BISSONNETTE NETS GAME-WINNER AGAINST ALBANY
WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Penguins received an influx of skill on Friday with the returns of Janne Pesonen and Chris Minard from Pittsburgh earlier in the day.
So the ironic part of the team’s 4-3 victory on Friday night? The game-winning goal came off the stick of Paul Bissonnette.
The Pens’ grinding banged home a rebound off of a Deryk Engelland shot with five-and-a-half minutes to play to snap a two-game losing streak, and raised Wilkes-Barre’s record to 37-18-1-2.
“Two plugs,” laughed Bissonnette.
“A little bit of our M.O. the last 30, 35 games has been big third periods and simplifying our games, and making plays off pads and driving the net,” noted head coach Todd Reirden. “That’s what happened there with Biss scoring the big goal for us.”
With the scored tied 3-3, Engelland carried the puck over the blueline from the right side and unleashed a low slap shot that hit goaltender Justin Peters right leg pad. The puck bounced out to Bissonnette in the slot, who put home his fifth goal of the season - and first career game-winner.
“We work on that a lot in practice. It’s called P.O.P., pass off the pads. It was just a great play by [Engelland], recognizing we had a three-on-two,” said Bissonnette. “I lost it for a second and then I heard it hit his pad, and then it popped out on the other side of the D man skate, luckily banged it home.”
The Penguins jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a first period goal by Nick Johnson, but saw Albany tie things up with a Jakub Petruzalek tally at 14:01.
Pesonen put the Pens back in front at 2:18 of the second, digging a puck out of the near corner, then moving his way to the top of the crease where he slammed in his 17th of the season.
But recently assigned Brandon Sutter showed the skill that made him the 11th overall pick by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2007, scoring a power play goal a minute and a half after Pesonen’s play.
Sutter wasn’t done just yet. With the Pens on the power play - which featured an all-star cast of Pesonen, Jeff Taffe, Minard, Luca Cauti and Alex Goligoski - Sutter picked up a loose puck at the blueline, then broke in alone to net a shorthanded tally at 5:30 of the second.
“When you get that many guys together, you think it’s going to be tic-tac-toe and moving it around,” Reirden said of his power play unit. “In fact our best success we had was just dumping the puck in and going to work.”
That’s the path the Pens took in the third, as Dustin Jeffrey used a hard-nosed play to tie the game back up at 4:26, before Bissonnette finished off the night.
“Maybe in the first two periods we got away from our game, especially since we got a couple of skilled guys back,” said Bissonnette. “Sometimes we take advantage of that and get away from our game and want to make all the fancy plays. But Janne and Minnie played unreal tonight and stepped up”
The win pulled the Pens to within three points of first place Hershey in the East Division after the Bears dropped a 5-4 overtime decision to the Binghamton Senators. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton leads the Bridgeport Sound Tigers by one point heading into a home-and-home series starting on Saturday.