The Charlotte Checkers didn’t lead at all in the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins season finale game except for when Anthony Bitetto scored at 2:21 of overtime to give the Checkers a 5-4 win over the Penguins Saturday night in overtime. Charlotte goes on to the Calder Cup Playoffs as the three seed in the Atlantic, the Penguins are going home for the summer.
Bit of a fitting end to a forgetful season. The Pens were up 3-1 to start the third, Charlotte scores two power play goals to tie it, then they yo-yo back and forth to force overtime. Just when you think they have the victory in hand to send the fans who attended (I didn’t, my niece’s 5th birthday party was my evening) home for the summer happy, Charlotte snatches victory from the jaws of defeat.
Here’s how they lined up…
Lineup Notes: Charlotte dressed a younger lineup…Dustin Tokarski in likely his swan song as a pro got the start in goal for the Pens. Jamie Devane was in for Lukas Svejkovsky.
First Period: Ty Glover scored when a Jamie Devane shot goes off of J-F Berube’s mask and back to Glover for a goal.
Nathan Légaré picked up a game misconduct for cross checking in the first period and was dismissed for the evening. What a fall from grace for the once highly touted Légaré. I’ll have more on him this week on the season wrap up on Sunday.
Second Period: Wilkes-Barre goes up 2-0 on a Valtteri Puustinen goal. For Puustinen, he was the Penguins Ironman this season, appearing in every game.
Anthony Bitetto scores his first of the night to bring Charlotte back to within one.
Sam Houde could have made it 3-1, but shoots the puck off Berube’s ass instead. Here that wild sequence is…
Ty Smith with his second goal of the night on the power play makes it 3-1 for the Penguins.
I liked how they played give and go with the puck, almost toying with the opponent there. Fun stuff.
Third Period: Four power play goals scored in the first 6:18, three by Charlotte, one by the Penguins.
Santtu Kinnunen, Connor Bunnaman, Jonathan Gruden and Grigori Denisenko in that order. Here they are.
So that was a dart.
Pens were put right back on the penalty kill because Dustin Tokarski said something to referees Patrick Hanrahan and/or Jordan Watt they didn’t like. Bunnaman makes them pay here…
Watt and Hanrahan were a mess all night, and I wasn’t even at the game. Par for the course for Hanrahan, always late to the play, can’t skate the right way. Mix in a salad, dude.
Here’s the Gruden power play goal which was an obvious makeup call from Watt / Hanrahan, who should both be skating in their last games of the season after tonight’s performance.
But the Checkers even the affair yet again with a baffling third power play goal of the period on the Denisenko shot that makes it 4-4.
Things calmed down from there because Jordan and Patrick must have realized that the fans paid to see the players, not the officials as, but for an Ethan Keppen interference call, there were no other penalties.
No scoring, neither, so it was off to…
Overtime: Pens possessed for the first two minutes or so, but then Charlotte got the puck and Bitetto skated in and, well…
See you in the Fall.
Three Stars: 3) Valtteri Puustinen (goal, two assists) 2) Ty Smith (goal, two assists) 1) Anthony Bitetto (two goals, over time game winner)
The Good: This sorry season is over?
The Bad: They went 2/5 on the kill, and Charlotte scored three power play goals setting up the….
Turning Point: Checkers three power play goals in the third guarantees them a home ice in the first round of the playoffs.
Around the Division: Here’s the scoreboard for the night. If anyone at Coal Street reads the blog, please go back to the 7:05 starts on Saturday. As always with whatever comes out of the Pens offices, it’s a half baked idea that’s forced on folks and forgotten about, sort of like the mottos they used to use (Feel the Excitement, Black and Blue, etc.) there’s no point in 6:05 starts if yo aren’t going to do a concert, a comedy act, etc.
Standings: Spoiler, the Pens finished last in the division.
Wheeling Update: Nailers aren’t making playoffs either and are playing in their finale out in Iowa. Box here.
Thanks again for reading and following along with me this season. On Sunday afternoon, I’ll have a player grades feature. On Monday I’ll revisit my predictions I gave way back in October and on Tuesday I will have a Calder Cup Playoffs Preview and prediction for a champion.
They should be back better than this year (hopefully, I’d hate to see what worse is) so keep the faith, and Let’s Go Pens!
Agree with the time change on the Saturday games. I’m old (56 ish, hehe) and have a hard time remembering this..Why? Just why?
Also, Fan Appreciation was again very disappointing. We as STH stuck with this team that ended dead last. I got free skating at Coal Street and a dismal display of picking JOTB participants. They literally picked a guy’s name then picked the rest of his stack of tickets, so they picked his name 2x! Seriously? Time to start squeezing these big name “sponsors” for game giveaways etc. Can’t expect support without some return..rant end..ugh