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Post-Game Thoughts: Rochester 4, WBS 3 (SO)

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins battled hard, but fell just short in their first home preseason game as they lost in a shootout to the Rochester Americans, 4-3, on Friday night at Mohegan Sun Arena (click here for the full game recap).

Tonight marked just the second game of the Penguins’ preseason, as the two teams also battled Wednesday night at Sports Centre at MCC, where WBS got a 4-3 victory. That meant for most of the Penguins in the lineup, Friday's contest marked their first real game action since last season – and it took some time for them to get adjusted.

“I thought as the game went on, we were able to establish a little bit more of how we wanted to play,” WBS head coach John Hynes said. “With some of our guys in their first game – such a high-pressure game – it took them a little while to get going. I thought in the second and third period we did some good things and got a little bit more to our identity and how we wanted to play as a group. There was a little bit more chemistry between the players.”

A few notes from the game…

- WBS’ veteran players stepped up to lead their teammates on Friday, namely the line of Eric Tangradi, Warren Peters and Philippe Dupuis. The trio connected to score two of WBS' three goals, with Tangradi and Dupuis each getting a goal and an assist and Peters collecting a pair of helpers.

All three players are big and strong on the puck all over the ice, which allowed them to establish offensive zone time and create space for each other and scoring chances. Once they regained their own individual timing and speed, they really began to work well together.

“We definitely clicked,” Tangradi said. “Early on we were getting the rust off individually. Once we started to learn each others’ games a little bit, we were starting to make the little plays that come with the chemistry you need in a line. It was fun to play with those guys. We’ll see how things go.”

- Overall, Tangradi had a stellar evening. He told us over the summer that he feels like “a different player physically” as far as how he trained in the offseason, and that was apparent in his efforts tonight. Tangradi’s skating looked smooth and he didn’t hesitate to throw his body around, whether it was on the boards or as a net-front presence on the power play.

“It’s nice to get the first goal off your shoulders,” he said of his goal, a snipe from the circle that flew into the far side of the net. “It’s a long offseason. You want to get back at it and to put one in definitely gives you confidence early on.”

- Dupuis, who signed a one-year deal with the Penguins organization in July, was also very impressive. The team will be looking for more performances like Friday’s from the 27-year-old, who wore an “A” on his jersey for the contest.

“He’s a very experienced guy and has got a lot of NHL games,” Hynes said. “He went to the Calder Cup (last season with the Toronto Marlies). We respect his background and he’s a guy we think has the leadership potential.”

- The WBS defensemen had a good outing as a group, especially factoring in that Brian Dumoulin was the only player to have skated on Wednesday and that Robert Bortuzzo left the game in the first period and did not return (Hynes did not have an update on Bortuzzo’s status following the game).

Dylan Reese stood out with his speed and willingness to join the rush, while Simon Despres had a solid night on the penalty kill. He didn’t try anything too fancy, which resulted in a number of big clears down the length of the ice any time the puck touched his stick.

Overall, the blueliners – Dumoulin, Despres, Reese, Brian Strait and Joey Mormina – played with a lot of poise for so early in the season. They made a lot of smart, clean plays from the backend and didn’t try to do too much.

Friday's lineup...

Zach Sill
Beau Bennett
Warren Peters
Tom Kuhnhackl
Trevor Smith
Philippe Dupuis
Benn Ferriero
Denver Manderson

Brian Dumoulin
Joey Mormina
Simon Despres
Robert Bortuzzo
Brian Strait
Dylan Reese

Brad Thiessen (first two periods)
Patrick Killeen (third period)

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