LEWISTON, Maine – Simon Despres scored twice for the Penguins and Philip Samuelsson set a career high with four points (1G-3A) as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defeated the Portland Pirates, 4-2, at Androscoggin Bank Colisée.
The game was knotted at one going into the second period before Samuelsson carried on his point night and helped give the Penguins a two-goal edge. At 8:46 of the period, Samuelsson and his defense partner Despres passed the puck back and forth at the blueline, waiting for a shooting lane to develop before Despres walked the puck to the right side and fired it over the blocker of Pirates goaltender Mark Visentin.
Samuelsson then put Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on top, 3-1, with 2:25 left until the second intermission when he picked the top corner with a one-timer from the right wing. The tally was Samuelsson’s third of the season and the eventual game-winner.
The two defensemen teamed up once again at 4:20 of the third to help the Penguins build a three-goal cushion. Samuelsson worked the puck back to the near point for Despres, who fluttered a shot that changed directions and found the back of the net.
Five minutes later, Portland pulled back within two on a power play goal by Brandon Gormley. The Pirates would make one last push with 3:20 left in regulation when a high-sticking call gave them a four-minute man-advantage.
Goaltender Eric Hartzell fended off the late flurry and the penalty kill capped off a 6-for-7 effort to clinch the win for the Penguins. Hartzell stopped 27-of-29 shots to raise his record to 6-2-1. Visentin made 18 saves for Portland.
A 5-on-4 advantage for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the opening minute of the contest allowed the road team to jump out to 1-0 lead. Scott Harrington netted his third goal of the year when he released a wrist shot from the right blueline that skipped by a screened Visentin at 1:07 of the frame.
Brandon McMillan was able to tie the match for the Pirates at 12:28 as he tracked down a loose puck at the goal line and whipped a shot from below the far circle that slipped under the pad of Hartzell.
The Penguins travel back to Providence on Sunday, Jan. 19 to battle the Bruins at 3:05 p.m. Listen to all of the live action on SportsHub102.com or AHL Live.