It was the same script Wednesday night at Mohegan Sun Arena.
The Penguins came out sluggish, fell behind, but dominated later in the game to finish off a 4-2 victory over Lehigh Valley and up its record to 12-2-0-1.
There were a few standouts tonight. I thought Jarrett Burton had a really good game shot-blocking, and Adam Johnson was generating plenty of activity around the net. Casey DeSmith was Casey DeSmith — he still doesn’t have a regulation loss — and made a few big saves early to keep the Pens in it.
But this Ryan Haggerty/Zach Aston-Reese/J.S. Dea line is something special. It amazes me how it seems Haggerty has an extra gear compared to anyone tasked with guarding him. He set up Dea in the second period with a combination of hustle, strength and precision and he also showed his willingness to go the full 60 with his empty-netter. If I were Pittsburgh and looking for a winger, I’d give him serious consideration for a call-up.
Luckily, he wasn’t injured when Tux whacked him in the upper body with the victory flag during the Three Stars announcement.
We’re not even a fifth of the way through the season, but the Penguins already have a stranglehold on first place in the Atlantic. With a 2-1 OT win in Binghamton on Wednesday, Providence actually moved into second place at 20 points. However, the Penguins have one game in hand and could up their lead to seven points with a victory to balance things out.
Looking at the weekend, Tom Sestito, Garrett Wilson and Tom Kostopoulos are all out, according to HCCD. Thomas Di Pauli could be back after being an injury scratch Wednesday. Ethan Prow made the injury report as well and his status for the weekend is uncertain. I’d assume he won’t play with Frank Corrado back and Kevin Spinozzi also available.
Donatelli left open the possibility of DeSmith starting both games, but we’ll see how it plays out.
In other action, Charlotte and Hershey were also losers on Wednesday. And don’t look now, but Springfield has managed to put together six wins in 10 games after its abysmal start.
The scouting report for Syracuse will be in Friday’s paper. Otherwise, enjoy your Thanksgiving. It’s OK to put hockey on the back burner for a good 24 hours and appreciate time spent with family, not to mention the delicious food. I think there’s a drumstick with my name on it.