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Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

AHL Game Recap/Analysis

Penguins Rally For Shootout Win Over Phantoms

Penguins Rally For Shootout Win Over Phantoms

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – A Black Friday showdown between the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at Mohegan Sun Arena featured two Atlantic Division teams desperately in need of points. On the same day that their NHL affiliates duked it out in a rare organizational battle, the Penguins overcame the odds to erase a 2-0 Phantoms lead in the third period. Alex Nylander had the lone goal in the shootout to give Wilkes-Barre a 3-2 win. Dustin Tokarski made 32 saves, while Pat Nagle suffered the loss with 33 saves as both goaltenders were tremendous in this game.

It was an exceptional outing for the Phantoms despite the final score of this game. Lehigh Valley opened the scoring with Tyson Foerster’s fourth goal of the season on a nifty deflection from Louie Belpedio’s floater from the blue line. Foerster deflected the puck past Tokarski from the bottom of the right circle on one of Lehigh Valley’s five credited shots on goal in the opening stanza and curiously could not find the twine in the second period despite putting 15 shots on Tokarski as a testament to quality over quantity. Nagle was exceptional, with 18 stops through 40 minutes of action.

In such a low-scoring game, it seemed like Lehigh Valley had the game in hand after Cam York sent the puck around the boards to Elliot Desnoyers behind the Wilkes-Barre net. His wraparound chance banked in off the pads of Tokarski to open a 2-0 lead. It’s the sixth goal of the season for Desnoyers, as the rookie has three goals in his last five games. The Penguins would respond just under three minutes later and break through Nagle with Valtteri Puustinen’s fifth goal of the season as he’d slip the puck under the goaltender’s pads through some traffic to cut the lead down to just one. The Penguins tied the game with about two minutes to play when Filip Hallander teamed up with Drake Caggiula to tally shorthanded. Caggiula’s pressure led to the puck on Hallander’s stick, who quickly fed it back for the goal.

The game went to overtime for the second time in three matchups between these two rivals, a much closer finish than their NHL counterparts. In the end, Nylander had the only answer to the goaltenders in three shots each as he made a slick move to beat Nagle. Tokarski, who has been one of the league’s best between the pipes this season, stopped all three Lehigh Valley shooters, including Alex Kile. It’s a valuable extra point for the Penguins to stay close to the Charlotte Checkers, who they recently split a pair of games with earlier in the week. This extra point keeps the Penguins in the conversation for top-four placement in the division.

It’ll be a little while until these two teams square off again- a New Year’s Eve showdown at PPL Center to help ring in 2023 with what is sure to be another dramatic game between two rivals. Meanwhile, the Phantoms return home to host the Rochester Americans on Saturday night after the Amerks outlasted the Bridgeport Islanders by a 6-5 count in overtime. The Penguins will pay a visit to the Springfield Thunderbirds on Saturday evening.

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