Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Postgamer

Haggerty Takes Two — Pens WIN 5-1

HER        vs.        WBS

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This was a dominating win by the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins.

To date, the Penguins are 7-2 against the Bears and 4-0 this month. A 5-1 win tonight keeps that rolling in the right direction.

Systems wise, the Bears are a mess. They are missing their best defenseman Madison Bowey because of injury and have no depth at the position. They have two goaltenders in Joe Cannata and Vitek Vanecek who would be better served in backup roles right now than trying to be the number one dog.

None of this matters to the Penguins who, despite personnel losses at forward and defense, keep racking up wins. They are the first AHL team to 10, 20 and now 30 wins this season.

Casey DeSmith opposed Vitek Vanecek

Lines were…

Garrett Wilson – Carter Rowney – Tom Kostopoulos
Dominik Simon – J-S Dea – Josh Archibald
Tom Sestito – Kevin Porter – Danny Kristo
Ryan Haggerty – Teddy Blueger – Patrick McGrath

Derrick Pouliot – Barry Goers
Stuart Percy – David Warsofsky
Brett Stern – Ethan Prow

Casey DeSmith – Tristan Jarry

Lineup Notes: Oskar Sundqvist is day to day with an upper body injury as told to the WBS media by Head Coach Clark Donatelli after the game tonight…Sahir Gill is the only healthy scratch the Penguins have right now as Lukas Bengtsson is still out with Lyme Disease, Thomas DiPauli is still recovering from back surgery and Tim Erixon with his concussion upper body injury and now Sundqvist. The Penguins sent Michael Webster to Wheeling today. He actually really went to Reading because that’s where the Nailers were tonight.

Before we get ripping on the post game recap, many thanks to the fellows at Chocolate Hockey for the GIFs tonight.

First Period: Carter Rowney cashes on a power play goal late in the period on a Tom Sestito shot from the near dot that gave the Penguins the lead in the first. It was the first time in seven games that the Penguins would score first…

All time classic sign right there.

Shots were 7-7 heading into the…

Second Period: Two goals by the Penguins 90 seconds apart by J-S Dea chipping a puck in and Ryan Haggerty scoring his first of two tonight on a nice feed by Teddy Blueger gave the Penguins a 3-0 lead quicker than the Bears knew what hit them…

Hershey called time out after the Haggerty goal but it didn’t matter, the Bears take two penalties sandwiched between a Garrett Wilson pummeling of Liam O’Brien. When are teams in the league going to learn not to throw with Wilson? He tagged the well traveled pugilist in O’Brien several times and won the fight easily. Big marks to O’Brien for not crumbling as some of the shots by Wilson were heavy and on target.

Ryan Haggerty scored his second to make it 4-0 Penguins. This goal ended Vanecek’s night. Enter Joe Cannata.

Bears took another penalty. They were down to start the period, needed to make a push on the road in front of a packed house, and only fired a meek 5 shots at DeSmith in the period and only had two through the first 12:28 of the period. It was all one way traffic by the Penguins.

Third Period: Zach Sanford pounded in a rebound that broke up DeSmith’s shutout and put the Bears on the board…

Before you started to think of a Bears comeback, Tom Kostopoulos scores this goal, mid-air and parallel to the ice, puts home a rebound to re-establish the Penguins four goal lead…

Pens nearly make it 6-1 when Cannata stopped a Kevin Porter and Danny Kristo rush…

Josh Archibald takes three penalties in the game but the Penguins go 4/4 on the penalty kill and hang on to win 5-1.

Three Stars: 3) Tom Kostopoulos (goal, assist, even) 2) J-S Dea (goal, assist, +2) and 1) Ryan Haggerty (two goals, +2)

Around the Division: Can we please pump the brakes on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms being a Calder Cup threat? The Providence Bruins, probably the best team in the Atlantic Division, throttle the Phantoms in Allentown by a score of 9-1. No, really, nine to one. The Phantoms have a full compliment of players and aren’t missing anyone due to injury / recall. Calder Cup contending teams don’t get obliterated like this. I am not saying by any means that this final score by default makes the Penguins a favorite by the way.

Other finals in the Atlantic: Bridgeport beats Toronto 4-3 at home…Rochester beats Hartford 3-1…Binghamton takes down Springfield 3-2 in overtime.

Standings: Penguins (.750 percentage points) — Lehigh Valley (.692) — Providence (.671) — Hershey (.588) — Bridgeport (.579) — Springfield (.487) — Hartford (.390)

Wheeling Update: Nailers beat Reading 2-1 in Reading tonight. Cody Wydo had a pair of goals. Doug Carr had 34 saves on 35 stops.

Video highlights….

The Week 15 AHL Power Rankings hit the blog Monday at 4, the Wheeling Wrap goes up Tuesday at noon. Lehigh Valley and Hershey play Sunday afternoon in Hershey. You want a Bears win if you are a Penguins fan. I may watch that game on AHL Live Sunday.

Leier Not Gonna Take It — Pens LOSE 5-3

WBS       @       button_lv200

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You better get ready, cause there is a new team that needs to be on your radar.

You know about the wars with the Hershey Bears. Hell, that team is like a sibling that you just don’t get along with. You are related by blood to them and have to love and respect them but deep down you detest their existence.

Then come the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, a new team on the block with a fresh new arena that sells out nearly every game in a market in Allentown punch drunk with the new affiliate of the Flyers an hour south that is here to stay.

But we are Penguins fans. And we hate the Flyers by default despite them being relevant since 1975. Something about that name and logo just gets the hair on the back of your neck to stand up.

It used to be, that the Flyers AHL affiliate in recent years was a punchline to a joke more than it was anything.

But not this year.

The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins have far and away been the best team in the AHL this season. But so have the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The only difference here is that these two teams, separated by about 50 miles, haven’t played each other at all this season all but once. There are 12 matchups scheduled between the two, but the majority of games played against by both teams have come against Hershey and not either Lehigh Valley or Wilkes-Barre.

Tonight, it was the Phantoms getting the better of the Penguins by a 5-3 score Friday night at PPL Center.

Only 10 more meetings to go!

Tristan Jarry opposed Anthony Stolarz.

Lines were…

Tom Sestito – J-S Dea – Tom Kostopoulos
Garrett Wilson – Oskar Sundqvist – Josh Archibald
Kevin Porter – Carter Rowney – Dominik Simon
Sahir Gill – Teddy Blueger – Ryan Haggerty

Derrick Pouliot – Ethan Prow
Stuart Percy – David Warsofsky
Brett Stern – Barry Goers

Tristan Jarry – Casey DeSmith

Lineup Notes: Third straight start for Tristan Jarry going back to this Monday in Syracuse. Jarry also started Wednesday in Hershey….the Penguins recalled Michael Webster from Wheeling Friday morning as Tim Erixon was listed as an injury scratch. Derrick Pouliot was back in the lineup missing the last two games with a lower body injury. Kevin Porter was back also from his illness.

First Period: :39 in, the Phantoms would jump on the board quickly on this goal by Scott Laughton…

Seventh straight game where the opponent of the Penguins scores first.

Things settled out between the two teams for a bit then after the two teams traded power plays you got the sense that the Penguins needed to get out of the way of the giant snowball that was bulletins downhill towards them. TJ Brennnan picked a corner and scored on a tail end of a power play for the Phantoms to make it 2-0.

It’s been a few games but the Penguins let the opponent score on their first power play.

J-S Dea scored off of a face-off just as a Penguins power play expired to bring Wilkes-Barre back to one…

Penguins got steamrolled a bit in the open, started to settle and began to hit back and it was 2-1 heading into the…

Second Period: Wilkes-Barre had seventeen shots in the first period. They had five in the second.

Phantoms scored :25 into the period when Robert Hagg finishes off of two on one that doubled the Lehigh Valley lead. Lehigh Valley must have scouted Tristan Jarry’s weaknesses as up to this point all three goals he allowed were over or by his glove.

Teams traded power plays but there was no scoring for the remainder of the period.

If you wanted a nice synopsis of play thus far, Tom had you covered….

Third Period: The Lehigh Valley Phantoms came into this game with the AHL’s best third period goal differential, outscoring opponents coming into the day in the final period 55-27 for a +28 goal differential.

So you knew the Penguins were going to come back in this one, right?

At first it didn’t look like it, as the Penguins were gift wrapped a 4:00 double minor on account of a Brennan high stick that drew blood, but Wilkes-Barre was unable to do anything with the man advantage.

Having that stuck in their craw, the Pens came out of a break determined to bring the game back level and in the span of 1:37, mission accomplished.

Ethan Prow takes a shot from the blue line and Ryan Haggerty gets a stick in on it on the way through to bring the Penguins to within one…

Then, David Warsofsky scores to tie the game for Wilkes-Barre…

Box, at the time of this writing, has it as a Warsofsky goal, so I am going with that.

One minute later, Taylor Leier scores to put the Phantoms out in front again. Over the glove of Jarry, again.

Leier worked Ethan Prow and Derrick Pouliot on that goal but more so Prow. There is a trend starting to develop here with Prow, who has hit a rough stretch. Nothing to be too concerned about from a player perspective as all rookies go through this, but if you are a defenseman on the best team in the AHL, you know that other teams, especially those like Lehigh Valley that are of the belief that they should be where you are, are going to get up to play you. Honestly, I think that Prow needs to be sat a few games or at the very least sent to Wheeling to keep his timing up and get game action and continue to develop.

Do the Penguins lose the game on that single play by Prow? No. But the trend is there. Your team just did to a team what they have done to others (score goals in the third period) and you break down defensively.

Oskar Sundqvist was not seen on the Penguins bench late in the third.

Chris Conner scored on an empty net with Jarry vacated to make it 5-3 to ice the game away.

Three Stars: 3) Teddy Blueger (two assists, +2) Colin McDonald (three assists, +3) and 1) Taylor Leier (goal, two assists, +2)

Around the Division: Everyone around the Penguins for the playoff hunt won tonight. Providence beat Rochester 4-3. The Bruins visit Allentown tomorrow. Bridgeport beats Springfield 5-3. The Sound Tigers inch closer to Hershey for the fourth spot and Hartford loses to Toronto 7-4. The Bears were off.

Standings: Penguins (.744 percentage points) — Lehigh Valley (.711) — Providence (.663) — Hershey (.603) — Bridgeport (.568) — Springfield (.487) — Hartford (.400)

Wheeling Update: The Norfolk Admirals, previously undefeated in 2017, are defeated no more with a 9-2 loss to the Wheeling Nailers who throttle the Admirals at Scope. Gage Quinney was 2-2-4, Christian Hilbrich was 1-2-3, Jordan Kwas had two goals, Danny Fickj had three assists. Sean Maguire stopped 25 of 27 to pick up the win. The Nailers travel overnight to Reading to take on the Royals Saturday.

If the Phantoms roll a highlight clip I will edit one ion here. If not, look for the Gameday setup against the Bears to come Saturday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

Ses-Three-To — Pens WIN 5-3

WBS        @       HER

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When Mike O’Brien tweeted out Monday afternoon the lines for the Penguins matinee game against the Syracuse Crunch and noted that Tom Sestito was going to play on the top line, I tweeted this at the time…

The experiment didn’t work as the Penguins lost for the first time in 2017 to Syracuse that day.

Fast forward to Wednesday night and Sestito was back on the top line again and seeing power play time with the first unit.

No, this isn’t a situation where the Penguins are so hard up for forwards due to injuries and recalls that Sestito is forced there. Not at all. (yet)

In case you missed the Second Quarter Grades I ran Sunday afternoon, I had this to say about Tom Sestito…

Tom Sestito – 5-3-8, +2, 14 GP – Sestito is a fighter. The AHL wants to phase out fighting. Guys who fight for a living in this league will be gone in two years. Not Sestito. What does he do in response to the AHL’s crackdown on knuckle throwing? Become one of the biggest offensive threats on the ice. He has a great setup man in Teddy Blueger, and is finishing. If you fight for a living and that’s all you do, you fade away. Sestito is playing like someone who deserves to be in the lineup and will contribute with points instead of penalty minutes. You just hope he keeps it up. Grade: A-

So in keeping with leaving Tom Sestito on the top line again in Hershey, what does he do?

  • Get in a fight :05 off the opening face-off and is thrown out of the game? Nope.
  • Injure Chris Bourque with a cheap boarding penalty, takes on two Bears skaters in retaliation and is assessed 54 penalty minutes? Try again.
  • Punches a referee and goes after a fan? Nah.

Try a goal and two assists, helping the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins to a 5-3 win over the Hershey Bears on Wednesday night at Giant Center.

The Penguins, for all accounts, were extremely lucky to win this game. Reason? In the third period of a 3-3 game, a period that saw the Penguins start with a 3-1 lead, I tweeted this…

They ended up with three more for a total of 12 in the second and third period. Out of those three came two more goals.

Pens good or Bears bad? I think a combination of both.

I honestly don’t know what any of that means, I looked up articles trying to explain PDO in layman terms and was met with a bunch of jargon on advanced statistics. Considering I have Horace Gooch to thank for sitting next to me in Statistics 302 in college so I could check out his answers in order to maintain a C status through my college years and pass that Statistics course in college, I’m a math illiterate. Numbers of any kind challenge me. All I know is Hershey’s is bad.

Anyway, not to bore you. C’s get degrees, by the way. Proud Coppin State College, now University Class of 2001 Alumnus right here.

Tristan Jarry opposed Joe Cannata.

Lines were…

Tom Sestito – J-S Dea – Tom Kostopoulos
Scott Wilson – Oskar Sundqvist – Josh Archibald
Dominik Simon – Carter Rowney – Danny Kristo
Sahir Gill – Teddy Blueger – Ryan Haggerty

Brett Stern – Tim Erixon
Stuart Percy – Barry Goers
David Warsofsky – Ethan Prow

Tristan Jarry – Casey DeSmith

Lineup Notes: Warsofsky was re-assigned back to Pittsburgh Tuesday. Cameron Gaunce was recalled to Pittsburgh in the swap. This is smart roster jockeying as Warsofsky is waiver eligible…Kevin Porter was sick. Sahir Gill and Ryan Haggerty were in for the aforementioned Porter and Patrick McGrath. No other changes other than Warsofsky down for the recalled Gaunce.

First Period: The last time these two teams met back on January 8, they combined for a sum total of six goals a piece and there were constant stoppages because goaltenders were fishing pucks out of their nets. Fast forward to the present, it was an extremely first period for both teams, with no whistles for the first 10:41 of play.

Penguins were rewarded the only power play of the period but Hershey killed it easily. Later, Ethan Prow down low in his own corner went to get rid of the puck but put it right on the stick of Nathan Walker in the slot. Walker wasted no time giving the Bears a 1-0 lead. Shots were 13-10 Penguins and but for that Prow gaffe, a really even period by both teams.

Second Period: :29 in, Tom Sestito did this…

Hershey then went on a power play with Oskar Sundqvist off for a slashing penalty and hit the post three times in the first minute on said power play.

Then, with Jarry off the ice for a delayed call on the Bears, Wilkes-Barre scores to take the lead at 2-1….

That’s J-S Dea centering to Sestito who left a drop pass to Teddy Blueger who pounded it home to give the Penguins the lead.

Wilkes-Barre got a little antsy in its own end and was whistled for tripping. On the ensuing penalty kill, Tristan Jarry left his net to play a puck, mishandled it, Bears nearly score on the empty net. They didn’t. Pens got it out. Blueger relentlessly forechecked Aaron Ness into a turnover straight to Josh Archibald who scored to give the Penguins a 3-1 lead….

Bears hit another post on a later power play then later on Tim Erixon hit a post on a Penguin power play. That was five posts hit on the man advantage alone on a power play. In the second period.

If you made the trip down I-81 or watched the game on AHL Live and felt like the entire period was played in front of Tristan Jarry, you were correct. Shots were 12-5 Hershey in a period largely dominated by the Bears. But the Penguins score three times on just five shots and led by two goals heading into the…

Third Period: Paul Carey absolutely works Tim Erixon and goes end to end and scores over the glove of Tristan Jarry to put the Bears back within one. I talk about Dave Warsofsky being snubbed for all-stars. Paul Carey didn’t get named either. Carey at one point this season had a 19 game point streak for the Bears.

Defenseman Darren Dietz was left unmarked and walked right in and scored to tie the game at three a piece right past half way. In a game where it was all Hershey for the last 30 minutes of game action, it was tied.

Carter Rowney scored his fourth goal in as many games when Tom Sestito, fresh off the bench, created space to make a pass to Barry Goers who put the puck on net where Rowney was to score on a rebound to make it a 4-3 Wilkes-Barre lead….

Garrett Wilson added the insurance goal with 36.9 left in regulation on an empty net to salt the game away.

Three Stars: 3) Paul Carey (goal, -1) 2) Tom Sestito (goal, two assists, +2) and 1) Carter Rowney (game winning goal, -1)

Sestito, announced as the second star, did this…

Oh, the content!

Sestito, to the papers, as told to Tom after the game…


Before you start, Louis Robitaille used to incite Wilkes-Barre fans all the time. Braden Holtby did something similar after a shootout win one time in Wilkes-Barre where he fist pumped all the way to center ice. It cuts both ways. You just hope you aren’t on the butt end of it. Someone on the Bears that we all hate in Wilkes-Barre will do something that the Penguins fans don’t appreciate and playfully celebrate it to the chagrin of us all and we all be mad about it and boo, flip the player off and fill up the social media mentions of the Bears, the AHL and scribble on Facebook about how that player should be fined, suspended, drawn and quartered, or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

Around the Division: They all watched us.

Standings: Penguins (.763 percentage points) — Lehigh Valley (.703) — Providence (.654) — Hershey (.603) — Bridgeport (.556) — Springfield (.500) — Hartford (.410)

Lehigh Valley has three games in hand and are about to get really cozy with Wilkes-Barre with 11 head to head meetings starting Friday in Allentown. The Penguins have insurance in the form of a 9 point lead, but the race for the Atlantic is far, far from over.

Wheeling Update: The Nailers and ECHL in whole are on the All-Star Break up in Glens Falls.

Video highlights…

Pens travel to Allentown for a date against the Phantoms Friday at 7. Gameday setup will hit the blog Friday afternoon at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

Streak Stoppers — Pens LOSE 4-1

SYR          @          NOR

1                                              4

Before you start, no, the reason the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins lost today was not because Jake Guentzel got recalled to Pittsburgh today. It wasn’t because Chad Ruhwedel was either. No, not because of Brett Stern coming up from Wheeling or Derrick Pouliot missing the game with an injury.

Here’s the facts. The Syracuse Crunch do not lose at home. Coming into this afternoons game, the Crunch were 13-3-1-2 on home ice. One of those three losses came courtesy of the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins on Saturday. The Crunch are the number one team in the North Division and while you may want to complain about Pittsburgh taking two players from the farm here in Wilkes-Barre, try walking a mile in the shoes of a Syracuse Crunch fan. Literally everyday for the past month, maybe month and a half, the Crunch have had to deal with a roster transaction. I don’t think Syracuse has dressed the same lineup in back to back games in 20 games.

So in a rematch Monday afternoon with some roster shuffling on both sides and the situation being what it was, the Penguins lost for just the first time in 2017 and see their seven game winning streak comes to an end by a 4-1 score.

Tristan Jarry opposed Adam Wilcox.

Lines were…

Tom Sestito – Kevin Porter – Tom Kostopoulos
Garrett Wilson – Oskar Sundqvist – Josh Archibald
Dominik Simon – Carter Rowney – Danny Kristo
J-S Dea – Teddy Blueger – Patrick McGrath

Brett Stern – Tim Erixon
Stuart Percy – Barry Goers
Cameron Gaunce – Ethan Prow

Tristan Jarry – Casey DeSmith

Lineup Notes: A ton. As mentioned in the open, Brett Stern was brought up from the Wheeling Nailers on a PTO yesterday. Chad Ruhwedel was recalled to Pittsburgh with the news that Kris Letting is week to week with a lower body injury. Also, Jake Guentzel was recalled to jumpstart their offense having lost three games in a row. Derrick Pouliot was out and is day to day with a lower body injury per the broadcast.

First Period: Penguins carried play the first ten minutes of the period, but Syracuse would strike first on their first shot of the game when Yanni Gourde pounced on a defensive cross up between Barry Goers and Stuart Percy to give the Crunch a 1-0 lead…

Immediately after the goal, Garrett Wilson high sticked Cory Conacher, drew blood, and the Crunch were on a 4:00 power play. The Penguins nearly killed it, Brett Stern broke a stick, Carter Rowney gave him his, the Penguins cleared it, a puck rimming around the cage of Jarry took a funny bounce and Syracuse nearly scored on an open net. Daniel Walcott scored on the tail end of the double minor….

Jarry stopped Walcott’s first attempt but Walcott followed his shot and squeaked it past Jarry to put the Crunch up 2-0.

If this makes any sense, the Penguins were the better team in the period but the scoreboard didn’t agree with them.

First Intermission Highlights: Love that Syracuse offers these…

Second Period: Penguins came out knocking hard on the door to score a goal, but Wilcox wasn’t answering. Then, Syracuse scored to extend their lead to 3-0.

Two issues here. Linesmen called the Penguins for icing setting up the face-off in front of Jarry. I didn’t think it was, the players on the ice didn’t think it was and Clark Donatelli didn’t think it was. That’s the first problem. The second problem was that drop by the linesman. You’ve read recently how I think that the linesmen have been worse than the referees.

Penguins finally go their first power play of the game and Seth had this to say about that when it came and went…

Carter Rowney would score his third game in as many games since returning from injury off this nice rebound of an initial Dominik Simon shot…

Penguins couldn’t score on another power play after the Rowney goal. Adam Wilcox stoned Dominik Simon with the glove in the slot off of a face-off. A big time save by Wilcox to keep it a two goal lead heading into the third.

Second Period Highlights: 

Third Period: Penguins would outshoot the Crunch 10-3 in the third period but Adam Wilcox stood on his head in the period and preserved the two goal lead for his side. The Penguins hit a post. Wilkes-Barre had two power play chances, couldn’t score. In fact, going with a 6-on-4 advantage with Jarry pulled, Matthew Peca hit an empty net to make it 4-1 Crunch.

Postgame, as told to Seth Lakso of The Citizens’ Voice Clark Donatelli said that the Lyme Disease that was bothering Lukas Bengtsson is back again and that Derrick Pouliot’s injury is walking a fine line between day to day and week to week. Personally, I wouldn’t expect to see Pouliot Wednesday in Hershey nor Friday in Lehigh Valley. I think they re-assess Thursday maybe at best to determine his status for the weekend which includes a Saturday home game against Hershey.

One other note, Tristan Jarry took the loss and this was his first since December 9 at home against the Hershey Bears.

Three Stars: 3) Mathieu Brodeur (assist, +1) 2) Adam Wilcox (31 saves on 32 shots) 1) Daniel Walcott (goal, assist, +1)

Around the Division: One other game this afternoon on Martin Luther King Day, the best third period team in the AHL in the Lehigh Valley Phantoms were down 3-1 in Springfield, rattle off three straight goals in the games final 3:57 and beat the Springfield Thunderbirds 4-3.

Standings: Penguins (.756 percentage points) — Lehigh Valley (.703) — Providence (.654) — Hershey (.618) — Bridgeport (.556) — Springfield (.500) — Hartford (.410)

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off, they visit Norfolk this Friday. More tomorrow in the weekly Wheeling Wrap.

Video highlights in a nice tidy tweet…

In case you missed it, I published the Second Quarter Grades and the Week 14 AHL Power Rankings on Sunday. Check out the links or keep scrolling down.

But for anything breaking, look for the Wheeling Wrap tomorrow at noon then the Gameday setup against Hershey on Wednesday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

Three in the Third – Seven in a Row — Pens WIN 3-1

SYR          @          NOR

3                                              1

Continuing my theme this week of what exactly makes a great team, I’ll offer another courtesy of play-by-play man Mike O’Brien…

Penguins win 3-1 in Syracuse, scoring three goals in the third period and finally breaking open a game that was gummed up by two division leaders not allowing the others an inch of space to make play.

It should be a heck of a rematch Monday afternoon. The Pens are staying in Syracuse tonight and Sunday and will play there again Monday afternoon.

It was a battle of the AHL’s best road team in Wilkes-Barre (.750) vs. the AHL’s best home team in the Syracuse Crunch who have a .806 points percentage at home.

Casey DeSmith opposed Kristers Gudlevskis.

Lines were…

Sahir Gill – Kevin Porter – Tom Kostopoulos
Garrett Wilson – Oskar Sundqvist – Josh Archibald
Jake Guentzel – Carter Rowney – Dominik Simon
Tom Sestito – Teddy Blueger – J-S Dea

Derrick Pouliot – Tim Erixon
Stuart Percy – Chad Ruhwedel
Cameron Gaunce – Ethan Prow

Casey DeSmith – Tristan Jarry

Lineup Notes: Sahir Gill was back in the lineup for Danny Kristo. Head Coach Clark Donatelli put him on the top line. Ryan Haggerty took warmups but was scratched. On defense, Barry Goers yielded to Chad Ruhwedel.

First Period: Jake Guentzel doesn’t miss a lot when he shoots the puck, but when Dominik Simon and Carter Rowney set up Guentzel with some nice passing plays that drew Kristers Gudlevskis out of position leaving Guentzel with an open net, the Penguins rookie hit the post and the puck dribbled wide.

That near miss gave Gudlevskis some confidence as he went and stopped Tom Kostopoulos not once, not twice, but three times in one sequence.

Tom Sestito and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond fought in a old school heavyweight fight you don’t see that often anymore. Leblond got the takedown on Sestito after Tom switched hands.

Teams traded penalties. Josh Archibald was poked checked away by Gudlevskis after he got a step on a man.

Later, Jake Dotchin pounced on a puck left in the slot and fired it home past DeSmith that gave the Crunch a 1-0 lead.

First Period Highlights: I, for one, love that a team offers up something like this because it has in visual form what I just described above…

Second Period: It was a chippy, choppy period for both division leaders. Daniel Walcott lowered the boom on a legal hit on Ethan Prow that put Prow in the locker room for a while (Prow did return) which prompted a Sahir Gill cross checking penalty.

I don’t like the fact that they are phasing out fighting because of things like this. Guy takes a run at your guy, but because you don’t know how to fight because no one taught you to, you can’t do anything other than just take runs at the guy that hit your guy or runs at anyone else on the ice not wearing your jersey. That’s where injuries happen. Sahir Gill was so mad that it forced him to cross check someone. What if he cross checks him down hard onto the ice and that causes an injury that causes an injury? It’s just silly that they are totally trying to take fighting out of the game entirely because it’s going to breed idiotic retaliation penalties like this one.

And get a blogger off topic by dedicating a long paragraph editorializing a position on a game in general versus recapping a hockey game.

For the rest of the period, it seemed like that whenever one team went on the power play, they would take a penalty and the majority of the period was played four on four.

Second Period Highlights: 

Third Period: Carter Rowney scored his second goal in as many night with a slow developing play with Dominik Simon as a trailer. Rowney banks a shot off Gudlevskis and into the net that tied the game…

Pens would edge ahead as a puck deflects off of Cory Conacher and into his own net. With Dominik Simon the last Penguin touching the puck, he gets credit…

That goal snapped an 18 game scoring drought for Simon.

Casey DeSmith remained sharp throughout the game that kept it a one goal game and kept Syracuse from responding after going down one in the third period in stunning fashion.

Through some more, ‘why I oughtta’s’ from players on the ice that don’t know how to fight, Jake Guentzel hits an empty net on a power play for his side that makes it 3-1 Wilkes-Barre. Tom Kostopoulos assisted here and that gave him 300 assists in his AHL career.

Three Stars: 3) Casey DeSmith (22 saves on 22 shots) 2) Jake Dotchin (goal, -1) 1) Dominik Simon (goal, assist, +1)

Around the Division: Hershey with the big assist tonight for the Penguins in beating the Lehigh Valley Phantoms by a score of 6-4…St. John’s beats Hartford on the Rock 4-2…Utica beats Bridgeport 3-1…Providence shuts out Springfield 1-0.

Standings: Penguins (.776 percentage points) — Lehigh Valley (.694) — Providence (.671) — Hershey (.635) — Bridgeport (.543) — Springfield (.514) — Hartford (.410)

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were beaten on home ice by the Kalamazoo Wings by a score of 5-1. Brett Stern scored for Wheeling, Doug Carr took the loss for the Nailers in goal.

Video highlights in a tweet:

Second Period Grades are due, and with the Week 14 AHL Power Rankings, coupled with the Penguins game Monday at 1 and the Wheeling Wrap Tuesday I may just drop the Second Quarter Grades as soon as I finish them Sunday afternoon, run the Week 14 AHL Power Rankings later on in the day, mention both on the social media sides and link in the Monday postgame story.

Lots of stuff for me to write and you guys to read.

Let’s Go Pens!

Welcome Back, Carter — Pens WIN 3-2

WBS          @          HER

3                                                 2

Going back to the narrative I led with after the Penguins beat the Toronto Marlies Wednesday night about great teams winning games, add one more category which I forgot.

Great teams win games they have no business winning.

The Rochester Americans should have won this game tonight going away. They outshot the Penguins 23-13 after two period, had seven power plays and scored first. They should have won the game tonight.

But Carter Rowney and Tom Kostopoulos had other ideas.

Rowney, making his first appearance returning from injury, scores a goal and assists on another as the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins get a key player back into the mix and beat the Americans 3-2 in Western New York Friday night.

That’s the sixth win in a row for the Penguins, who remain unbeaten in 2017.

Tristan Jarry opposed John Muse.

Lines were…

Dominik Simon – Kevin Porter – Tom Kostopoulos
Garrett Wilson – Oskar Sundqvist – Josh Archibald
Jake Guentzel – Carter Rowney – Danny Kristo
Tom Sestito – Teddy Blueger – J-S Dea

Derrick Pouliot – Tim Erixon
Cameron Gaunce – Ethan Prow
Stuart Percy – Barry Goers

Tristan Jarry – Casey DeSmith

Lineup Notes: Carter Rowney returned from injury, his first action since November 25. Rowney missed 18 games. The Penguins went 14-3-1-0 without Rowney’s services. Chad Ruhwedel was still recovering from illness and was a healthy scratch. Other healthy scratches included Patrick McGrath, Sahir Gill, Lukas Bengtsson and Ryan Haggerty.

First Period: Rochester owned the period and jumped all over the Penguins to start, earning themselves a 1-0 lead quickly, but two power play goals put the Penguins ahead 2-1 at the end of the first.

Seconds into their first power play, Carter Rowney made up for lost time with this goal…

Mind the Penguins tweet there, that was indeed Carter Rowney’s goal.

Five seconds into another power play, Tim Erixon unleashes a shot from the blue line that Tom Kostopoulos gets a stick on to put the Penguins ahead 2-1…

Rochester was putting a lot of pucks on Jarry from all angles, firing him into awkward, nonchalant type saves. Rochester outshot the Penguins 14-6 in this first period.

Second Period: Penguins were outshot 23-13 at the end of the period, no scoring here and it was the Wilkes-Barre penalty kill that was better than the Rochester power play as it seemed like this period was largely dominated by special teams.The Amerks had three consecutive chances on the man advantage in the second period but the Penguins penalty kill really limited Rochester’s chances. Teddy Blueger will be getting some money or some free meals from Garrett Wilson at some point soon as Blueger was really good at killing penalties in this game. Wilson, to this point, took three penalties which were all hooking penalties.

Third Period: Penguins take their fourth straight penalty and Rochester finally makes them pay when ex-Penguin Cal O’Reilly picks a corner and ties the game for the Amerks.

Garrett Wilson took his fourth penalty of the game, but Josh Archibald drew his second penalty of the game and Stuart Percy scored at even strength off of this change up of a shot that put the Penguins ahead for good….

It looked like it went off of Tyson Strachan’s skate and in past Muse.

Rochester, with Muse pulled for the extra attacker, was later never able to find the equalizer.

Three Stars: 3) Daniel Muzito-Bagenda (goal, +1) 2) Carter Rowney (goal, assist, even) 1) Tom Kostopoulos (goal, assist, -1)

Around the Division: Lehigh Valley strikes four times on twelve power plays and crush the Hershey Bears 6-2 in Allentown. Five straight losses for the Bears….Binghamton beats Bridgeport at home 3-2 in overtime…Hartford clips St. John’s in Newfoundland in overtime 2-1 also and so does Springfield to Albany in the Capital District 3-2. Utica beat Providence 2-1 in regulation in Rhode Island.

Standings: Penguins (.770 percentage points) — Lehigh Valley (.714) — Providence (.662) — Hershey (.625) — Bridgeport (.559) — Springfield (.529) — Hartford (.421)

Wheeling Update: The Nailers lose 4-3 in Toledo to the Walleye. Sean Maguire took the loss, Doug Carr backed up. Christian Hilbrich, Andrew Ammon and Brett Stern scored for Wheeling.

Video highlights…

Pens will bus east on Interstate 90 to Syracuse for a 7 o’clock start Saturday against the Crunch. Gameday setup for that will be on the blog Saturday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

Finding Ways to Win — Pens WIN 2-1

TOR           @           TOR

2                                                1

The thing about great teams is that they always, no matter the circumstances, find ways to win.

They can blow out an opponent, like the Penguins did last Friday at home against the Hershey Bears.

They can go up early, lose the lead in the middle, rally and win like they did Saturday at home against Binghamton.

They can win firefights, with multiple lead changes in the third period at the tail end of a three in three and win in overtime like they did Sunday in Hershey.

They can win a goaltenders duel, like they did tonight in Toronto by a score of 2-1.

A Marlies skater playing in his fourth AHL game this season scores on a lucky shot late in the second period to open the scoring of a game largely dominated by the goaltenders. Any average AHL team starts to pack it in and take risks. Not the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins.

Jake Guentzel is the first player in the AHL to 20 goals when he pounces on a turnover and scores to tie the game at one a piece.

Later, and with only minutes left, Tom Sestito, of all people, scores again to put the Penguins ahead for good and they hold on and win.

Five wins in a row for Wilkes-Barre, unbeaten in 2017. It seems that whatever you throw at this team, fastball, curveball, changeup, screwball, slurve, eephus, knuckleball, spitter, whatever, they are parking it 20 rows deep in center field.

Tristan Jarry opposed Garret Sparks.

Lines were…

Dominik Simon – Kevin Porter – Tom Kostopoulos
Garrett Wilson – Oskar Sundqvist – Josh Archibald
Jake Guentzel – J-S Dea – Danny Kristo
Tom Sestito – Teddy Blueger – Ryan Haggerty

Derrick Pouliot – Tim Erixon
Cameron Gaunce – Ethan Prow
Stuart Percy – Barry Goers

Tristan Jarry – Casey DeSmith

Lineup Notes: Tristan Jarry was reassigned from Pittsburgh today and David Warsofsky was recalled to Pittsburgh because the flu is going through the room up top. Jarrett Burton was sent to Wheeling earlier this week.

First Period: It was a very quick, crisp period by both teams. No penalties. Shots were 11-9 Penguins and it was Wilkes-Barre that dominated stretches of play. Garrett Sparks denied Dominik Simon twice in one shift then Tristan Jarry denied a Colin Greening shot on a three on two a few minutes later. The one thing I picked up the most in this overly uneventful period was Nick Hart on color describing the Penguins / Marlies shot chart. He described the Penguins shot chart looking like a bees nest and the Marlies shot chart looking like an umbrella.

Second Period:  First half of the game was a goaltending duel between Tristan Jarry and Garrett Sparks. Sparks denied Ethan Prow in the slot, a Sundqvist one timer, then Jake Guentzel hit a post followed up by Dominik Simon.

Later, Tony Cameranesi scored his first goal of the season on a low angle turn around shot on Jarry that game then Marlies a 1-0 lead…

Third Period: Jake Guentzel strikes on a Marlies turnover.

Another angle….

As mentioned in the open, Jake Guentzel is the first player in the AHL to 20 goals. It’s Guentzel’s 32nd game.

Tristan Jarry stoned Cameranesi shorthanded to keep the game at 1-1. Kevin Porter made a horrible exit pass in his own end.

Teddy Blueger was the latest Penguin to hit a post for Wilkes-Barre. The posts must be bigger in Canada.

Tom Sestito then scored this goal top shelf off a nice feed by Derrick Pouliot that put the Penguins ahead 2-1….

Four goals in the last four games for Sestito. Even me, the math idiot, can tell you that is a goal a game for a player known more for his fists than his goal scoring prowess.

Three Stars: 3) Tom Sestito (goal, +1) 2) Garrett Sparks (32 saves on 34 shots) 1) Tristan Jarry 27 saves on 28 shots)

Around the Division: Hartford beats Rochester in Western New York by a score of 3-1. Springfield loses in overtime to Albany at home 3-2. Everyone else was off.

Standings: Penguins (.764 points percentage) — Lehigh Valley (.706) — Providence (.681) — Hershey (.643) — Bridgeport (.561) — Springfield (.500) — Hartford (.405)

Wheeling Update: The Nailers remain to be the stone in the shoe for the ECHL’s best Toledo Walleye. Nailers win 5-2. Sean Maguire named third star with 31 saves on 33 shots.

Video highlights…

Pens will bus to Rochester and practice there in advance of Friday’s game with the Americans. If there is anything blog-worthy I will have something here Thursday. If not, look for the next update for the blog at 3 Friday for the Rochester Gameday setup.

Let’s Go Pens!