Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Postgamer

It Was 4-1. Now It’s Just Fore! — Pens LOSE 7-6 (SPR wins series 3-0)

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I’m not going to GIF all 13 of these goals tonight.

It was 4-1 in favor of the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins in the first period. Springfield thunders back to tie the game in the second period then pulls ahead in the third. They win Game 3 7-6 and sweep the Penguins out of the Atlantic Division Semifinals.

The Penguins got in a fire fight with a team full of gasoline and it almost worked, but they faced a barrage in the second they were not able to overcome.

I don’t have anything bad to say about the team. They were in last in December. They battled back to a respectable fourth. They beat Hershey in the First Round of the playoffs and lost to a Springfield team which was better than them in nearly every aspect and were swept out.

Sure, the turning point of the season is probably when Casey DeSmith goes down in Game 1 and makes Louis Domingue the de facto number one starter. The idea is that Jarry makes it back, Domingue goes back down and steals the series against Springfield.

I still didn’t like the Penguins chances against who I think wins the Bridgeport – Charlotte series and that’s the Checkers.

So if you don’t make it out of the Division and win the Calder Cup, does it really matter?

Anyway, let’s get into it.

Here’s how they lined up. Cam Lee came out for Colin Swoyer.

First Period: Guns blazing for the Penguins, just 2:45 in and Jonathan Gruden scores to make it 1-0 Penguins. They get a power play and don’t score or even get a shot on starting goaltender Charlie Lindgren for Springfield.

Springfield then gets a power play and Sam Anas scores to tie the game at one.

Penguins push ahead with a goal by Filip Hallander and again with a power play goal by Sam Poulin. Nathan Legare makes up for the penalty that led to the Anas power play goal with a goal of his own that makes it 4-1 Penguins.

Second Period: Complete role reversal. Penguins get in penalty trouble. The officiating was awful Sunday. Justin Kea is probably going to be a full time NHL referee one day, but if he throws clunkers like today, it won’t be for long. Rob Hennessy is an overmatched hack who just fills a referee suit. He’s awful and needs to be carried by the other guy.

Anyway, Will Bitten scores (kicks) a goal to make it 4-2 on a 5-on-3 for the Thunderbirds. A long review by Kea / Hennessy and the goals stands. Then Steven Santini scores through a screen and it’s 4-3. Then Dakota Joshua ties the game at four.

It was a blitzkrieg of goals for the Thunderbirds under an avalanche of shots. Wilkes-Barre was outshot by a 4:1 margin at one point.

Third Period: I wondered if the comeback for Springfield would have taken all the starch out of them and the Penguins, as long as they played it close, would be fine and make it to a Game 4.

I was wrong.

Matthew Peca scores a rebound goal to make it 5-4 Springfield. Then 6-4 when Tommy Nappier stabs the puck with his blocker and up into the ai where Mackenzie MacEachern is waiting to whack it in for a 6-4 lead.

Sam Poulin brings the Pens back to within one with his second of the game.

But then Jonathan Gruden throws a puck out of play and the Pens are down a man and their best penalty killer and Hugh McGing scores a power play to reestablish the Springfield two goal lead in the third period.

Alex Nylander scores the final goal of the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins season. WIth  Tommy Nappier pulled, the Penguins never found the equalizer.

Three Stars: 3) Matthew Peca (goal, two assists) 2) Sam Anas (goal, three assists) 1) Hugh McGing (goal)

The Good: Several of you won’t agree, but it was a successful season for the Penguins. Fourth place finish with this group? Get me a finisher and a little more steadier defense and goaltending and we will see where this goes.

The Bad: Another season, another playoff exit.

Turning Point: Alex Nylander turned the season around for the Pens. Losing Zohorna and Domingue and O’Connor hurt the Penguins chances against beating Springfield, but rest assured, I don’t think they make it past Charlotte or beyond.

Video Highlights: All 13 of the goals described above should be here:

Thanks for following along this season. I’ll be around. Have a great summer!

Let’s Go Pens!

Brinks — Pens LOSE 6-2 (SPR leads 2-0)

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I don’t want to blame a loss on officiating. But the tides turned for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins when referee Conor O’Donnell made this call on Anthony Angello.

The Thunderbirds would score on the ensuing power play to tie the game at two at the time.

Seems like a harmless thing, but it wasn’t. The referees were letting everything go to that point. Everything. So yes, the Penguins were a bit shell shocked at the call and the goal.

:42 later, the Thunderbirds would score again and never looked back.

Oh, and starting goaltender for Springfield Joel Hofer scored a goal.

The Penguins are down 2-0 in the series now after losing 6-2 Thursday. The Hofer empty net goal and another makes the score line bigger than it really should be.

Series shifts back to Wilkes-Barre where the Penguins are 16-3 in 2022. But I said in my series snap on Wednesday that in order to beat the Thunderbirds in the series you would have to beat them in Springfield. The Penguins have yet to do that.

Anyway, here’s your story…

Here’s how they lined up:

Lineup Notes: Radim Zohorna was recalled to Pittsburgh earlier in the day. Sam Houde went in for him, Jamie Devane came out and Nathan Legare went in for him. The Thunderbirds somewhat surprisingly went with Joel Hofer over Charlie Lindgren, but they want a long playoff run and don’t want to steam out their ace goaltender. Joel Hofer as we all know isn’t a pushover.

First Period: Even period at even strength, Thunderbirds score on their second power play of the period when Matthew Peca scored a backdoor goal which gave the Thunderbirds a 1-0 lead.

They were trying that all period and the dummy backdoor to Neal worked. Peca was unmarked and didn’t miss.

Shots were an even 10 a side heading into the…

Second Period: Tale of two periods. The Penguins dominated the Thunderbirds with a barrage of shots on Joel Hofer and collected two goals to put them up ahead 2-1.

Traffic in front of Hofer. Take his eyes away. The Penguins were outshooting the Thunderbirds 12-1 in the period.

The officials (Casey Terreri and Conor O’Donnell) let everything go. Jonathan Gruden was high sticked, no call. There was a Thunderbird tripped right in front of one of those referees and no call. Guys were poked, tugged and slammed into the boards and they let it all go.

They call this a penalty? (Positing it again because I still can’t believe it)

Tommy Cross wastes no time in tying the game at two with a blast from the point.

(no GIF here)

And then as they were announcing that goal, Steven Santini hits Mackenzie MacEachern with a bullet point home run pass that is caught right at the blue line. MacEachern skates in and beats Tommy Nappier with a perfect wrist shot to give the Thunderbirds a 3-2 lead.

Springfield would outshoot Wilkes-Barre / Scranton 2-0 in this period. The Penguins were on tilt and rightfully so. They get called for a preseason cross checking penalty and see their lead evaporate and are chasing the lead again.

Third Period: Penguins get two quick power plays. That killed all of their momentum. They were great and have been great at five on five but have been a mess on special teams. They also gave up two short handed bids on a power play.

Nikita Alexandrov picks up a rebound and scores to make it a two goal lead and you got the sense it was all she wrote.

It was for the Penguins, but the excitement had yet to meet its crescendo for the Thunderbirds. With Tommy Nappier pulled for an extra attacker, Joel Hofer does this.

Luke Witkowski scores an empty net goal killing a penalty as a matter of happenstance. He banks a puck off the wall and it goes into the empty net to make it 6-2.

Three Stars: 3) Mackenzie MacEachern (goal) 2) Matthew Peca (goal, assist) 1) Joel Hofer (34 saves, goal)

The Good: The Penguins are the better team five on five in my opinion.

The Bad: The Penguins are 0/7 on the power play in the series and Springfield is 3/6.

Turning Point: That terrible call on Anthony Angello.

Video Highlights: 

Talk to you after Game 3 Sunday.

Let’s Go Pens!

Fifty Ain’t Nifty — Pens LOSE 4-1 (SPR leads 1-0)

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The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins didn’t see Springfield Thunderbirds netminder Charlie Lindgren all season. Lindgren was one of the top goaltenders for the Thunderbirds in the AHL and yet the Penguins, who played the Thunderbirds six times this season, didn’t see him.

Lindgren made fifty saves in Game 1 of the Atlantic Division Semifinals Wednesday night. Springfield wins 4-1 and lead the best of five series 1-0. Game 2 is Thursday at 7.

Besides the fact that the Penguins didn’t score on one of three straight power plays in the second period and all of the rubber stopped by Lindgren throughout the course of sixty minutes, all things considered, it was pretty even. I know that sounds weird, but one of those goals scored by the Thunderbirds was an empty netter, the other was a two on one in the third period.

It will be interesting to see how Wilkes-Barre adjusts and responds Thursday. We don’t have to wait long.

Here’s how they lined up:

Lineup Notes: Springfield got help from St. Louis in the form of a Mackenzie MacEachern on a conditioning loan, and Dakota Joshua and Steven Santini on straight assignments. For Wilkes-Barre, Anthony Angello returned from injury and replaced Sam Houde. Injury wise, Michal Chaput is not on the trip, Taylor Fedun is and took morning skate.

First Period: Will Bitten scores a power play goal to put the Thunderbirds up 1-0 past halfway in the period. There was a review on account of a possible kick, but the goal stood.

Sam Poulin gets a good chance off of a one timer which Lindgren gets most of it. The other part he doesn’t rolls past him but hits the post and stays out.

At the end of the period, Will Bitten and Tommy Nappier came together and well, I’ll let the pictures tell the story.

Bitten and Nappier would pick up offsetting minors.

Second Period: At the expiration of a Penguins power play, Felix Robert would score to tie the game.

That’s the first goal the Thunderbirds have given up in three and a half plus games. The Thunderbirds shutout their last three opponents in the regular season.

After another power play for the Penguins, Klim Kostin with a bullet which beats Nappier low to re-establish the Thunderbirds lead.

I’m writing the game story on the fly so I’m here typing this in the second intermission, I’m getting at the fact that Penguins had another power play after the Kostin goal but didn’t score. That’s three consecutive power plays for Wilkes-Barre / Scranton. Let’s hope this doesn’t end up in “The Bad” at the end of this game story.

Third Period: After the Penguins killed a too many men penalty, Matthew Peca and Sam Anas came charging in on a two on one. Anas didn’t miss, sniping one over the glove of Tommy Nappier to make it a 3-1 Thunderbirds lead.

(No GIF here, use your imagination. Juuso Riikola was the lone Penguin defender back)

The Penguins continued to throw rubber at the Thunderbirds net. They managed 17 shots in each period. The Thunderbirds only had 4 shots in the third period. Two went in, one on an empty net when Dakota Joshua, who woke up in St. Louis, Missouri this morning, scored to put the game out of reach for the Penguins.

Three Stars: 3) Klim Kostin (goal, assist) 2) Will Bitten (goal, assist) 1) Charlie Lindgren (50 saves)

The Good: No flies on the Penguins here after a battle with Hershey in the First Round. 51 shots is something you want. You win more games being aggressive like that then you lose.

The Bad: Well, I’m now writing this paragraph after the game and those three straight power plays that the Penguins didn’t score on isn’t good, especially when it seems power plays are hard to come by in these Calder Cup Playoffs….The Penguins are now 3-11 in Game 1’s of Division Semifinals. That’s…something. It’s not good, but it’s something.

Turning Point: The Anas goal in the third or the save Lindgren had on Poulin in the first. Pick one, or both. The Anas goal tipped the scales for good for the Thunderbirds. The Lindgren save helped it get there.

Video Highlights: 

Talk to you again Thursday after Game 2.

Let’s Go Pens!

Marathon in Your Seat — Pens WIN 4-3 (OT) (WBS Wins Series 2-1)

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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.

Evaporation.

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?

Right?

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.

Ballgame.

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.

Video Highlights: 

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!

Onto the Third – Pens LOSE 2-1 (Series Tied 1-1)

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Foreshadowing from the League this morning.

Pens lose 2-1. Bears had a first period power play goal which led to a wave of momentum in the first period which spilled over to the second period. Dylan McIlrath scores a goal to put the Bears up 2-0. Felix Robert’s tip of a shot from the point brought the Penguins to within one, but in a flash series like this the offense is going to be extremely hard to come by.

Another crack to close it out Monday. You pretty much have to because it’s win or go home.

News before the game saw Jonathan Gruden get suspended for Game 2 after the League looked at the elbow on Joe Snively in the second period of Game 1. Snively did not play Sunday.

Sam Houde was in for Gruden. Here’s the whole lineup:

First Period: All Bears to start as you could sense the desperation off the hop. Bears get an early penalty and with Gruden, one of their best penalty killers in streetclothes, Beck Malenstyn shoots, Bobby Nardella scores.

Pens kind of withstood the rest of the period. Nappier was dialed in and none of the goals can be pinned on him Sunday.

Second Period: Bears get the second goal they were looking for with a goal from Dylan McIlrath.

Traffic in front of Nappier there. Nothing you could do.

Pens get a goal back, courtesy of Felix Robert.

Thought they had something going after that but Copley was good in goal and but for a gaffe of about :31 in Game 1, had been as good or better than Tommy Nappier.

Third Period: No scoring or penalties, shots were hard to come by and both goalies were outstanding in the period. The Penguins with Nappier pulled and after a timeout, never found the equalizer.

Three Stars: 3) Copley (22 saves) 2) Malenstyn (goal) 1) McIlrath (goal)

If the Penguins win Monday, they will likely bus straight up to Springfield for Game 1 of the division semis Tuesday. As evidenced by the following…

Seems cruel and unusual indeed. Almost an automatic win for the Thunderbirds who are still waiting to find out who they are playing next round.

Won’t have to wait long. Game 3 Monday at 7 in Wilkes-Barre.

Let’s Go Pens!

Buckeye Blasts — Pens WIN 3-0 (WBS leads 1-0)

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With all this talk this week with Casey DeSmith leaving Game 1 of the Pittsburgh Penguins / New York Rangers series in Game 1, necessitating the services of Louis Domingue and the recall of the only other NHL contracted goalie left in the system Alex D’Orio, this leaves Wilkes-Barre with the AHL contracted Tommy Nappier essentially all alone by himself in the minor leagues.

Doubt crept in the minds of the Penguins faithful, both up top and at the farm. Rightfully so, but none of this got to or seemed to bother Tommy Nappier.

Nappier makes 23 saves and he and the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins blank the Hershey Bears 3-0 Friday night. They lead the best of three series 1-0 with Game 2 and a chance to close out the series Sunday in Hershey.

The Penguins accomplished their game plan almost to a tee Friday. Hershey had just three shots after the first period and were down 2-0 after goals :31 apart by Will Reilly and Alex Nylander. They continued to bottle up an offensively struggling Hershey Bears team in the second period and the bears tried to pick up the physicality in the third but Nappier and the Penguins kept them quiet.

Here’s how they lined up:

Lineup Notes: Michael Chaput got hurt in the last game and is week to week. Taylor Fedun is skating at practice but is still week to week. Filip Lindberg is done for the year.

First Period: Pens withstand the games opening moments, an early Hershey power play and then Will Reilly scores to open his postseason account.

:31 later, Alex Nylander on a deflection of a P.O. Joseph shot.

And it was off to the races.

But the Penguins reigned in the emotions. There was 50 minutes left to play. No time to play fast and loose, not against Hershey.

They reigned it in. No more penalties in the period which was nice. They outshot Hershey 15-3.

Second Period: No scoring. Shots 9-9. Physicality picked up huge. POens had a power play but couldn’t get it to click. Jamie Devane and Kale Kessy fought to a draw.

Third Period: Hershey unloaded three offense but again, the Penguins and more importantly Nappier withstood the charge.

Pheonix Copley with larceny on Valtteri Puustinen, then again in a scrum. After getting beat twice in a :31 span in the first, he really settled in and locked on.

Jonathan Gruden would get tripped pursing a puck through the neutral zone with Hershey’s net empty, and Radim Zohrona would hit an empty net for a power play goal which made it 3-0 and finally iced it away.

Three Stars: 3) P.O. Joseph (two assists) 2) Will Reilly (goal) 1) Tommy Nappier (23 saves)

The Good: Nappier was dialed in and the Penguins defense made some of the saves easy for him. A chance to close out your biggest rival Sunday evening.

The Bad: Can’t think of anything. About as perfect as they drew it up.

Turning Point: Really hard to say that the second goal by Nylander all the way back at 9:05 of the first period is a turning point, but with Hershey’s arid offense of late, it really made it difficult for the Bears to get back into it.

Video Highlights: 

Game 2 is Sunday at 5:05 from Hershey. More after that game.

Let’s Go Pens!

Regular Season Finale — Pens LOSE 3-0

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I had this to say after the second period of this 3-0 Penguins loss to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in the regular season finale Saturday night.

A dud of a game, but when you are resting regulars and cemented into a seed and already know your opponent, who oh by the way didn’t play this weekend and are resting at home, you get these types of results.

They got scored on :28 into the first period when Linus Sandin scored after a blitzkrieg by the Phantoms to start. They settled in after that but couldn’t find a goal.

In the second, it was good for a bit, but workhorse goalie Felix Sandstom held them out and then Cal O’Reilly scored a power play goal that really made it seem like the game was out of reach then Isaac Ratcliffe split Colin Swoyer and Niclas Almari and scored right down Main Street to make it 3-0.

Not a lot of help for Alex D’Orio, who started for the Penguins in goal. Joel Blomqvist was released from his ATO and went back to Finland. He has to complete mandatory military service and probably will be back next year at this time. So it’s a tandem of Tommy Nappier from The Ohio State University and Alex D’Orio.

Nothing of significance happened in the third period. For posterity, here is how they lined up:

Note: Drew O’Connor was recalled by Pittsburgh about two hours before the game started.

Three Stars: 3) Isaac Ratcliffe (goal, assist) 2) Cal O’Reilly (goal, assist) 1) Felix Sandstrom (26 saves)

The Good: Relatively unscathed in these two meaningless games. Bring on Hershey.

The Bad: Niclas Almari still hasn’t changed. But that’s nitpicking a warm body in a meaningless hockey game for the Penguins.

Turning Point: The O’Reilly power play goal put it away for the Phantoms.

I’ll have a Calder Cup Playoff Preview this week, likely before the first round of playoff games which will be sometime during the week, out for you. I will pick each game, each round, and an eventual champion. I’ll probably be very wrong, but read it anyway.

Let’s Go Pens!