Saturday's Morning Skate 12/5

Saturday, December 5, 2015
Davis Drewiske heads for a loose puck in the corner with Joseph LaBate chasing behind him. Photo: Nina Weiss
As teams enter the second quarter of the season, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Toronto Marlies and Albany Devils have separated themselves from the rest of the Eastern Conference as the cream of the crop.

All three teams play uniquely different styles and all have enjoyed great success in the early going.

The Marlies' offensive firepower is a force to be reckoned with. Their 84 goals in 22 games this season is second only to the Texas Stars in the entire AHL, and their 3.81 goals per game average is tops in the Eastern Conference. William Nylander leads the league in scoring with 26 points (12 goals, 14 assists) in 20 games. Their forward core also consisting of Brendan Leipsic, Richard Panik, Scott Leivo and Mark Arcobello is a match up problem for any defense they face at the AHL level.

The Devils' conservative and tight defensive approach has yielded them the third highest winning percentage in the Eastern Conference, allowing only 40 goals against through 20 games. They still have some young guns that provide an offensive spark in rookies Matt Lorito and Joseph Blandisi in addition to Mike Sislo and Reid Boucher, but they're carried largely by their defensive structure and trapping style of play.

The Penguins, meanwhile, resemble a solid mix of high-powered offense and strong defensive play through their first 19 games of the season with a league's best 16-3-0 record. The motto for the Pens has been their strength is in their numbers - they have an incredibly deep roster with a plethora of solid prospects across the board with promising rookies like forwards Dominik Simon and Oskar Sundqvist. Defenseman Derrick Pouliot and goaltenders Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry give fans exciting players to watch in all positions and they've hand different players step up for them each and every night.

Would you like to see the coverage of the team while they're on the road continue? Please lend a helping hand to keep me providing live coverage of the team while they're on the road this season by making a secure donation to my GoFundMe page.

Atlantic Division Standings (through 12/4's games)

1. W-B/Scranton: 19 games played, 16-3-0-0 = 32 points (.842 PCT)
2. Bridgeport: 23 games played, 14-8-1-0 = 29 points (.630 PCT)
3. Hershey: 21 games played, 10-6-0-5 = 25 points (.595 PCT)
4. Springfield: 20 games played, 10-9-1-0 = 21 points (.525 PCT)
5. Lehigh Valley: 23 games played, 11-11-1-0 = 23 points (.500 PCT)
6. Hartford: 20 games played, 9-11-2-0 = 20 points (.455 PCT)
7. Portland: 19 games played, 8-10-0-0 = 17 points (.447 PCT)
8. Providence: 21 games played, 6-10-4-1 = 17 points (.405 PCT)

Around The Atlantic

Lehigh Valley - 3 at W-B/Scranton - 1

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (11-11-1) came into Mohegan Sun Arena and handed the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (16-3-0) their first home loss on the season, getting a strong effort from the penalty kill (6-for-6) and some timely scoring.

After falling behind 1-0 just 2:58 into play on a miscue behind their own net, the Phantoms took advantage of a stretch pass on their first power play of the game (Aaron Palushaj) and a defenseman joining the rush shortly after a 4-on-4 had ended (Mark Alt) to score back-to-back goals in the second period and take a lead into the third period.

The Penguins threw everything they had at Stolarz, who turned in another spectacular performance in net with 35 saves on 36 shots to improve to 9-4-1 on the season. Lehigh Valley finishes their three-game road trip tonight in Hershey, while the Penguins host the Hartford WolfPack.

Bridgeport - 0 at Springfield - 4

The Sound Tigers' lost their third game in their last four games following a shutout loss to the Falcons in Springfield Friday night - their second straight shutout loss to Springfield on the season.

Louis Domingue recorded his first shutout of the season with a 33-save effort for the Falcons in the win, who were led offensively by Philip Samuelsson (two goals), Greg Carey (one goal, two assists) and Laurent Dauphin (one goal, one assist).

Bridgeport returns home to host Portland tonight, while Springfield hits the road for a Saturday night match up with Providence.

Hershey - 3 at Hartford - 4 (SO)

In a back-and-forth game at the XL Center, the Hershey Bears forced overtime with 43 seconds left but lost their league's most fifth shootout against the WolfPack.

Chandler Stephenson (one goal, one assist) made his first goal of the season count, tallying a power play goal in the final minute of regulation to get the Bears to overtime. Connor Carrick had a game-high three points (one goal, two assists) and Justin Peters stopped 22 of 25 shots he faced in the loss, including an 0-for-2 showing in the shootout.

Chad Nehring (one goal, one assist), Brady Skjei (one goal) and Nick Tarnasky (one goal) led the WolfPack offensively while Mackenzie Skapski earned with win with 33 saves on 36 shots.

Jayson Megna had a chance to win it in OT with 2:12 left in the extra session, but his penalty shot was stopped by Peters. Luckily for Megna, Brian Gibbons and Adam Tambellini both scored in the shootout to get Hartford the extra point in the standings. Hershey heads home for a rivalry match up against Lehigh Valley, while Hartford heads to Wilkes-Barre for another meeting with the Penguins.

Portland - 2 at Providence - 3 (OT)

Seth Griffith is getting back into the groove of things following his return from a concussion, tallying the game-winning goal 1:35 into overtime to lift the home team to a big win. Alexander Khokhlachev tallied an assist in his first game back for Providence after surgery to repair a broken finger kept him out a month.

Malcolm Subban stopped 31 of 33 shots for his second straight win in net for the Bruins in the win, while Mike McKenna was charged the loss surrendering three goals on 31 shots. Rob Schremp led the Pirates' offensive attack with a goal and an assist. The former Penguins forward has 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in 19 games this season.

Portland heads to Bridgeport, while Providence remains home to host Springfield.

Friday's Eastern Conference Scores

Binghamton - 1 at Syracuse - 5
St. John's - 2 at Utica - 1 (OT)
Toronto - 4 at Rochester - 0

Saturday's Eastern Conference Schedule

Rochester at Albany, 5:00 p.m. ET
Manitoba at Toronto, 5:00 p.m. ET
Portland at Bridgeport, 7:00 p.m. ET
Lehigh Valley at Hershey, 7:00 p.m. ET
Utica at Syracuse, 7:00 p.m. ET
St. John's at Binghamton, 7:05 p.m. ET
Springfield at Providence, 7:05 p.m. ET
Hartford at W-B/Scranton, 7:05 p.m. ET


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