Penguins Strike First To Take Game One

Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Playoff hockey at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre
If tonight's game - a 3-2 overtime win for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins - is any indication, this is shaping up to be a hard-fought Atlantic Division Semifinals series.

The Penguins, heading into the series as the underdogs, took advantage of home ice tonight - jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the opening 20:18 of play on goals from rookie Jake Guentzel and veteran Dustin Jeffrey that proved to be very important.

The Providence Bruins battled their way back in the final 40 minutes of regulation, cutting the deficit in half late in the second period when leading scorer Seth Griffith finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play and tying things up in the middle part of the third period on a shorthanded tally by Colby Cave.

In the end, the Penguins' fore-checking pressure was too much for the PBruins to handle as Carter Rowney tallied the game-winning goal just 1:09 into the extra session to give the Pens a one games to none lead in the best-of-five series.

Thoughts from Providence Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy and former Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins forward Max Talbot after the jump.


Head coach Bruce Cassidy:

First 20:18 vs. final 39:42 - We had to get going. Our guys tend to respond well (to adversity) we've done that a lot more the second half of the year when we get down we dig in and got it to overtime but at the end of the day we didn't do enough good things to win.

What the difference was tonight - In front of both nets, they were better than us. We didn't manage the puck very well, basically gave them two gifts in front of our net. You can't do that. In front of their net, I thought there were some rebounds and we didn't play a heavy enough game in that area to get our share of net-front goals.

The experience factor, young team - I don't know, I thought some of our younger guys were our better players. It was our older guys that I thought need to be better if we're going to advance. We have a veteran D-core. To make mistakes with the puck behind the goal line on a number of occasions. I thought our older guys looked more jittery than our younger guys to be perfectly honest with you.

Forward Max Talbot:

On the slow start - Sometimes it's just jitters. You have to give them credit, they came out and played hard. For us, it took a little bit of time to find our momentum and when we did we played better but not good enough.

On the message between periods - There's always adjustments, things you can say between periods to get the guys going - that's locker room stuff. You have to find ways to win games and we didn't tonight. Right now, it's a quick turn around so just have to focus on tomorrow.

Final impressions - We know it's going to be a battle, could be a long series so for me it's fun to be here and have a chance to compete in that situation.


Providence had the opening jump, pinning the Pens in their defensive zone in the opening minutes before the two teams settled in and the feeling out process that typically occurs in the first game of a playoff series began.

It wasn't until there was 6:47 left in the first period that the game's opening goal was scored, and fortunately for the Penguins it was the home team striking first. Carter Rowneyw on an offensive zone face-off back to Will O'Neill, and O'Neill's point shot was expertly tipped past Jeremy Smith by rookie Jake Guentzel. Guentzel's tip-in from the high slot gave the Pens a 1-0 lead on what was Guentzel's 1st career AHL Playoff goal in his Calder Cup Playoffs debut.

Most were surprised when Pens' head coach Clark Donatelli stuck with Casey DeSmith as his Game One starter after Tristan Jarry was reassigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton from Pittsburgh today, and arguably so. But DeSmith played a strong first period - stopping all 12 shots he faced including a big pad save on Frank Vatrano midway through the period.

The Penguins took the 1-0 lead into the second period and quickly added to it, extending their lead to 2-0 just 18 seconds into the middle frame. Off the opening face-off of the period, the Pens got the puck in deep and went to work on the fore-check with Kael Mouillierat creating a turnover and Dustin Jeffrey retrieving it at the side of the net before working his way into the crease to stuff one in past Smith for his first goal of the playoffs.

Providence didn't go into panic mode despite being down 2-0 early in the 2nd period, instead getting to their game and out-shooting the Pens 15-5 the rest of the middle frame and cutting the deficit in half 5:10 before the second intermission.

Seth Griffith finished off a series of tic-tac-toe passes between Brian Ferlin and Max Talbot to get the PBruins on the board, and it gave them momentum the rest of the period. If not for some quality stops by DeSmith, the two teams might have entered the third period even at 2 apiece.

The PBruins came out for the third and fired the first five shots on net, really turning up the pressure looking for the game tying-goal. Oddly enough, Providence evened the game at 2-2 after Griffith was whistled for a slashing minor.

Noel Acciari pushed the puck ahead to Colby Cave, who with speed flew down the right-wing and fired a long-range shot that eluded DeSmith with 11:16 left in regulation. Both teams had their chances to end it in regulation, but to no avail as the team's entered the locker rooms tied at 2-2 after 60 minutes.

The overtime ended quickly on a play similar to the goal the Penguins scored to start the second period. The Pens' top line of Guentzel, Rowney and Kostopoulos got to work on a fore-check and capitalized off some ill-advised puck handling by the Bruins defense behind their net. Guentzel fed Rowney in front for a shot that was stopped by Smith before Kostopoulos re-gained control behind the net and gave Rowney a second chance in the slot that Rowney finished off to complete the Game One win.


Casey DeSmith (31 saves - 33 shots) got the start in net for the Penguins in Game One. Tristan Jarry was reassigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton from Pittsburgh, but head coach Clark Donatelli opted to roll with DeSmith tonight in Game One.

Shavertown, Pa native Patrick McGrath took the pre-game warm up skate for the Penguins, but the forward was a healthy scratch as the 13th forward.

Daniel Sprong arrived to town yesterday afternoon and after taking the morning skate with the team prior to tonight's Game One, he made his AHL debut on the fourth line.

Scratches: Sean Maguire (healthy), Harrison Ruopp (healthy), Reid McNeill (injured), Ethan Prow (healthy), Jarrett Burton (healthy), Patrick McGrath (healthy), Adam Krause (healthy), Tyler Biggs (healthy), Sahir Gill (injured) and Dominik Uher (injured)

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)

Kael Mouillierat - Dustin Jeffrey - Dominik Simon
Jake Guentzel - Carter Rowney - Tom Kostopoulos (C)
Matthias Plachta - Jean Sebastien Dea - Josh Archibald
Tom Sestito - Teddy Blueger - Daniel Sprong

Nicklas Andersen - Steve Oleksy
Ryan Parent - Barry Goers
Tim Erixon - Will O'Neill

Casey DeSmith - Tristan Jarry


Jeremy Smith (22 saves - 25 shots) got the start in net for the PBruins in Game One.

Providence went with 11 forwards and seven defenseman tonight, with forward Justin Hickman being the odd man out of those who took the ice for warm ups.

Boston Bruins 1st round pick Zachary Senyshyn did not make the trip to Wilkes-Barre and is not expected in the lineup for Thursday night's Game 2 either.

Scratches: Malcolm Subban, Justin Hickman, Ben Sexton, Rob O'Gara, Mark Naclerio, Anton Blidh, Linus Arnesson, Frankie Simonelli, Brandon Carlo, Joonas Kemppainen, Zac Rinaldo and Andrew Cherniwchan

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)

Brandon DeFazio - Austin Czarnik - Alexander Khokhlachev
Frank Vatrano - Noel Acciari - Seth Griffith (A)
Danton Heinen - Max Talbot - Brian Ferlin
Colby Cave - Colton Hargrove

Tommy Cross - Colin Miller
Chris Breen - Chris Casto
Matt Irwin - Ben Youds/Brett Bellemore

Jeremy Smith - Zane McIntyre


1st Period

13:13: WBS - Guentzel (1) - O'Neill, Rowney

2nd Period

0:18: WBS - Jeffrey (1) - Mouillierat
8:24: WBS - (PP) Dea, minor (interference)
8:41: PRO - (PP) Vatrano, minor (interference)
14:50: PRO - Griffith (1) - Talbot, Ferlin
15:40: PRO - (PP) Acciari, minor (delay of game)
15:52: WBS - (PP) Simon, minor (high-sticking)

3rd Period

7:32: PRO - (PP) Griffith, minor (slashing)
8:44: PRO - SHG Cave (1) - Acciari


1:09: WBS - Rowney (1) - Kostopoulos, Guentzel


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