Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Postgamer

Disappointed, But Not Surprised — Pens LOSE 7-3

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Sucks that the season had to end this way, a season full of promise and a season which is Tom Kostopoulos’ final.

The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins bow out of the playoffs in a three game sweep to the Charlotte Checkers by final score of 7-3 and the season is over.

Charlotte is an extremely complete team. They may not be favorites in the next round against either Lehigh Valley or Providence and definitely won’t be a favorite in the Conference Finals if they happen to make it that far but do not underestimate this team going forward.

I actually had two versions of ledes written tonight, one if the Penguins were to extend the series to Game 4 and one if they bowed out and were swept. Either way, it doesn’t change the fact that I have to get up for work in the morning so let’s get right to it.

Here were the lines….

Garrett Wilson – Gage Quinney – Daniel Sprong
Christian Thomas – J-S Dea – Tom Kostopoulos
Joseph Cramarossa – Jarrett Burton – Josh Jooris
Adam Johnson – Teddy Blueger – Anthony Angello

Chris Summers – Ethan Prow
Andrey Pedan – Lukas Bengtsson
Niclas Almari – Zach Trotman

Tristan Jarry – Michael Leighton

For the Checkers:

Lineup Notes: Kevin Czuczman and Jarred Tinordi were out injured, Almari and Prow slotted in for them. Up front, Christian Thomas for Ryan Haggerty and some jumbling of the lines from Game 2.

First Period: Penguins jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a goal from Anthony Angello, his first as a professional, when Teddy Blueger put a shot on, hot nailed by a hit and Angello was there for the rebound.

Wilkes-Barre doubled the lead with a goal by Christian Thomas. Zach Trotman put the shot on and Thomas tipped it in. Checkers were under relentless pressure.

Here they are in GIF format:

Checkers quick strike offense was on full display. Lucas Wallmark put a shot on from the point after relentless Charlotte pressure. After the faceoff, ex-Penguin Greg McKegg stole a puck, weaved through bodies and scored unassisted :21 later to tie the score.

Here were the Checkers goals:

Wilkes-Barre has a strong start and a weak finish. Charlotte with a weak start and a strong finish. Pretty simple.

Second Period: Extremely even period to start. I remember looking up at the clock after stoppages to see the score tied and the shots even. This series has been so dead even.

Aleksi Saarela put a shot on through bodies near the goal line that went off of every piece of Jarrett Burton’s equipment and went in. A crushing own goal conceded in a tie game with a season on the line.

Third Period: Penguins opened with a carryover power play. They failed to score. Later, Clark Bishop jammed home a puck that extended the Checkers lead to two. A puck dug off the back wall put on Bishops tape and slammed in.

A few moments later, Andrew Miller sniped mid slot over Jarry’s glove using a defenseman as a screen and it was 5-2.

Anthony Angello scores his second of the game as a puck leaked through Nedeljkovic to bring Wilkes-Barre to within two.

The Penguins had life, until they didn’t, as Tom Kostopoulos took a late penalty that put the Penguins back on the penalty kill.

Checkers hit two empty nets to turn it into a rout in tomorrow’s papers.

Three Stars: 3) Anthony Angello (two goals, +1) 2) Valentin Zykov (two assists, +1) and 1) Andrew Miller (goal, assist, +2)

 

So that’s it. another season of disappointment for the Penguins who make it to the playoffs for the sixteenth consecutive season and come up short of the ultimate prize at the end. You can look back on the season and be wrong if you thought that the cupboard was raided by Pittsburgh. Zach Aston-Reese is a bonafide NHL player, Dominik Simon put in too much time at the AHL level for too many seasons to just get shipped away again and the Penguins botched the Antti Niemi backup goalie situation from the start which necessitated the call-up of either Casey DeSmith or Tristan Jarry. But none of those reasons can be pinned on Wilkes-Barre going out in the first round again. Don’t listen to anybody that tries to sell you on that pile of trash.

The Penguins were strong in goal all season, playing with a rotation of DeSmith and Jarry, trading for one of the greatest goaltenders of all time in the AHL in Michael Leighton and finding a diamond in the rough with Anthony Peters. The defense was as stout as its ever been and as deep. The Penguins coughed up a lead in Game 1 in the third period and lost in overtime and couldn’t score a power play goal when they needed it the most in Game 2. These reasons, in a five game series where the margins for error are razor thin, put the Penguins behind the eight ball and Charlotte, being the complete team that they are, weren’t going to be the next Providence or Bridgeport in the history books they keep at 40 Coal Street.

Thanks for playing along this year and reading. I think I have carved out a niche as a blog that people read and respect and for that I say thanks. I still believe that the Penguins will have their day.

Enjoy your summer.

Don’t Brink — Pens LOSE 4-1

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The keys to the game I gave you last night in Game 1 were as follows in bullet point. What follows in parenthesis was the result tonight in Game 2.

  • Stay out of the penalty box. (The Penguins took two penalties. They were both in the third period.)
  • Maintain your composure. (The Penguins took no after whistle penalties and there were no pull apart would be brawls.)
  • Limit mistakes. (In what was seemingly relentless pressure, the Penguins didn’t make many mistakes that cost them goals when the game mattered.)

So why did the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins lose the game 4-1 and now face must win Games 3, 4 and 5 back at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza next week?

In a close game, like this game in particular was, one play against you costs you. Josiah Didier’s shot through traffic with 5:42 left in the third period was the match on a dry pile of leaves that ignited two empty net goals for the Checkers with the Penguins were in desperation mode.

The Penguins had three opportunities to score on the power play tonight; one in the first after Charlotte had tied it at one, one in the second when the Checkers were coming in droves and one in the third when the Checkers had just scored to go up 2-1.

It usually takes a well rounded team to win a Calder Cup. The Penguins are a tough team that are hard to play against, but the power play is a joke and it cannot come through when it matters the most. In a close game against two evenly matched teams, it’s one bounce (last night in overtime and tonight through traffic) that has the Charlotte Checkers one game away from sweeping and eliminating the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins from the Calder Cup Playoffs.

They have done it before, down 0-3 to Providence a few years ago, the Penguins came back to win four straight to stun the Bruins. They need three against a Checkers team that is, in parts, a mirror image of the players skating with a muscular penguin on skates in front of an upside down yellow triangle.

But that team back in 2013 was a well rounded team that stunned a Providence team that fell apart at the sign of disparity and, once realized they were beat, withered away and that Penguins postseason team mounted a historic comeback. This version of Penguins postseason can’t score a power play or even enter the zone from the neutral zone, when they need it for their playoff lives.

Lines were…

Garrett Wilson – J-S Dea – Daniel Sprong
Adam Johnson – Gage Quinney – Ryan Haggerty
Joseph Cramarossa – Jarrett Burton – Josh Jooris
Anthony Angello – Teddy Blueger – Tom Kostopoulos

Chris Summers – Kevin Czuczman
Andrey Pedan – Lukas Bengtsson
Jarred Tinordi – Zach Trotman

Tristan Jarry – Alex Nedeljkovic

Lineup Notes: Jarrett Burton and Anthony Angello were in for Tom Sestito and Christian Thomas. Donatelli said pregame that Burton is good on the kill and Angello is a big guy whose size they want to use.

Here was Charlotte’s lineup, I was going to add this new feature and debut it last night, but wasn’t able to because I was called away…

No changes from Game 1 for Charlotte.

First Period: Penguins wasted little time in establishing a lead, taking just :22 seconds for Joseph Cramarossa to score his first of the playoffs with this goal…

Penguins had two chances burning Checkers defenseman Trevor Carrick tries by Anthony Angelo and Adam Johnson by Nedeljkovic, who struggled with the first shot he saw in Game 2, locked it down the rest of the period for his side.

Charlotte is a quick team, so all of the icing that they were doing of the puck early on wasn’t helping them. But they finally figured the clearances out and through a relentless forecheck, finally solved Jarry when defenseman Haydn Fleury banked a shot off of Jarry that went in…

Jarry was stopping what he was seeing, including this two on one chance that the Checkers had…

Wilkes-Barre had the only power play of the period and that was a total mess. They failed to crack through the zone to get anything of value set up.

Second Period: Charlotte was coming with each shift with aplomb but Jarry kept closing the door. The Penguins were then awarded a power play and didn’t do anything with it and in fact allowed Warren Foegele to get a shorthanded opportunity that Jarry denied.

Penguins had a good chance to re-take the lead when Teddy Blueger stripped Nedeljkovic when the Charlotte goaltender went out of his net to play the puck. Blueger passed to Tom Kostopoulos who fanned on the shot on what would have been on the open net.

Third Period: The Penguins lost Jarred Tinordi to and injury and Kevin Czucaman played most of the third with one arm. Penguins killed two Charlotte penalties with relative ease. Penguins hit a post shorthanded.

Then Josiah Didier scored on a seeing eye shot through a screened Jarry that gave the Checkers the lead…

Daniel Sprong was stopped point blank by Nedeljkovic right after. Then the Penguins were gifted a power play with the game on the line.

They failed to score. Immediately, Tristan Jarry came off for the extra attacker and as soon as that happened, the Checkers scored on the empty net to make it 3-1. They then made it 4-1 after another Wilkes-BArre attempt at the extra man.

Ballgame.

Three Stars: 3) Joseph Cramarossa (goal, -1) 2) Josiah Didier (game winning goal, +3) and 2) Haydn Fleury (two goals, +4)

Clark Bishop scored the other empty net goal if you are scoring from home.

So where do we go from here?

Gameplan needs to remain the same. Stay out of the box, limit mistakes, maintain composure. Add, score a power play goal to that, although I mentioned that in my series preview so just add more emphasis to that last one.

Keep the faith.

Let’s Go Pens!

Get Your Wings, Track One — Pens LOSE 3-2 (OT)

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I was called out of the area this afternoon and was not able to watch or listen to about 95% of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the Charlotte Checkers and the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins so I relied on Twitter to keep me updated. I guess you can say the tables turned.

From what I gathered from Twitter, the Penguins were in control through 40 minutes of play and had a 2-0 lead on the Charlotte Checkers going into the third period. Tristan Jarry was dialed in.

If you don’t get the headline, you must not be an Aerosmith fan. It was the same old story and same old song and dance for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins.

The keys to the game tonight were simple. Stay out of the penalty box, maintain your composure and limit mistakes against this high octane, offensively gifted Charlotte Checkers team. For two periods it worked, for the third and final period, it didn’t.

I played basketball in college. One of the million things that resonated with me from my time away from home in Northeastern Pennsylvania still to this day was my coach telling us in certain situations that we are not playing to win, we are playing not to lose.

In the third period of Game 1 tonight, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins had a 2-0 lead and played not to lose.

Stay out of the penalty box, maintain your composure and limit mistakes were the goals. The Penguins didn’t accomplish any of them, giving up two goals in the third, one on a power play after a bonehead turnover and the Penguins trail 0-1 in this best of five with Game 2 set to go off Saturday at 6 in Charlotte.

Game 2 basically becomes must win for Wilkes-Barre. It’s a tough spot. No lead will be safe based off of the third period collapse tonight. The Penguins know that and more dangerously Charlotte knows that. If the Penguins want to win tomorrow, it may take a 5-0 lead after the first period and just going into a shell for the final 40 minutes.

Tristan Jarry came to play tonight, stopping 35 shots. The Penguins tweeted out about four GIFs of his saves. It’s the team in front of him that played not to lose and now face a seemingly must win situation in Game 2 Saturday.

Since I didn’t watch the game, that’s pretty much it. Andrey Pedan scored late in the first on a power play and Daniel Sprong scored on a boffo shot from center ice in the second. Aleksi Saarela scored on a snipe to start the comeback in the third, and leading regular season goal scorer Valentin Zykov scored on a power play about five minutes later to tie it. The Penguins never possessed the puck in overtime and Lucas Wallmark tipped in a shot through a mess of bodies which may or may not have been interference on Jarry and the Checkers take game one 3-2 in overtime.

I have no idea if the Checkers are going to put out a highlight package. So here are the Penguins goals starting with Andrey Pedan…

And Sprong….

And all three Checkers goals in one tweet.

Game 2 goes tomorrow at 6 from Charlotte, meaning that the Gameday setup here on the blog will be out Saturday at 2.

Let’s Go Pens!

The Future is Bright — Pens WIN 3-2

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Usually you would see that headline in the final game of a season where the team featured played its last game of the campaign.

That’s not true here, as the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins are headed to the Calder Cup for the 16th straight season.

But, with nothing to play for and their seeding locked in at two, the Penguins dressed a young, inexperienced lineup in Hershey today.

They all looked like cagey veterans. Penguins win 3-2 in Hershey Sunday afternoon and will face the Charlotte Checkers in Round One of the Calder Cup Playoffs that open Friday in Charlotte.

But let’s get back to the Penguins and their regular season for a second. 45 wins, 99 points, second in the Atlantic. 10-0-1-1 against Hershey, the most dominant one opponent was against the other in this storied rivalry.

The Penguins enter the 2018 Calder Cup playoffs as a team looking for a Calder Cup for their captain. No other heavy expectations as a number one overall seed like they were last year when they went out in five games over the Providence Bruins. Much of that same core returns and is upgraded greatly, defense is one area.

But we can get to all that in the coming week. For tonight, Anthony Peters opposed Vitek Vanecek.

Lines were…

Adam Johnson – Gage Quinney – Daneil Sprong
Christian Thomas – Jarrett Burton – Jan Drozg
Ryan Haggerty – Sam Lafferty – Anthony Angello
Troy Josephs – Cam Brown – Patrick McGrath

Niclas Almari – Ethan Prow
Andrey Pedan – Jeff Taylor
Kevin Schulze – Dane Birks

Anthony Peters – Tristan Jarry

Lineup Notes: With this basically being a free game to play withnothibg on the line, Clark Donatelli rested the likes of J-S Dea, Tom Kostopoulos, Teddy Blueger, Zach Trotman, Tom Sestito and the like. Dane Birks and Jan Drozg made their pro debuts and Cam Brown made his WBS debut.

First Period: If first impressions are lasting ones, then the number one impression I got when watching the first period on AHL Live is that these newcomers that Donatelli put in the lineup today are good. Hershey, dressing a lineup full of regular players, got all they could handle from the ATO players.

Daniel Sprong put the Penguins ahead 1-0 halfway through on a power play on this wrist shot that beat Vitek Vanecek.

Hershey had a power play come and go, then Jarrett Burton scored in the final minute of the period when he unleashed a writer that beat Vanecek and double the Penguins lead.

Jan Drozg was credited with the secondary assist on the play, his first AHL point.

Second Period: Was a quick pace to the period, with the Bears failing to score on a power play, Daniel Sprong and Adam Johnson failing to connect on a 2-on-1 and Dustin Gazley scoring in the final minute of the second to cut the Penguins lead to one. Anthony Peters stopped a few shots, never corralled the rebound and the puck squirted to Gazley in the slot for the goal.

Third Period: Daniel Sprong put a shot on and Gage Quinney put in a rebound to extend the lead to two again for Wilkes-Barre…

Bears would score on a 6-on-4 power play with Vitek Vanecek pulled when Jeremy Langlois tipped in a shot from the point to bring the Bears to within one, but Hershey would not get any closer.

Three Stars: 3) Garrett Mitchell (milestone 400th AHL game) 2) Dustin Gazley (goal, +1) and 1) Daniel Sprong (+1)

Around the Division: Providence beat Springfield 4-2 to briefly jump to third, but Charlotte beat Bridgeport 4-1 to take third and the first round matchup with Wilkes-Barre. Everyone else ended their season but for Lehigh Valley who open round one against Providence.

Video Highlights: 

Here is the first round schedule that went live moments after the Charlotte game went final:

Here’s Clark’s thoughts on the Checkers series after the game…

But, but, you told me it was going top be Providence all along! What’s up with that?!

The great Mark Divver caught up with a Springfield player who shared his thoughts on Wilkes-Barre…

I would have asked a follow up about the Checkers, but I guess you had to be there.

Anyway, as for this week, Week 28 AHL Power Rankings hit the blog Monday at 4. The Western Conference Playoff Preview will be out Tuesday and the Eastern Conference Playoff Preview will run Wednesday. Pens / Checkers breakdown will be Thursday with the full Gameday setup Friday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

Inconsequential — Pens LOSE 2-1 (SO)

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A defensive battle and a goaltenders duel between Michael Leighton and Alex Lyon tonight in Allentown as the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins battled the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to a scoreless draw late in the third period.

Garrett Wilson finally broke the deadlock with a goal when he muscled a puck past and through Lyon to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.

What happened after that, really was inconsequential.

The Phantoms, who battered Leighton with shot after shot in the third period, finally broke through with under a minute to play with Lyon vacated for the extra attacker with a goal from Chris Conner. It was a goal that Leighton would want back.

But it was inconsequential.

No scoring in overtime, Nicolas Aube-Kubel scored in the top of the fourth for the Phantoms and gave the Atlantic Division Champions an extra point to their already impressive season. Pens lose 2-1 in a shootout.

Yep, there is that five syllable word again: Inconsequential.

But why? Why is it inconsequential?

All the Penguins needed was one point to secure home ice in the first round. They got it with the play of Michale Leighton and the goal by Wilson. It seems funny to me that in instances where the Penguins need a big performance, like clinching a playoff spot last weekend and sewing up home ice in round one, it’s Michael Leighton that always ends up in the starting rotation.

The Penguins released their home schedule, what is still not known is the opponent. Providence shutout Springfield 5-0 in Springfield Saturday to keep their hopes at a three seed alive. It will come down to the final games Sunday afternoon. Providence hosts the Thunderbirds in a rematch and Charlotte closes out the regular season with a game in Bridgeport. The Penguins will probably dress a young lineup, much like the Phantoms did tonight Sunday afternoon in Hershey.

I’ll give the home schedule to you at the end of the blog story. I usually, when the Penguins are on the road, write the first and second period recaps in between intermissions. I would just use what I wrote above and just call it a night but since it’s already written, may as well use it.

So the lines were….

Garrett Wilson – J-S Dea – Daniel Sprong
Adam Johnson – Gage Quinney – Anthony Angello
Tom Sestito – Jarrett Burton – Christian Thomas
Joseph Cramarossa – Teddy Blueger – Tom Kostopoulos

Chris Summers – Lukas Bengtsson
Niclas Almari – Kevin Czuczman
Jarred Tinordi – Zach Trotman

Michael Leighton – Tristan Jarry

Lineup Notes: Two Penguins draft picks made their WBS season debuts. Anthony Angello was in for Ryan Haggerty and Niclas Almari was in for Andrey Pedan.

First Period: If you are going to read about the game in the papers Sunday, the best summary of what happened in the first period in Allentown may read, “After a scoreless first period…” That’s because nothing really of substance happened beyond teams trading a few power plays.

Second Period: Reverse of fortunes for the teams. The Penguins started off slow in the first period and turned it on, then the Phantoms started slow in the second and turned it on as the period went on. The Penguins had to kill a 4:00 double minor and did so successfully. Niclas Almari busted up a would be breakaway for the Phantoms after his defense partner Kevin Czuczman was stopped point blank by Alex Lyon.

Third Period: Leighton was dialed in, stopping Radev Fazleev and Aube-Kubel on two separate attempts.

Garrett Wilson finally broke the scoreless deadlock.

With Lyon out, Chris Conner scored to tie the game. Leighton caught slightly off balance and Conner won the race to the puck near side and poked it home.

Overtime: Decided nothing. Pens had a power play that they did not score on. They were 0-for-4 tonight.

Shootout: Lyon and Leighton stopped the first three shooters they faced. Aube-Kubel scored on Leighton in the top of the fourth and Lyon stopped J-S Dea in the bottom of the fourth to secure the extra point for the Phantoms.

Three Stars: 3) Nicolas Aube-Kubel (shootout game winning goal, -1) 2) Michael Leighton (30 saves on 31 shots) and 1) Alex Lyon (26 saves on 27 shots)

Around the Division: Hartford beat Binghamton 4-2, Hershey beat Bridgeport 2-1 in the insignificant games in the Division, Providence shutout Springfield 5-0 to pull within a point of idle Charlotte to pull within a point to third place in the Atlantic in the only other game in the Division which mattered.

Standings: Lehigh Valley and Wilkes-Barre have home ice locked up round one. Charlotte has 94 points and are a point ahead of Providence. Bridgeport, Hartford, Springfield and Hershey round out the division.

If Lehigh Valley runs a highlight package I will put it here.

Here is your Round One home schedule for Wilkes-Barre / Scranton. What is NOT known is opponent yet. Penguins will employ the 2-3 format because of distance to Providence or Charlotte.

“One More Kick at the Cup” appears to be the playoff motto. With this being Tom Kostopoulos’ final run, appropriate marketing.

Here are you scenarios for opponent.

If Charlotte wins or are tied with Providence in points, Charlotte is the three seed.

If Providence wins AND Charlotte loses in regulation, Providence is the three seed.

I’ll have more answers on this for sure tomorrow. Gameday setup for the final regular season home game in Hershey hits the blog Sunday at 1.

Let’s Go Pens!

Sweeping Thunder — Pens WIN 3-2

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I have been blogging about this team for what will be eight years in July. I have been a season ticket holder for the Penguins for a few more years than that, call it ten years.

This has been probably the most uninspired late season win by my beloved Penguins that I can remember. Why?

Because I know what’s coming.

The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins have qualified for the Calder Cup Playoffs for sixteen straight seasons. There are people at the Arena that have brought their kids to the games that all those children have known is the Penguins playing in the playoffs.

No championships to show for those trips. In fact, I have never blogged a Calder Cup Finals game on this blog for this team yet. 2008 was the last time the Penguins were in the Finals. Remember that? We are all old.

I don’t like their chances this season to even get out of the first round.

Not to be Debbie Downer on a night where the Penguins manage to sweep the Springfield Thunderbirds with a 3-2 win and, coupled with outside results solidify their chances at home ice in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs over either Charlotte or Providence.

But I know what is coming.

The Penguins stormed out to a 2-0 lead on a Springfield team that its playing their final games this weekend before the summertime and had a large shot advantage. Wilkes-Barre ended up putting 49 shots in total at Harri Sateri and the Thunderbirds defense. It looked like another hard fought, but easy win for the Penguins.

Then the magic disappeared.

The Penguins let the Thunderbirds back in the game, Springfield tied it, Wilkes-Barre had two opportunities to nudge back ahead on a power play and failed, but it was Zach Trotman scoring that gave the Penguins the lead for good in the third, a lead that the Penguins didn’t relinquish.

When the playoffs start next week, the Penguins are either facing the Charlotte Checkers or the Providence Bruins. If you are a Penguins fan, you want Providence because the Penguins and Bruins are so evenly matched. Both teams have their NHL counterpart playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Checkers will have a full compliment of players at their disposal and are as hot as you can be coming into the playoffs.

Moral of the story is, Penguins gritted this one out over a Springfield team that is better at coming up short and losing and were overall the better team, barely. They aren’t going to enjoy that same luxury in a week or so.

Charlotte has one game left, Sunday in Bridgeport. Providence has two, but we will get to that in a minute.

Tristan Jarry opposed Harri Sateri.

Lines were…

Garrett Wilson – J-S Dea – Daniel Sprong
Adam Johnson – Gage Quinney – Ryan Haggerty
Tom Sestito – Jarrett Burton – Christian Thomas
Joseph Cramarossa – Teddy Blueger – Tom Kostopoulos

Andrey Pedan – Lukas Bengtsson
Chris Summers – Kevin Czuczman
Jarred Tinordi – Zach Trotman

Tristan Jarry – Michael Leighton

Lineup Notes: Tom Sestito was in for Patrick McGrath. That was the only lineup change from Sunday in Bridgeport…Alex D’Orio was sent back to his junior team. That is not uncommon. Give the kids a taste of the pro life then send them on their way.

First Period: Started out as an evenly matched game between two teams on the opposite end of the success meter here in the AHL’s final weekend of regular season play. Shots were 7-7 somewhere around halfway when the Pens exploded and finished on a 12-0 shot run and got this jaw dropping goal from Daniel Sprong who scored on Harri Sateri, who is the AHL’s reigning Player of the Week and who was stymieing everything sent his way from the Penguins….

Another angle…

Garrett Wilson put it on a tee for Sprong who, in tight quarters, put it top corner and scored his 31st goal of the season, which broke the franchise record for goals scored by a rookie (Michel Ouellet)

Second Period: Penguins extend their lead to two with this nice goal from Teddy Blueger. As I was watching the game on AHL Live yelling for Blueger to pass off, he unleashed this shot that go past Sateri that made it 2-0…

Penguins continued to increase their shot total over the Thunderbirds and it was looking like they were setting up for cruise control, but then the Penguins found themselves in penalty trouble.

Dryden Hunt scored on a pretty tic tac toe play barreling down the slot that cut the Penguins lead to one.

Off the face-off, thrill a minute hockey for both teams. Sateri comes way out to stop Tom Sestito but doesn’t cover the puck. Penguins continue the shooting gallery on the Thunderbirds goal keeper but he turns them all away. Then, Springfield clears the puck away and then Andrey Pedan trips Thunderbirds defenseman Ed Wittchow.

Turning point.

Matters made worse, Tom Kostopoulos was sent to the box. Long 5-on-3 for the Thunderbirds.

But they tossed the puck around the top of the zone and never really manufactured a shot at Jarry. But it was a complete implosion of structures by the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins who were lucky to get out of all the penalty madness with a 2-1 lead heading into the…

Third Period: Curtis Valk got a piece of a shot from the point from Brad Hunt and tied the game.

Turnover. Total breakdown. Pens up big on shots, two goal lead, then get stupid with penalties and cute with exits and the Thunderbirds tie the game.

Better yet, Wilkes-Barre had two chances after the Walk goal to score on a power play and failed. There is going to come a time in the next couple of weeks when the Penguins will need a power play goal either in a situation like this or down one or two. Mark my words. Whether or not they get one remains to be seen, but the trends are not positive.

Zach Trotman put a shot on that found its way Sateri, who was really dialed in tonight and the Penguins squeaked out in front again.

May have deflected in front. Doesn’t matter.

With Sateri vacated, the Thunderbirds never found the equalizer.

Three Stars: 3) Harri Sateri (46 saves on 49 shots) 2) Teddy Blueger (goal, +1) 1) Zach Trotman (goal, +1)

Around the Division: Games that don’t matter are Lehigh Valley beating Bridgeport 5-2 and Hartford edging Binghamton in a shootout 2-1. The game that did matter was Charlotte beating Providence 5-3 in Providence to improve to 8-0-1-0 in their last nine games and are third place in the Atlantic.

Standings: Lehigh Valley won the division last weekend and have 102 points with one more game to play tomorrow against the Penguins. The Penguins are second with 96 points and two games left, Saturday in Lehigh Valley and Sunday in Hershey. Charlotte is off until Sunday when they face off against Bridgeport. They have 94 points. Charlotte has the first tie breaker on the Pens. I believe that the magic number to sew up home ice would be just one point. Providence has two games left with 91 points. They visit Springfield Saturday and then host the Thunderbirds Sunday afternoon. The rest of the division is Bridgeport, Hartford, Springfield and Hershey in that order.

If Springfield puts up a video highlight package, I will edit it in here.

Pens bus down to Allentown for a 7:15 start against the lame duck Phantoms. It will be interesting to see what Lehigh Valley puts out for a lineup in their last regular season home game with nothing left to play for. Check out the gameday setup Saturday at 3 here on the blog.

Let’s Go Pens!

Taming a Tiger — Pens WIN 5-2

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Anthony Peters hasn’t played in a meaningful hockey game in about three weeks, so you couldn’t fault him if he was rusty coming into the tail end of a three in three weekend on the road against a team that beat the Penguins on Friday night at home.

But Peters closed the door on the already eliminated Bridgeport Sound Tigers, and the Penguins, bolstered by a 4-0 start at the end of the first, win 5-2 to hold onto second place in the Atlantic Division with three games to play in the regular season. Peters stopped 41 of 43 shots.

Peters opposed Eamon McAdam.

Lines were…

Garrett Wilson – J-S Dea – Daniel Sprong
Adam Johnson – Gage Quinney – Ryan Haggerty
Patrick McGrath – Jarrett Burton – Christian Thomas
Joseph Cramarossa – Teddy Blueger – Tom Kostopoulos

Andrey Pedan – Lukas Bengtsson
Chris Summers – Kevin Czuczman
Jarred Tinordi – Zach Trotman

Anthony Peters – Tristan Jarry

Lineup Notes: Anthony Peters first start in goal for the Pens since March 18, McGrath’s first action since February 17. Tom Sestito was out for McGrath. Tristan Jarry backed up Peters.

First Period: Much like Saturday night against Binghamton, the Penguins jumped out to a 4-0 lead.

Adam Johnson on a power play scored his first of the period.

Stepped into the high slot and let it rip into the top corner.

Johnson, 1:17 later, chases down a puck, gets it to the point for a shot then collects the rebound and scores to double the Penguins lead.

Tom Kostopoulos caused a turnover and fed Christian Thomas for a goal that made it 3-0.

Bridgeport called a time out. It didn’t seem to help.

Zach Trotman put a shot on net and Pat McGrath tipped dit home to make it 4-0.

An all out blitzkrieg to finish out the weekend three in three. But, there were two more full periods to play.

Second Period: Kristers Gudlevskis led the Sound Tigers out for the second period and took over for Eamon McAdam, and it was the kick in the pants that the Sound Tigers needed to get something going.

Slight problem though, they didn’t execute.

Bridgeport had a long spell of 5-on-3 power play to work with, yet only registered about two shots on net and spent the other time passing and chasing the cleared pucks sent in their end.

John Stevens scored to break up the Anthony Peters would be shutout bid after a turnover at just past half way, and Bridgeport led the Penguins in shots 17-5 in the period, so the Penguins had a three goal lead to defend heading into the…

Third Period: Anthony Peters remained strong in net for the Penguins, making saves swimming in the crease. Gage Quinney scored a goal when. shot from the point rebounded right to Quinney for the put in which made it 5-1.

Penguins fell asleep defensively and Steve Bernier hacked and whacked at a puck and scored to bring the Sound Tigers to within three.

But three would be as far as Bridgeport got. A quick moving period the rest of the way and the penguins would hold on to win.

Three Stars: 3) Gage Quinney (goal, assist, +2) 2) Anthony Peters (41 saves on 43 shots) 1) Adam Johnson (two goals, +1)

Around the Division: Charlotte continues to tear it up, they beat Hershey 3-1 today…Lehigh Valley wins the Atlantic Division Championship with a 6-3 win over a slumping Providence Bruins team…Springfield shutout Hartford 2-0.

Standings: Lehigh Valley (100 points, division winners) — Penguins (94 points, 3 games remaining) — Providence (91 points (3 games left) — Charlotte (92 points, two games left) — Bridgeport, Hartford, Springfield, Hershey.

Wheeling Update: The Nailers season ended yesterday, I expect a caravan of players headed to Coal Street this week.

Video Highlights:

Check back here Monday for the AHL Power Rankings at 4.

Let’s Go Pens!