Playoff Update: Pens sweep Sens in 3

Round 1 of the AHL playoffs began last weekend, and the 5-seed Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins squared off with Divisional rival 4th-seed Binghamton Senators.

Game 1 on Saturday April 27th in Binghamton, the Pens dominated the 1st period outshooting their opponent 11-3, going up by 2 before giving up a PP goal in the final minute of the period. They kept the lead for most of the 2nd, but the Sens dominated the play with outshooting the Pens 14-8 and managed to tie it up with 3 minutes remaining. Then after an uneventful 3rd period,again dominated by the Sens outshooting us 10-5, we were tied and headed to OT, where we managed to score and walk away with the W 3-2.

Game 2 on Sunday April 28th in Binghamton, the game went back and forth the entire 1st period, the Pens outshooting the Sens 13-12 and each team racking up a goal. The 2nd period was again dominated by the Sens, outshooting the Pens 11-6, but despite only registering 6 shots the Pens pulled off an amazing mid-period goal to take the lead and then extended it with just seconds remaining. The Sens then managed to dominate the 3rd period again, outshooting the Pens 14-5 and notching a PP goal with just 20 seconds left in the game, finishing 3-2 for another Pens W.

Game 3 tonight Thursday May 2 in Wilkes-Barre, this time the Sens started out strong, outshooting the Pens 9-4 and taking an early lead off a defensive zone turnover. The 2nd period was all Pens, outshooting the Sens 14-7, but still trailing by 1. They carried over their dominance into the 3rd, outshooting the Sens 10-5 and tying the game mid-way into the period, then taking the lead late in the 3rd and sealing it with an empty netter with 30 seconds remaining. However, the Sens notched 1 final goal with just seconds remaining. The Pens walked away with another W 3-2, taking the series in a 3-game sweep.

Overall in 3 games the Pens had 85 shots to the Sens 94. The refs were throwing their weight around the whole series, resulting in 15 minor penalties on the Pens and the Sens with 17 minor penalties, 1 double minor, and 1 10-minute misconduct. This resulted in the Pens going 3 for 16 on the PP and 10 for 12 on the PK, in addition to a shorthanded goal in game 3.

The starting goaltender for Games 1 and 2 was Jeff Zatkoff, who gave up 4 goals in 73 shots resulting in a 1.87 GAA and .945 Save %. For Game 3, Zatkoff was out with some sort of injury/illness so Brad Thiessen started in net, with Scott Darling waiting in the wings as backup. Thiessen let in 2 goals on 21 shots resulting in a 2.00 GAA and .905 Save %. Though in defense of Thiessen, the first goal was off a defensive zone turnover, and the final goal was a Power Play goal scored with just 2 seconds remaining in the game. Both goaltenders made some excellent saves and lost a few unfortunate goals. Though that is not surprising considering they won the Harry "Hap" Holmes Memorial Award for team goaltenders with the lowest regular season GAA in the AHL.

The Pens 1st line of Riley Holzapfel, Trevor Smith, and Chad Kolarik led the team in scoring, which should come as no surprise. Holzapfel and Kolarik each had 2 Goals and 1 Assist with a +2 Rating, while Smith had 3 Assists and a +1 rating. Most impressively, Holzapfel's 2 goals were both scored on the PP and off of a total of only 4 shots.

The Pens also have excellent scoring depth, as both Jayson Megna and Zach Sill from the 4th line had 1 Goals and 2 Assists with a +3 Rating. Sill's goal was the shorthanded goal in game 3. The 2nd line was usually Brian Gibbons, who had 1 Goal (PP) and 1 Assist, as well as Chris Collins with 1 Goal and Paul Thompson with 1 Assist, all of which had a -1 Rating. Although Collins sat out 1 game.

The remaining forwards, Warren Peters with 1 Goal and a +1 rating centering the 3rd with Derek Nesbitt 1 Assist and Adam Payerl with a -1 Rating. The game that Collins was scratched, Nesbitt joined the 2nd line with Gibbons and Thompson. The 4th line was usually completed with Bobby Farnham, who had a -2 Rating, or Dominik Uher who had a -1 Rating.

The top defensive pair consisted of Brian Dumoulin with 2 Assists and a +3 Rating, and Dylan Reese with 1 Assist and a +4 Rating. Next was the Captain Joey Mormina who had 1 Assist and Philip Samuelsson who had 1 Assist and a -1 Rating. The 3rd Pair was Alex Grant and Reid McNeill, who each had a -1 rating.

Round 2 starts some time after the remaining teams finish off their games... so far it looks like the most likely opponent is going to be the Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay Lightning), who just swept their 1st round as well. If that is who they face, it could mean some serious problems for the Pens. The Crunch were 1st place in our Division, and with Tampa Bay out of the NHL playoffs it means a few NHL calibre players returned to the team for the AHL playoffs. Before the lockout ended, Syracuse was #1 in the East. They struggled a bit after losing some of their big names to the NHL, but now that a number of them are back for the playoffs they could be quite difficult to beat.

The content expressed in fanposts does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the staff here at FanPosts are opinions expressed by fans of various teams throughout the league but may be more Pittsburgh-centric for obvious reasons.

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