To be honest, this post should have been up an hour ago.
The Penguins, up 3-1 late in the third period, see their two goal lead evaporate in :42. Hershey pulls Pheonix Copley and the Penguins don’t possess the puck for the entire time. Bears get not one, but two extra attacker goals and tie the game at three. This is stuff that doesn’t happen in preseason games, and yet it’s happening in the final 90 seconds of an elimination game.
Rightfully so, visions of the collapse against Charlotte years ago started creeping into my mind. I still am in shock from what I witnessed and still can’t believe that the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins manage to somehow win the Game 3 of the First Round series against the Hershey Bears 4-3 in overtime thanks to Alex Nylander.
Game One against Springfield is Wednesday. The League and the Thunderbirds must have heard the call from the Penguins as it was announced Monday that Game One started Wednesday, either at home against the Penguins or on the road against the Bears. Let’s get the schedule out of the way first.
I’ll have a series snapshot for you on Wednesday morning for you on this.
Back to Game 3 of Round One, here’s how they lined up:
Lineup Notes: Anthony Angello is day to day with an injury. Sam Houde stayed in after Jonathan Gruden returned from his Game 2 suspension.
First Period: Mike Sgarbossa scores near post at 5:22 after Hershey navigated through a penalty kill to put the Bears on the board.
But the Penguins get one to go after Matt Bartkowski flubs a puck or breaks his stick. The change up shot hits Beck Malenstyn’s skate and deflects into the net to tie the game at one.
Second Period: Nothing doing goal wise or penalty wise. I liked the way referees Cody Beach and Beau Halkidis ran the game. They stayed the hell out of the way and let the players decide.
Third Period: Pheonix Copley was dialed in until he wasn’t. A shot by Radim Zohorna handcuffs him and goes in to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead.
The Penguins could smell blood. Hell, I could smell it. Every shift just coming at Hershey with everything they had.
Sam Poulin, who was shooting high glove and Copley catching it like a baseball all night, finally goes low and beats Copley for a five hole goal to give the Penguins a two goal lead.
Then, well, a bit of a meltdown. I saw it coming a mile away.
With Copley pulled, the Penguins don’t possess the puck at all. Garrett Pilon far post one timer and in.
(I couldnt’ find a GIF, it’s in the highlights below)
Sure fine, Hershey gets a consolation goal. The Penguins are still going to win the game or score an empty net goal to seal it away right?
Stunned doesn’t begin to describe the pit of emotions I had. I’m already a ball of emotions three hours to puck drop, have to sit through a whole game, see my favorite team go up two goals on their biggest rival, and see, with my own two eyes, a lead evaporate in an ELIMINATION game to head to overtime.
Overtime: In hindsight was the best thing that could have happened to the Penguins. A time to regroup, refocus, and thank the great minds who decided to trade for Alex Nylander in the Sam Lafferty trade.
Still in shock. Didn’t really celebrate as much.
Full credit to the Bears and I meant every word I said. They beat the piss out of each other and bring the best out of one another. Think of how many more cups the Bears would have it it weren’t for those Pesky Penguins. Hershey doesn’t rebuild, they reload, so expect another haul this summer.
Three Stars: 3) Sam Poulin (goal) 2) Radim Zohorna (goal, assist) 1) Alex Nylander (overtime and series clinching goal)
The Good: One round down, four more to go. If were easy we’d all have Calder Cups.
The Bad: Good lord this point should have been done an hour ago. How do you give up two goals with a goalie pulled that fast again?
Turning Point: Nylander goal, duh.
Fast track to the Springfield series. I still like their chances. Pens are virtually unbeatable at home. They must steal one in Springfield Wednesday or Thursday in order to possibly end it in Wilkes-Barre next week. Can they? Yeah, Springfield is a great matchup for the Penguins. Will they? Well, you’ll just have to tune into the series snap Wednesday morning too find out.
Oh crap, I have work in the morning. Time to wrap up.
Let’s Go Pens!