gruden are week to week. J.D. Forrest is more optimistic on Gruden’s week to week then he is Ty Smith.

Speculation: Gruden and Smith were injured the last time the Pens were in Allentown. Gruden was slammed into the bench by ex-Penguin Garrett Wilson. If I had to bet a dime it’s a broken rib. You just give that time. Ty Smith took a puck off the face, returned with a bubble but hasn’t been seen since. He was at the dentist on the next day, Sunday, and hasn’t been seen since. If I had to bet a dime it’s a broken jaw. You wire that shut and eat through a straw.

Trades and Other Transactions: 

DiLiberatore will report to Wilkes-Barre. He has three assists with AHL Henderson and three assists with ECHL Savannah. Not exactly lighting the world on fire.

Both players cleared waivers today. We can use all the help we can get.

OK now onto the game.

First Period: Bears score first when Henrik Borgstrom walks through three guys, draws a penalty and scores about halfway through to give the Bears a 1-0 lead.

But then the Penguins, who Nick Hart mentioned had the best power play in the entire AHL during the month of February, struck off a power play goal when Justin Addamo scored on a tip in front to put the Penguins level with the Bears.

Second Period: Taylor Fedun is a problem.

First, the Penguins were outshot 14-4. That’s not on Fedun. The Bears are good. They are well coached and coming off of probably their worst month of the season. They haven’t won in three games and are neck and neck with Providence for the division lead. They needed a response coming out for the second period tied with a last place team and took advantage.

Where Fedun became a problem were highlighted on the two Bears goals in the period.

Ethen Frank with a one time bomb on a power play from the near dot ala Chris Bourque puts the Hershey Bears up 2-1.

Baffling that they allow a guy who leads the Bears in goals that much time and space on a power play. Like you know the guy is going to get the puck and you know the guy is going to shoot it. But here’s Fedun just coasting to the slot like a robot hoping to deflect a bullet out of a cannon. Good luck.

Then, with under a minute to play and the Penguins still hanging around, the Penguins captain gets caught crossing up his new defenseman partner in Nielsen, leaving Tokarski out to dry and giving Joe Snively, another Penguins killer, all the time in the world to deflect in a shot and give Hershey a two goal lead.

As Charles Barkley would say, that’s turrible, Ernie.

Third Period: Wilkes-Barre shows some tenacity and actually battles back to tie the game.

Penguins cash another power play goal with Justin Addamo again when Nathan Legare’s shot is blocked to Addamo in the slot. Addamo goes for a pass to a streaking forward down the opposite side and that is blocked. Addamo then just flips a backhander past Fucale to pull the Pens to within one.

Later, Alex Nylander scores on a breakaway when he jukes Fucale back to York, PA and ties the game at three.

Penguins navigate safely out of a Hershey power play, but then are let down by their goaltender when Joe Snively goes into the corner, sees daylight and fires a shot past Dustin Tokarski to put the Bears ahead with just over four minutes left to play.

That’s probably a save that Dustin Tokarski makes 10 times out of 10 on any given day, but on this particular instance, it’s a save he doesn’t make at a costly time during the hockey game.

Mike Vecchione scores on an empty netter and that’s the ballgame.

Three Stars: 3) Justin Addamo (two goals) 2) Mike Sgarbossa (three assists) 1) Joe Snively (two goals, assist)

The Good: I liked the way they battled back in the third period there. They could have packed it in but used the power play to get them back into it and one of their horses in Nylander to get them even.

The Bad: Fedun had a forgettable defensive game which will be erased by the team getting it back to even, but the veteran goaltender doesn’t make what appears to be a routine save and the Penguins fall further into the abyss of the handful of teams which won’t make AHL playoffs this season.

Turning Point: Seemed like this Wednesday game had a ton of them and it did, but it’s the Snively late goal that gets the nomination here.

Around the Division: As I said off the hop, Pens / Bears was the only game in the Atlantic Division.

Standings: Hershey 73 – Providence 72 – Charlotte 65 – Springfield 58 – Lehigh Valley 58 – Hartford 55 – Bridgeport 54 – Penguins 52

Wheeling Update: Nailers were off.

Video Highlights: 

Back at it Saturday in Cleveland outside at the football stadium.

Let’s Go Pens!

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