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BIG THIRD PERIOD LEADS PENS PAST BEARS, 6-5

Spencer Machacek stayed red hot for the Penguins, recording his second consecutive two-goal game as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton posted a 6-5 win over the Hershey Bears on Tuesday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena.  The win snapped the Pens’ six-game winless streak (0-3-2-1) and moved them into second place in the East Division standings.

The teams entered the third period of the game knotted at 2-2, but Dane Byers scored a mere 28 seconds into the frame with a wrister from the right faceoff circled that beat Penguins netminder Eric Hartzell low.

The Penguins’ special teams took over from there, recording three goals in a span of 2:53 to put them in front for good.

Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond was shown to the penalty box three minutes after the Byers goal on a goaltender interference call, but Brendan Mikkelson rifled a shorthanded shot from the point that eluded David Leggio to tie the game up at 3-3.

Dustin Gazley gave the Penguins a golden opportunity to create some offense when he was whistled for a double minor after high sticking Mike Carman, and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton wasted little time in capitalizing.

Andrew Ebbett set up in front of the Hershey goal and deflected home a Nick Drazenovic pass 20 seconds into the extended power play to make the score 4-3, and as a result gave the Penguins two more minutes of man advantage time with which to work.

Once again the home team struck quickly, with captain Tom Kostopoulos sending a low shot that banged off the skate of Machacek and wound up in the back of the net, turning what had been a one goal deficit into a two goal lead in a matter of minutes.

But the scoring wasn’t over just yet, as former Penguin Jeff Taffe snapped a shot off of an offensive zone faceoff and notched his 16th goal of the campaign midway through the third.  That goal led coach John Hynes to replace Hartzell with Jeff Deslauriers with 9:59 left on the clock.

Machacek racked up his fourth goal in the past two games – his sixth in seven games since joining the Penguins – with a slap shot that beat Leggio short side to make the score 6-4 with 7:36 to play.

Nicolas Deschamp pulled the Bears back to within one just 30 seconds later, but the Penguins weathered a late storm to pull out their sixth win in 12 tries against Hershey this season.

Carman and Bobby Farnham scored the first two Penguins goals of the evening, while Byers and Casey Wellman both scored in the first period for the Bears.

Ebbett (1+2), Machacek (2+0), Mikkelson (1+1), Drazenovic (0+2), Bobby Farnham (1+1) and Leblond (0+2) each had multiple point efforts for the Penguins.

The win allowed the Penguins (29-19-3-4, 65 points) to vault both Hershey (29-19-3-3, 64 points) and the Norfolk Admirals (28-17-1-7, 64 points) in the East Division standings.

The Penguins begin a five-game road swing this Friday night when they travel to Syracuse to face the Crunch at 7:00pm

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