Saturday, December 18, 2010

AHL Game 31: Syracuse 3, WBS 1

"Power-less" PlayEven most casual hockey fans can recognize that special teams win games, but what is often forgotten is how it can also lose them. The Pens squandered 6 powerplay chances including one at the end of the game and lost 3-1 at the hands of the Syracuse Crunch.

Things seemed to be going as well as usual when Ryan Craig jammed a shot past JP Levasseur during a scrum in front of the net just 5 minutes into the game, but the Pens could not extend their lead when they had the chance. They failed on back to back powerplay chances later in the period, and were forced to settle for a 1-0 intermission lead.

The second brought an absolute onslaught of shots by WBS (22) but no dice. Syracuse, on the other hand, had little over half that number (12) but converted on one when Dan Sexton beat Curry (who finished with 29 saves) to tie the game at 1. And again...2 powerplays for WBS, no goals.

After yet another failed PP by the Pens, the Crunch got the go-ahead goal off the stick of Trevor Smith. But Smith wasn't done, because he scored again less than 2 minutes later to put his Crunch up 3-1 with just 8 minutes remaining. WBS tried to catch up, and had another powerplay opportunity with less than 4 minutes remaining, but they just could not find the net and the game ended at 3-1.

It's easy to blame the Pens powerplay struggles for the loss, but it would be an injustice not to give Levasseur some credit as well. He withstood an absolute barrage in the 2nd with little help from the defense in front of him and then finished the game in the 3rd. He seems to like playing against WBS, as it was also him that dealt the Penguins their first loss of the season.

But I'd still say that a 23-7 record and 1st place overall is a fine Christmas present the Pens have given themselves. Next game is Dec 26 vs Albany.

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