WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Lehigh Valley Phantoms engaged in yet another tightly contested affair on Wednesday night with the Phantoms narrowly pulling off a 5-4 victory at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
Every member of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s (16-10-2-1) line of Garrett Wilson (1G-1A), Gage Quinney (1G-1A) and Daniel Sprong (0G-2A) put forth a strong offensive showing. Despite their six combined points, Lehigh Valley edged their Pennsylvania Turnpike rival and pulled farther ahead in the division standings.
The Phantoms began the scoring 2:57 into the period after Nicolas Aubé-Kubel collided with Jean-Sébastien Dea, who then in turn ran into Penguins goaltender Casey DeSmith. With Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s net vacant, T.J. Brennan’s shot from the point went into the open cage and gave Lehigh Valley a 1-0 lead.
Mike Vecchione had a cross-crease pass ricochet off of Penguins defenseman Frank Corrado and past DeSmith during a power play at 14:35 of the first period, making it 2-0.
The Penguins entered the second period on the power play and used that opportunity to create their first goal of the game. Just as man advantage expired, Colin Smith received a between-the-legs drop pass Wilson to get a wide-open view of the net and fired it in just 56 seconds into the middle frame.
Chaos ensued midway through the second period, when a four-goal scoring spree broke out in a three-minute stretch starting with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton tying the game, 2-2, on a broken play that resulted in Quinney tucking a puck around the post and off of Lehigh Valley netminder Dustin Tokarski at 10:54 of the second period. Tyrell Goulbourne answered back for the Phantoms at 12:03 of the second stanza, and Chris Conner deposited a rebound created during a two-on-one rush 1:37 later. A mere 17 ticks of the clock after the Conner goal, Garrett Wilson scored on a breakaway, pulling the Penguins back to a one-goal deficit, 4-3.
The dust settled for the third period, and Lehigh Valley received an empty net goal off the stick of Phil Varone to make it 5-3. Adam Johnson scored for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with 11.5 seconds left in regulation, but it proved to be too little too late as Varone’s empty netter from moments before stood as the game-winner.
DeSmith stopped 30 of the 34 shots he faced, while Tokarski made 32 saves at the other end of the ice.
The Penguins’ next game is Friday, Dec. 29 against the Hartford Wolf Pack. Friday’s game between Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Hartford is also an Eyewitness News Fan Friday, with upper and lower bowl tickets available for $14 and $2 select draught beers available from 6:00-7:30 p.m. Puck drop between the Penguins and Wolf Pack is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Individual tickets for all Penguins home games are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by calling 800-745-3000.
Season ticket packages for the 19th season of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins hockey, including 22-game, 12-game and Flexbook plans, are available by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.