Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Postgamer

Casey’s Fortress — Pens WIN 4-1


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I guess you could say that they are rolling.

Another stingy win at home, this time a 4-1 victory over the equally as stingy Springfield Thunderbirds team for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins on Friday night.

Andrew Agozzino added a pair of goals in the first and the Penguins rode a 7-for-7 penalty kill which included a 1:56 of two man disadvantage with 41 saves from their net minder Casey DeSmith who has been playing out of his mind of recent. The Penguins, in the last three games at home, have allowed just one goal.

Well, the weather is getting colder and the Penguins are warming up. Go figure.

DeSmith opposed Chris Driedger.


Lineup Notes: Essentially Ryan Haggerty for Andreas Martinsen, with Anthony Angello bumped to the second line in Martinsen’s spot and Haggerty where Angello was.

First Period: David Warsofsky’s shot from the point was tipped on the way in and Andrew Agozzino was the last guy to sweep it across for an early 1-0 Penguins lead.

But Springfield would answer right back when Anthony Greco would lead a charge up ice, blow a tire, regain himself, drive to the net where Blaine Byron was set up and put a shot on, fell, got his own rebound and shot again, this time going in.

187:06 in between goals. Impressive.

No GIF on it, but a lot of commas.

Agozzino again, this time off of a ridiculous pass from Stefen Noesen from behind the net. Just watch this.

Penguins found themselves in penalty trouble late in the period when all of a sudden, Springfield had 1:56 of a two man advantage when Chase Berger drew blood on a high stick.

Second Period: Springfield managed just one shot on goal during the entirety of the two man advantage as well as the 2:04 leftover on the Berger double minor. It frustrated them, because they started to push and shove after the whistle and it really devolved into a scrap fest from there on out.


Kevin Czuczman caught a great pass from Joseph Blandisi and scored to make it 3-1.

Springfield had ample opportunities in the period to get back into the game, but this isn’t Casey DeSmith’s first time at the rodeo.

Third Period: The pushing and shoving didn’t stop, I didn’t tweet every penalty or every time a referees arm went up. Finally referees Jake Rekucki and Jason Williams started adding on ten minute misconducts to the infractions. I’m assuming there is only a number of times you can tell a player to stop, so they got tired of it and threw them out.

Ryan Haggerty nailed an empty netter from his own blue line to seal it.

Three Stars: 3) Sam Miletic (two assists) 2) Casey DeSmith (41 saves) 1) Andrew Agozzino (two goals)

The Good: The penalty killing unit went 7-for-7. The Thunderbirds power play isn’t anything to write home about. Also, Casey DeSmith is proving why he is an NHL goaltender essentially on loan to an AHL club. He’s good, he’s falling into a dangerous groove and the Penguins need to ride this for as long as they can.

The Bad: Just as the penalty kill was 7-for-7, the lack of discipline needs to be addressed. Any other team with a better power play unit and it becomes a run and gun affair.

Turning Point: After killing the two man advantage, Kevin Czuczman’s goal that gave the Penguins a two goal cushion was all the momentum to carry the day for the Penguins victory.

Around the Division: Hartford continues to pile up points. A late goal in the third guarantees overtime with Providence, yet the Bruins take down the Wolf Pack 4-3 in a shootout….Hershey is shutout in back to back games, this time to Charlotte 3-0….Lehigh Valley loses 3-1 in Binghamton…..Bridgeport loses 4-3 in overtime up in Belleville, Ontario.

Standings: Hartford 25 — Penguins 20 — Springfield and Providence 20 — Hershey 18 — Lehigh Valley 17 — Charlotte 14 — Bridgeport 12

Wheeling Update: The Nailers hosted the Utah Grizzlies Friday and lost 2-1. Renars Krastenbergs had the only goal for Wheeling in the loss, Alex D’Orio took the loss in goal.

Video Highlights:

Penguins are back home looking for five in a row against Lehigh Valley. Gameday setup is here on the blog Saturday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

Lights! Camera! Shutouts!


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Dueling shutouts by both goaltenders and back to back shutouts by Casey DeSmith, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins win 1-0 Wednesday night against Hershey.

The Penguins have not allowed any goals to be scored at all under this new LED lighting system. I don’t know if it’s just a matter of happenstance, something or nothing, but it’s one thing to get a shutout, it’s another to get back to back ones.

Stefan Noesen’s slap shot goal in the top of the first in the shootout round was the only goal to pierce the goal line all night and the Penguins take the game and third place in the division.

Casey DeSmith opposed Pheonix Copley.


Lineup Notes: Thomas DiPauli returned from injury and replaced Justin Almeida. No other changes from Saturday against Syracuse.

First Period: Pens came out flying, outshooting Hershey 8-1 at one point. Hershey had two consecutive power plays, regained some of the momentum but then the Pens took it back and outshot the Bears 14-5 in the period. No one scored, though.

Second Period: Same as the first. Momentum flipped a bit, Bears hot, then the Pens and then the Bears. If I was writing this paragraph from a scratch post instead of in the second intermission, it would have instead read, “After a scoreless first and second period where a bunch of nothing or almost happened goal wise…”

Third Period: Same as the first and second. No power plays here. Back and forth, but off to…

Overtime: Pens had a three on one and flubbed a shot. Andrew Agozzino had a breakaway and had a bad shot. No. One. Was. Scoring.

Shootout: Stefan Noesen scored on a slap shot in the top of the first, everyone else missed. Casey DeSmith doesn’t allow goals even in gimmick shootout rounds.

Three Stars: 3) Pheonix Copley (29 save shutout) 2) Stefan Noesen (shootout goal) 1) Casey DeSmith (28 save shutout)

The Good: Defense looked great last weekend. It looked downright stingy tonight against Hershey and all of that offense.

The Bad: Would rather the OT or regulation win, but this category after a game like this is nitpicking.

Turning Point: Noesen’s goal in the shootout gave the Pens the 1-0 lead that, ultimately won them the contest.

Around the Division: Only other action today was a kids day game in Springfield between the Thunderbirds and Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Springfield wins 2-1 and are the third AHL team, second in the division behind Hartford, to win ten games. Certainly unexpected. Everyone else was off.

Standings: Hartford 24 – Springfield 20 – Penguins 18 – Providence 18 – Hershey 18 – Lehigh Valley 16 – Charlotte 12 – Bridgeport 11

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off.

Video Highlights: Brief. Bears had em first. Here they are:

Back at it Friday against Springfield. Gameday setup for that will be at 3 Friday. Power Rankings Thursday at 11 first.

Let’s Go Pens!

DeSmith With DeShutout — Pens WIN 2-0


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Here’s a telling little nugget dropped on Twitter by Pens play by play man Nick Hart after the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins 2-0 win over Syracuse Saturday night.

So the defense, which we have kind of singled out as a bit of an early problem, has a bit of of a course correction as the Penguins sweep the weekend and pick up a maximum of four points to remain in contention in the Atlantic.

However, this was all Casey DeSmith tonight. The Penguins didn’t really give him a lot of run support tonight nor Friday night with Dustin Tokarski in Utica, but when you are scoring more goals than your opponent, it doesn’t really make a difference if it’s 2-1 or 1-0.

Syracuse outshot the Penguins 35-22 tonight and went 0-for-6 on the power play. DeSmith dazzled in goal, stopping a few 2-on-1 rushes and was generally dialed in from the drop. Sometimes you can tell early on if a goalie has it, and DeSmith definitely did, picking up his first shutout of the season.

He opposed Spencer Martin.

Lines were…

Syracuse didn’t post any lines that I saw through their platforms.

Lineup Notes: Essentially Andreas Martinsen for Ryan Haggerty vet for vet, Jon Lizotte was back in from injury for Matt Abt.

First Period: Andrew Agozzino got one to go with a weird play where he had a puck deflect off of him and then off of a Crunch defender that went in for a 1-0 Wilkes-Barre lead.

The new LED light system slaps, by the way. 100% better than the old sodium lights they had.

Penguins would go on to outshoot Syracuse 13-11 in the first, but would only muster nine more shots the rest of the way, six in the second and three in the third.

Second Period: Felt at the time that this was Syracuse’s big push period. Syracuse just likes to play run and gun and if you are a slow team or aren’t ready for that transition out of nowhere style, you’ll get buried quick. DeSmith was dialed in. Example:

Wilkes-Barre would see Sam Miletic leave after a nasty hit along the boards by Dominik Masin. Masin would receive a five minute major for boarding which carries an automatic match penalty.

Here’s the excerpt from the AHL Rulebook on the subject of a major penalty for boarding:

41.4 Match Penalty – The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent by boarding.

41.6 Fines and Suspensions – Refer to Rule 23.6 – Fines and Suspensions – Physical Fouls Category.

When a major penalty is imposed under this rule, an automatic fine of one hundred dollars ($100) shall be imposed.

When a major penalty and a game misconduct is assessed for a foul resulting in an injury to the face or head of an opponent, an automatic fine of two hundred dollars ($200) shall be imposed.

If deemed appropriate, supplementary discipline can be applied by the President at his discretion (refer to Rule 28).

So Masin could be looking at a suspension if warranted. Normally, you’ll only see that if a player is indeed injured. Miletic was held out of the rest of the game because he went face first into the boards and will need to go into the protocol for concussions. The Crunch are back in action Monday in Utica, so Masin could miss that game on a suspension. He may get a game regardless of how bad Miletic is injured anyway.

Third Period: This was all about Stefan Noesen taking penalty after penalty and the Penguins killing said penalty after penalty and DeSmith making save after save.

Noesen ended up with 21 penalty minutes. Ten of those were answering to the hit on Miletic, but you can’t really afford to have the AHL’s leading goal scorer cutting ruts to the penalty box when you are in a close game with an offensively potent team like Syracuse.

Penguins would get breathing room when Zach Trotman blasted one home while the Penguins were shorthanded.

Syracuse, with time running out, pulled Martin for an extra attacker yet were never able to score.

Three Stars: 3) Zach Trotman (goal) 2) Andrew Agozzino (goal, assist) and 1) Casey DeSmith (35 save shutout)

The Good: The penalty kill is really something to behold. The Penguins were better shorthanded tonight than Syracuse on the man advantage if that makes sense. Seems like Syracuse was chasing the game and taking too many chances while the Pens sat back and took what was given.

The Bad: Too many penalties by Stefan Noesen. There’s playing aggressive and playing reckless. Two penalties in the third period while the score was still 1-0 is inexcusable for a veteran player like Noesen. John Hynes would have benched him. Mike Vellucci should have too.

Turning Point: Trotman’s shorthanded goal in the third gave the Penguins a valley of breathing room and proved to be insurmountable for the Crunch to overcome.

Around the Division: Springfield beats Charlotte 4-3 in overtime in an up and down game….Providence runs over Bridgeport 4-1….Lehigh Valley beats Hershey 3-2 in overtime….Belleville takes down Hartford 4-3 in a shootout. The Wolf Pack continue to pile up points like the squirrels in your back yard are storing away nuts for the winter.

Standings: Hartford 22 — Providence and Springfield 18 — Lehigh Valley and the Penguins 16 — Hershey 15 — Charlotte 12 and Bridgeport 9.

Wheeling Update: Nailers lose in Reading 6-4. Jan Drozg had a goal and an assist. He may be headed here if Miletic is too banged up to go, the Pens have a vet problem and can’t just plug in Cramarossa or Haggerty.

Video Highlights: Went up before me. I’m late!

I’ll have a refresh of the charts Sunday afternoon and may, depending on when I get my walk in and if it’s before the MLS Cup final between Toronto and Seattle, open up the Mailbag a day early heading into a busy week. Drop by the blog Sunday anyway.

Let’s Go Pens!

Tic-Tock, Bells Trot — Pens WIN 2-1


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A lesson in patience Friday night in Utica for the WIlkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins.

After a masterful performance in goal by Dustin Tokarski would appear to be for naught, the Penguins pick up two goals in the span of :34 seconds and beat the Utica Comets 2-1.

Tokarski was beat in the first minute of the game by what was essentially an own goal by Macoy Erkamps. The Penguins as a team looked okay from there on out, but could not crack Comets goalie Michael DiPietro at all in the first or second periods.

Finally, Zach Trotman’s power play goal with about six minutes left to play in the third period tied the game for the Penguins and then later Trotman’s shot was deflected by Jordy Bellerive for a goal that gave the Penguins the lead for good.

It was a very solid performance by the team tonight and one that they will be looking to build on. Utica came into tonight second overall in the AHL in offense but was shutout in two games last weekend by Providence and Rochester and only scored two goals in Binghamton on Wednesday. What was the last undefeated team in the AHL has not lost four straight and are reeling.

What I am trying to say is, with all due respect to the opponent, it would have been a shame if the Penguins lost this game.

Here’s how they lined up on both sides tonight:

Zane McIntyre backed up DiPietro for Utica, not Richard Bachman.

Lineup Notes: Niclas Almari picked up what’s being described as a, “middle body injury” so Justin Almeida slotted in up front and but for Almari, went with the same defensive unit they did on Wednesday. Ryan Haggerty stayed in the lineup over other vets Joseph Cramarossa and Andreas Martinsen. Emil Larmi was cleared medically and was a healthy scratch.

First Period: I’ll let my opening tweets speak for themselves here.

It was actually a Macoy Erkamps own goal to my eyes.

Erkamps looks like he wanted to pass it back to Tokarski to cover and, well, that happened.

Wilkes-Barre settled down a bit after that, but it could have been a false front on the basis that they had two power plays but failed to cash. Shots were 12-8 Penguins heading into the…

Second Period: Benign period. Pens opened with a power play, then the teams were four on four for an odd concurrent delay of game penalty then the Penguins had to kill a power play late. Both goalies remained sharp.

Third Period: Tokarski continued to be sharp and dialed in stopping a shot / pass from Tyler Graovac to Brogan Rafferty that was a good play but not enough to add on to the Comets lead. Later, Josh Teves was caught holding with 6:20 left to play in regulation and Zach Trotman connected for this goal that leveled the score line:

Homemade videos tonight. Glad it wasn’t a five goal affair.

:34 later, Trotman stayed on and fired a shot which was deflected for a goal by Jordy Bellerive that put the Penguins out front 2-1.

With the way that Tokarski was dialed in, all the Penguins needed to do was stay the course which they did and they picked up their first regulation win since October 16 at home against Binghamton.

Three Stars: 3) Mitch Eliot (goal) 2) Zach Trotman (goal, assist) and 1) Jordy Bellerive (game winning goal)

The Good: Obviously the power play came through tonight, because that would have been, “the bad” otherwise had the Penguins not won considering they had four opportunities. Honorable mention to Tokarski, who was dialed in and really should have had a shutout but for the Erkamps gaffe.

The Bad: Whenever the opponent scores just one goal its seen as nitpicking, but that Erkamps gaffe in the first could have been a costly error and a one way ticket out of town.

Turning Point: You don’t need me to say it but I will, the power play goal by Trotman finally broke the wall down for the Penguins in a game where they pressed all night and then Bellerive’s goal shocked the Comets right out of the building.

Around the Division: In the game to watch tonight in Hartford, the Wolf Pack defeat the Hershey Bears in regulation 2-1 to stay hot and at the top of the Atlantic….Charlotte did the same to Springfield 2-1. Lehigh Valley, Providence and Bridgeport had the night off.

Standings: Hartford 21 — Providence and Springfield 16 — Lehigh Valley, Hershey and Wilkes-Barre 14 — Charlotte 11 — Bridgeport 9

Wheeling Update: Make it five wins in a row for the Nailers, who pick up a 4-1 win over the Reading Royals. Ryan Scarfo had a pair of goals. Alex D’Orio picked up the win.

Video Highlights: If Utica posts em, I’ll run an edit. If Wilkes-Barre does the same, I’ll still run the edit.

Pens bus home for a home game Saturday night against Syracuse, the Crunch’s first and only visit this season. If you come to the game Saturday and notice something different, it isn’t your eyes…

Can’t wait to see what it looks like in person Saturday. Gameday setup here on the blog at 3 Saturday afternoon.

Let’s Go Pens!

That’s So Criscuolo — Pens LOSE 4-2


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Kyle Criscuolo’s goal in the final knockings in the second and the third (via open net) give the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins a 4-2 loss in Allentown on Wednesday night.

Typical game in this early season. Get a lead, lose it, play from behind in the third, get close and lose. It’s becoming a troubling trend how the Penguins have allowed three or more goals in 11 of their 12 games so far this season. If the strength of the team is on its veteran defensive presence, it sure isn’t showing so far.

Casey DeSmith opposed J-F Berube.


Lineup Notes: With Sam Lafferty recalled to Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Ryan Haggerty took his spot on the second line. Haggerty was the veteran replacement for Joseph Cramarossa. He and  Andreas Martinsen were the healthy scratches along with Justin Almeida. They went with 11F/7D, with Matt Abt getting back into the lineup. I suppose it’s a good way to rotate Abt and Haggerty back into the lineup and I suppose it’s good to get an extra defensemen out there with all the firepower that the Phantoms boast but if you aren’t going to use Justin Almeida, send the kid to Wheeling. It doesn’t do anything for him to constantly sit.

Injuries: Jon Lizotte blocked a shot last week and that’s why he wasn’t in the lineup Saturday or tonight. His status is the benign day to day. Everyone else was status quo. Emil Larmi is on the trip, pending a doctor release.

First Period: Jake Lucchini was flying in the first so of course he would score for the Penguins here in this nice sequence that beat Berube to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.

Lehigh Valley would answer a few minutes later when off of a face-off Andy Welinski would rip and fire a shot from the point that tied the game at one.

Let the bloggers handle the puns, Phantoms social media person.

Game settled into a rock fight after that to close out the period.

Second Period: Pens missed on a goal then finally got one to go. Stefan Noesen flew the slot to open the second on a carryover power play and dished off to Andrew Agozzino who hit a post, but then Adam Johnson and Ryan Haggerty played backhand with the puck when Haggerty cashed to bring the Penguins level at two a piece.

Have to back up to the Phantoms second goal, a Paul Carey undressing of Michael Kim and a snap shot that beat DeSmith that initially gave Lehigh Valley a 2-1 lead.

Kyle Criscuolo found a sliver of daylight and ripped one from mid-slot that hit the post and beat DeSmith that gave the Phantoms a late 3-2 lead.

Less than ideal position for Wilkes-Barre / Scranton who had to play from behind heading into the…

Third Period: Playing behind, the Penguins only mustered six shots on goal, and not necessarily from high danger areas. They had two chances on the power play in the period as well and Lehigh Valley’s bottom third penalty kill easily handled the Penguins sixth ranked power play unit.

Further, Lehigh Valley was down to five defensemen as Samuel Morin went down and didn’t return.

Phantoms would bag an empty netter from about 100 feet away when Criscuolo hit the empty net to ice the game away from the home side.

The Good: Jake Lucchini was arguably the best Penguins player tonight, up on a line with Anthony Angello and Oula Palve.

The Bad: Defense continues to struggle. You’ll see the updated chart next week but David Warsofsky’s got the worst goal differential on the team, -10 at even strength and -5 overall. Not singling Warsofsky out per se, but he’s a defenseman on the team and also serves as the captain.

Turning Point: Criscuolo’s goal with under two minutes to play in the second that gave the Phantoms a slim edge gets the nod here. The Pens simply didn’t or couldn’t do much in the third period despite the luxury of two power plays.

Three Stars: 3) T.J. Brennan (two assists) 2) Greg Carey (goal, assist) 1) Kyle Criscuolo (two goals, assist)

Around the Division: Bridgeport ends Springfield’s winning streak with an impressive 1-0 shutout over the Thunderbirds at home today in a morning kids day game. Bridgeport has won two in a row all of a sudden. Everyone else was off.

Standings: Hartford 19 — Providence and Springfield 16 — Lehigh Valley and Hershey 14 – Penguins 12 — Charlotte and Bridgeport 9.

Wheeling Update: The Nailers also played in a kids day game in Toledo and lost 5-4 in overtime. Jan Drozg had a strong game, with a goal and an assist.

Video Highlights:

If I read the November Penguins practice schedule correctly, then the Penguins are bussing up to Utica tonight for practice Thursday and then their game Friday against the Comets. Smart, when you think of it, get all the travel out of the way today, recover and play Friday then bus down back home for Syracuse Saturday night.

More as it comes, although the Gameday setup against the Comets is probably the next entry, Friday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

Rip It and Tippett — Pens LOSE 4-3 (SO)


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Despite 44 shots on goal and two power play goals as well as goals in the span of :20, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins lose 4-3 in a shootout up in Springfield. The Thunderbirds are on a bit of a roll, this is their fifth straight win.

I feel as though this is a game that, if you run through a simulator, the Penguins win more than 70% of the time. It was a close game, a competitive game, and three out of four points on the road this weekend is not bad.

Phillippe Desrosiers sort of stole the show in net for the Thunderbirds with his performance tonight, but it was Owen Tippet’s goal in the third period that got the game to overtime for Springfield and his goal in the top of the sixth in the shootout that won it.

Lines were…

And for Springfield:





Lineup Notes: Joseph Cramarossa for Andreas Martinsen was the vet-for-vet swap up front. All other pairings were the same from Friday. Jon Lizotte came out of the lineup for Michael Kim. Dustin Tokarski debuted in net.

First Period: Not the best start as the Thunderbirds struck first when a failed breakout bye Joseph Cramarossa was picked off and Daniel Audette scored to make it 1-0 Thunderbirds.


The Penguins would score a 4-on-3 power play goal when Joseph Blandisi tipped in a David Warsofsky shot from the point that tied the game for the Penguins.

Another look…

Shots were 11-11 through the first. A bad start evened up by special teams and two teams stayed step for step with one another.

Second Period: Pretty quiet overall. Pens had a load of shots in the period, but weren’t able to crack Desrosiers despite outshooting the Thunderbirds 14-3.

Wilkes-Barre killed off a long 1:25 of a two-man advantage for Springfield, but got caught late by Aleksi Saarela for a power play goal for Springfield that gave the Thunderbirds a 2-1 lead heading to the room to start the third.

Third Period: Penguins score in a span of :20 when Sam Miletic had a deflection of a shot which Stefan Noesen took credit for and it was a tie game at two again:

Then, just like that, Joseph Blandisi scored his second of the night with this goal that gave the Penguins a 3-2 lead.

Finally, it would appear that the offensive avalanche that the Penguins were putting on Desrosiers and the Thunderbirds was finally leaking through.

You’d be wrong.

Methodically, Springfield kept coming and coming and they finally got even when Aleksi Heponiemi drew Tokarski over before dishing to a streaking Tippett for a goal.

Overtime: Periscoped here.

If you don’t want to sit in for the full fourteen minutes, Jospeh Blandisi had a chance to finish his hat trick but was denied by Desrosiers. The audio cuts out at the end of the overtime.

Shootout: Stefan Noesen scored in the top of the first, and that was it. Blandisi, Cramarossa, Sam Lafferty, Oula Palve and Anthony Angello followed but missed on their chances. Henrik Borgstrom scored in the top of the first, Daniel Audette, Aleksi Saarela, Kevin Roy and Anthony Greco missed on their attempts. Owen Tippett did not on his.

Three Stars: Aleksi Heponiemi (two assists) 2) Owen Tippett (goal in regulation and in shootout) 1) Phillippe Desrosiers (41 saves on 44 shots)

The Good: The two goals :20 apart to give them the lead in the third.

The Bad: They really couldn’t protect the lead despite the large what ended up being a 44-23 shot advantage. It’s developing into a problem.

Turning Point: Owen Tippett’s goal to tie the game would get the Thunderbirds to overtime and secure the point. His goal in the shootout gave team the extra one.

Around the Division: Hartford keeps collecting points, they lose in another shootout this weekend this time in Belleville 5-4….Lehigh Valley beats a hapless Sound Tigers team 4-3….Hershey gets two late goals in the third to down Providence 5-3….Charlotte was off.

Standings: Hartford 19 — Springfield and Providence 16 — Lehigh Valley, Hershey and the Penguins 12 — Charlotte 9 — Bridgeport 5

Wheeling Update: Nailers get pushed around in Kalamazoo, losing 7-2. Renars Krastenbergs and Marc-Olivier Duquette scored in the losing effort for the Nailers.

Video Highlights: Springfield usually has em and when they cut them up and I see them and can work an edit in, it’ll go here.

But for anything breaking between now and Wednesday, talk to you then. The Mailbag returns next Monday, later than usual, so start thinking about those questions.

Let’s Go Pens!

Shooting at Ghosts — Pens WIN 4-3 (SO)


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Man, the Phantoms never give up.

After going down 3-0 and looking slow and lethargic at times, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms battle back at home to force overtime but ultimately fall in a shootout. Penguins win via shootout 4-3 on Friday night.

The game can best be defined in number of chapters.

1) The Penguins raced out to a 3-0 lead early in the second period after a dynamite first period.
2) Then, the Phantoms started to block shots and got one back at the conclusion of the second.
3) They scored a power play goal early on in the third, then with starting goalie Alex Lyon pulled for an extra attacker, tied the game at 3.

Wilkes-Barre / Scranton could have packed it in, buried under the avalanche of pressure that the Phantoms hit them with. The intensity was ramped upon even more when, in overtime…

4) The Penguins would kill off a penalty.

Stefan Noesen and Joseph Blandisi score in the shootout rounds and Lehigh Valley, with all that offense, lose their third shootout of the still very young season.

Casey DeSmith opposed the aforementioned Alex Lyon.

Lines were…

Lineup Notes: A ton. Sam Lafferty, Joseph Blandisi and Adam Johnson all returned from Pittsburgh this week. As a result of these lineup changes, Brandon Hawkins was sent back to Wheeling and Reid McNeill was released from his PTO. So for the lineup, we had Joseph Cramarossa and Ryan Haggerty come out of the lineup as victims of the veteran rule. Andreas Martinsen made his Penguins debut. On the back end, Zach Trotman debuted and Kevin Czuczman returned from injury replacing the departed Reid McNeill and Michael Kim, who was a regular scratch.

Oh, and Dustin Tokarski backed up Casey DeSmith.

The strongest the lineup has been all season and a sign that the organization from Pittsburgh to here is healthy.

Kind of. Nick Hart announced on the pregame that Kasper Bjorkqvist had knee surgery this week and is out for at least six months, effectively ending his season. If the Pens go deep in playoffs you may see him again, but it’s an unfortunate end to a promising rookie year for Bjorkqvist that sadly, never got off the ground.

First Period: Penguins survived an early rush by the Phantoms to open the scoring but DeSmith was up to task, making an odd save with his back. Adam Johnson was inadvertently cut after he tripped Nicolas Aube-Kubel and went off to the room for repairs, missing about seven minutes of action. When he returned, he put a shot on net that caromed around and found its way to Sam Lafferty who scored to give the Pens an early 1-0 lead.

That was a power play goal.

Late, Stefan Noesen scored his 10th goal of the season, tying him for the AHL lead when Jon Lizotte blacked a shot. Noesen was off to the races and scored this nice goal on the breakaway.

Period ended 2-0 in favor of the Penguins, the first time all season they blanked the opponent in the first period.

Second Period: Anthony Angello scored this goal which hit a post and trickled across for a 3-0 Wilkes-Barre lead.

(they later changed that secondary assist to Jon Lizotte, Martinsen has to wait for his first WBS assist)

Then the shots were all blocked or hard to come by, kind of like the last time that the Penguins were in this building but with the roles reversed.

David Kase scored to end the DeSmith shutout bid when an Andy Welinski shot from the point caromed off of bodies and to Kase for the goal.

Shots were a scant 4-4 in the second period.

Third Period: Lehigh Valley would cash on a power play when Andy Andreoff would be left unmarked in the slot to put home a power play goal and suddenly the Penguins were nursing a one goal lead.

Wilkes-Barre / Scranton  would have two back to back power plays but never were able to score and play continued.

Casey DeSmith had a ton of top saves to keep the Penguins ahead by one.

But, with Lyon vacated for the extra man, Lehigh Valley would find the equalizer when T.J. Brennan would shoot from the point and Greg Carey would deflect the shot in for a tie game.

It was off to…

Overtime: Periscoped, as all road contests are, here:

If you don’t want to sit through it all, you’ll see that the Penguins found themselves on a penalty kill when Zach Trotman placed a Phantom on his wallet when for taking too many liberties with Casey DeSmith. Wilkes-Barre came away unscathed.

No scoring in overtime, so it was off to a shootout where Stefan Noesen and Joseph Blandisi scored. Morgan Frost scored in the top of the first, but then DeSmith stopped Mikhail Vorobyev and Maxim Sushko right after.

Three Stars: 3) David Kase (goal) 2) Greg Carey (goal, assist) 1) Joseph Blandisi (shootout winning goal)

The Good: The start was fine, but the team needs to learn how to string a full sixty together in 10 minute or less increments. The penalty kill in overtime also gets a mention here. Tenacity was shown by Wilkes-Barre for not packing it in and losing on a power platy goal in overtime.

The Bad: The Phantoms ate the elephant one bite at a time and didn’t erase a 3-0 deficit all at once, they took what Wilkes-Barre gave them and slowly got back into the swing and ultimately got a point.

Turning Point: Those two power play chances right after the Andreoff goal were golden opportunities missed for the Pens and the Phantoms ultimately stole a point they had no business anywhere near. Wilkes-Barre was really lucky to get out of Allentown with a full two points.

Around the Division: Cleveland beats Charlotte 2-1 in overtime….Syracuse rolls Bridgeport 5-1….Providence beats the last undefeated team in the AHL in Utica 2-0. Manny Lagace has an AHL leading three shutouts for the Bruins….Springfield blitzkriegs Hershey 8-1….Hartford lost in a shootout up in Laval 2-1.

Standings: Hartford 18 — Providence 16 — Springfield 14 — Penguins 11 — Lehigh Valley and Hershey 10 — Charlotte 9 — Bridgeport 5

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off.

Video Highlights: 

Gameday setup for Saturday’s contest in Springfield hits the blog Saturday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!