Starting Goalies -
WBS: #1 Casey DeSmith 0-0-0 (1st appearance)
SYR: #32 Adam Wilcox 1-1-0 ; 2.44 GAA ; .875 Save Pct,
WBS: #9 Jean-Sebastien Dea; #19 Garrett Wilson; #15 Josh Archibald; #3 Reid McNeill; #2 Chad Ruhwedel
SYR: #11 Eric Condra; #40 Gabriel Dumont; #78 Michael Bournival; #82 Luke Witkowski; #85 Daniel Walcott
Tonight's first period was nearly identical to last night's for the Penguins, the only exception being the early goal they allowed last night. They struggled to find any kind of rhythm for the majority of the frame, passes were just a bit off the mark, changes a little slow. Syracuse wasn't able to generate much in the way of offense either and both teams failed to capitalize with the extra man. Reid McNeill fought former Penguin Pierre-Luc Letourneau Leblond in a matchup of Heavyweights. It was a good fight but I'll score it 10-9 McNeill. The crowd came to life a bit after the fight, and the Pens used it to create some late scoring chances, though they couldn't find twine. The Penguins' goal scoring drought reached 4 periods and counting. The stanza ended with shots dead even at 10 apiece.
WBS PP: 0/2 ; PK: 1/1
The Penguins would get back-to-back Power Plays to open the 2nd period. On the first, the top unit controlled the zone for the entire 2 minutes and eventually Rowney would end up robbed by Wilcox's glove as it expired. The second of those Power plays didn't go as well, the Pens were unable to control the puck and Syracuse generated at least one strong chance shorthanded. Believe it or not things started looking up as the Penguins went down a man. Playing Shorthanded, Josh Archibald made a fine play to chip a puck to Kevin Porter who took off all alone and absolutely sniped a goal past Wilcox to end the Penguins' scoring drought around the 98 minute mark. Just 2 minutes later Porter again scored shorthanded, this time after a great individual effort to steal a puck, and again he roofed one behind Wilcox. Syracuse would answer quickly as Cory Conacher scored his second goal of the season on that same Power Play and that was the way the period would end. WBS out-shot the Crunch 13-5 during the frame.
WBS PP: 0/4 ; PK: 2/3
Scoring: 8:11 - WBS - Porter (1) (SH) from Archibald; 10:30- WBS - Porter (2) (SH) Unassisted; 10:51 - SYR - Conacher (2) from Thomas, Erne
The Pens would get a few more Power Play chances during the first 10 minutes of the period, and despite multiple Grade A chances weren't able to cash in. The talented defense corps of the Penguins really shined through, they kept the majority of Syracuse's offensive shots to the outside and anytime the Crunch did get in tight, a defenseman was there time and again to knock it away. Specifically Steve Oleksy made a diving play to break up a 2-on-1 chance in tight that more than likely would have been a tap-in goal to tie things up. Kevin Porter literally dominated this entire game, the 3rd period was no different. With just under 5 minutes to go, he skated into the offensive zone with speed and dropped the puck to 2nd year sniper Dominik Simon, who did what he does. The wicked snap shot was the insurance goal the Pens were chasing and that was all she wrote. Casey DeSmith stood tall with the extra attacker on the ice and that's how it would end.
WBS PP: 0/3 ; PK: 1/1
Scoring: 15:45 - WBS - Simon (1) from Porter, Gardiner
*** - Dominik Simon (1G)
** - Casey DeSmith (26/27 Saves)
* - Kevin Porter (2SHG, 1A)
Post Game Notes & Quotes:
- Kevin Porter became the first WBS Penguins to record two SH goals in the same game since Jonathan Filewich on December 23, 2006. For the second night in a row Porter was the best player on the ice. Take away his 2 shorty's and he still dominated this game. Clark Donatelli told Tom Venesky he was happy to see his veteran leader rewarded. "He does so many little things, he is a great guy in the room. It's always nice to see a player like him(Porter) get rewarded."
- Dominik Simon had a pretty quiet weekend up until he found a little daylight in the slot late in the game. Seth Lakso asked Donatelli how big the insurance goal was; "It was huge for the team, and it's huge for Dom. That's what Dom does, if you give him two or three chances, he's going to capitalize."
- The top line of Rowney, Guentzel, and Kostopoulos were all over the ice again tonight and created at least a handful of quality chances. I asked Donatelli what makes those 3 guys so compatible. Here's his thoughts: "I think you get a little of everything. They work hard, and TK's got the leadership, he's played a lot of games, right? You've got Jake the rookie and then Rowney's a workhorse. He's good offensively and defensively. They know where each other are going to be, and a lot of people don't realize how good they are defensively. They play such good defense as a unit that it creates a lot of offense for them."
- Both young goalies for WBS have looked very impressive to start the season. It will be interesting to see how the playing time will be split between them. One thing is clear; this organization is very very high on Casey DeSmith as well as Tristan Jarry.
- Ryan Haggerty is yet to score a goal in a Penguins jersey, but he has done everything he can possibly do besides that. He is all over the ice, drawing penalties, creating chances. It is only a matter of time before he buries one.
Full Audio of Donatelli's Presser will be available here in a bit. Check back either later on or in the morning to hear his thoughts on tonight's game.
Thanks for reading and interacting during the game! Check out @PensInitiative all season long as I cover the WBS Beat.